Match Report v Edinburgh Accies | Saturday 3 February 2018
The Gavin Calder Memorial Cup The Stew Mel team listed on the match day programme was about as accurate as the Press and Journal report on the Aberdeen game the previous week! A few changes had been made both as a result of injuries and absenteeism, assumed due to some other game being played in Cardiff on Saturday afternoon.
It was a dreich day at Raeburn Place and what appeared to be a very muddy and heavy pitch. A disappointing number, particularly the home support, appeared to have gathered, possibly due to the weather, the Scotland game or was it because it was only Stew Mel?!
Right from the kick-off it was clear that Stew Mel were really up for it taking the game to Accies and keeping them, certainly within the first 10 minutes, pinned in their own 22 although against the run of play they did manage to contrive a runaway try on the left wing along with a successful conversion. Accies 7 Stew Mel 0.
It didn’t take long however for Stew Mel to be back again in Accies 22 and after some good forward play and a successful line out securing and retaining possession. They drove over for a try in the right hand corner I think Tom Petiau the scorer although the conversion was unsuccessful. Accies 7 Stew Mel 5.
Stew Mel gathered well after the re-start and a great break from Mark Sinclair eventually lead to a penalty and a lineout within Accies 22. Good hands and tacticle kicking put Accies under further pressure and another break by the scrum half, off-loading to James, who made good progress until Accies managed to steal the ball and reverse the territorial advantage well into Stew Mel’s 22 possibly for the second time in the opening exchanges.
Stew Mel were thereafter penalised for not rolling away which gave Accies the opportunity 5m out although the resultant lineout was not straight and the pressure was off temporalily as lines were thereafter cleared. Accies were now starting to push forward and after some quick hands scored (dubioustry, photographic evidence available!) in the corner. Accies were however beginning to get more into the game and their territorial advantage lead to another try directly from a lineout. The half time whistle blew and the drizzle continued. Accies 17 Stew Mel 5.
In the second half the Accies pack, due primarily to their superior bulk, were beginning to get the upper hand and momentum, although Stew Mel were defending like dervishes. Another try out wide within the first few minutes of the second half lead to the score being Accies 24 Stew Mel 5.
The Accies forwards were giving their backs a good platform and again at around the 60 minute mark breached the defence to take the score to 29–5. During these latter stages Accies had control of the game and a similar pattern of play continued until the final whistle with them retaining the cup and the bonus point, their final try being the best of the day. Final score 34-5.
It was by no means the try fest that was perhaps expected although to be fair there were 7! The score almost mirrored what was witnessed at the Principality but this is where the similarity ends. The performance of both teams was in complete contrast and based on what was on display on Saturday, does not in any way, in my view, reflect the team’s respective league positions. We cannot argue about statistics and results but Stew Mel will win more games in the latter part of the season and Accies are most likely to be promoted, unbeaten or not. They were the better team on the day but the gulf between the two only really became apparent in the second half.
Rugby is not just about winning but also about performance and the players did themselves proud today. There were mistakes, I think primarily due to the damp conditions and a slippery ball, but they attacked with purposes and defended extremely well to a man. Accies are however a very good team and have both experience and maturity on their side. Exciting times for them as they climb their way back to the Prem after the disappointment of last season. I wish them well.
The forwards again as per the previous Saturday were an effective unit despite the changes. Jamie Sword did well in the line out as he did in loose play. Lewis Scott punches well above his weight and Adam Howie carries at every opportunity over the gain line. The half back combination again worked well and Euan Bowen was tactically astute in both his kicking game and providing options for his back line, probably eclipsing a certain number 10’s performance in Cardiff. Happy’s injury was of some concern but good to see him back on the pitch after a nose realignment or reconstruction. Whatever it was it seemed to work although seriously, I trust he is ok. Will tackled everything that came his way as did the midfield of Jamie & Happy and James used his physique to great effect with ball in hand and when engaged in aerial combat.
Next up is Peebles in the cup at home. Another one that we can build confidence on as the league continues thereafter and survival beckons.
Whilst I may not have been able to headline the report this time with “Ever since the days of Finlay Calder”, I am sure his brother Gav would have been immensely proud of the boys today. They will win that cup back.
Kevin Murchie, Chief Reporter