1st XV vs Edinburgh Accies: Match Report
‘Friends, Romans, StewMellies, lend me your ears;
We came to bury Accies, not to praise them.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft’ interred with their bones;’
(adapted from ‘Julius Caesar’ Act 3, Scene 2 – about which more in last paragraph)
Although we were deservedly leading at half-time, the loss of firstly Phil Hendry and then, after half time, Scott Brewster (with a broken leg) affected the balance of our pack. This allowed the Accies pack to win the important battles to supply ball and eventually prevail.
Both sides started nervously; Accies were certainly mindful of our recent success and we were anxious to establish ourselves against Premier 1 opposition. Our midfield, changed from the previous two weeks, had Scott Riddell and Neil Bowie looking eager for the ball and contact, and, although we never threatened the Accies try line, we had the better of the opening twenty minutes.
The packs were evenly matched, but, after our early dominance yielded nothing, we were forced to defend and repel the ‘round the corner’ attacks. Indeed, Blyth was twice held up over the line. Just as it looked like we had weathered the storm, Kaide’s clearance to the half-way was run back at us and Knight provided the pace to send Ruairidh Bonner over. As the try was awarded the referee gave Willie time to reflect in the ‘bin’, the offence seemed to be “nipping the referee’s heed”. We also conceded a penalty on the half way line for Liam’s tackle on Knight, which was adjudged to be late.
With the man advantage, Accies camped on our line and passed up two kickable penalties to try and make the extra man count. We defended brilliantly, however, and ended the half with a flourish. After several forward breenges, quick hands by our impressive back line set Andrew Hughes free to score in the corner between the wall and the stand. Mike Hanning converted on the stroke of half-time.
Half-time then, 7-5 to us, steady as she goes. We seemed to have repelled the best Accies had to throw at us and had emerged with a narrow lead. After Scott’s injury, however, Neil and Adam had to play in the back row with Matt in the centre, and slowly Accies strangled the game away from us. They played sensible field position, and it looked as if the first half had been a wake-up call for them, and they were doubly determined to cut down the errors.
First Tom Drennan went over, then Euan Bonner – in both cases, we simply ran out of defenders through Accies recycling ball. At 17-7 down there was still the feeling that a break away would bring us back into the game and provide us with at least a bonus point. We simply could not get enough ball, either loose or set piece, and, if we did, we seemed to incur the wrath of Mr Dickson, the referee.
The Accies substitute Findlater settled the matter by running a good direct angle to secure a bonus point and finish the scoring. Still, we did not adopt the pragmatic approach and see out time but tried to add to our scoreline; the ball pinged from side to side but we were always in the wrong half until the full time whistle blew.
After so many thrilling close games where we have emerged victorious, we were forced to sup from the bitter cup of defeat. There was no lack of effort from our players but it wasn’t our day: the forwards did not carry the ball as effectively as usual and our backline’s potential was never fully unleashed.
A word of thanks must go to our travelling support, which greatly added to the atmosphere and is much appreciated by the players
What about our conquerors? Well, they have probably the largest number of players in any Scottish club and run four teams, they work with the local community, they have a Development Officer working with the age group teams, they have an Under 20 team. In short, as we look to do things better ourselves, there is a lot we can learn from our neighbours.
Simon Cross (Accies Coach)
‘I thought you guys were exceptional in the first half and worth your lead. We were a bit cagey, but played the second half in the right areas with better accuracy. Scott Riddell looked very good, you have a good group of guys. I thought we were young but you look younger’.
Rob Dickson (referee)
‘Perhaps both teams dwelt on their performance the previous week too much. I thought it was a bit scrappy with a lot of mistakes by both sides.’