Match Report v Glasgow Accies | Saturday 16 November @ New Anniesland
Glasgow Accies RFC v Stewarts Melville RFC
New Anniesland – kick off 2pm
A fine cloudy day with no wind greeted us at New Anniesland. Seldom do we get better conditions for rugby. It was very much a settled team with only a few changes. Happy back at 12 and Cormac McCracken at no.8 as Accies got things going kicking long into Stew Mel’s half. The ball was well retrieved with a clearance kick finding touch around the half way line for the first line-out of the afternoon, Accies ball. Their possession thereafter was short lived resulting in another line-out in a similar position on the opposite site of the field, this time Stew Mel’s ball. A clean line-out and some good hands out wide exploited by a kick through over the try line put pressure on the hosts and a 22 drop out. Accies however managed to win back possession and territorial advantage and with a scrum and a penalty in a kickable position within the first 5 minutes, three points. Accies 3 – Stew Mel 0.
At the restart Stew Mel retained possession and following a short line-out Doug Randall took off downfield eventually finding Happy as they pushed their opponents well into their own half. A testing kick through the defence was pounced on for almost the first try of the afternoon although was adjudged to be marginally out of play. Good pressure was being exerted on Accies at this stage however a knock on gave them some advantage with opportunities coming their way but James Ferguson turned the tables and made progress down the left flank with Chris Baikie and Momo in support resulting in a scrum 10m out. A period of reset scrums then occurred along with some dialogue between the front rowers and the referee, but play eventually resumed and the Stew Mel forwards, beginning to grind their opponents down, drove over, the touch down by Cormac McCracken. 20 minutes played Accies 3 – Stew Mel 5. Deadlock broken?
Another restart and clearance kick which unfortunately didn’t find touch, but instead landed in the hands of the Accies impressive no.8 who set up another attack although this was stopped by an interception and Stew Mel were once more back within Accies 22 restoring their previous passage of play. Another strong scrummage and good interplay between forwards and backs and this time Jamie McGurk side stepped and cut through the Accies defence to score an impressive individualistic try. We all know about Jamie’s defensive capabilities and his try further illustrates how dangerous he can also be in attack. Happy added the extras bringing the score with 25 minutes played to Accies 3 – Stew Mel 12.
The forwards battle continued both in the set piece and loose and it was apparent that Stew Mel were definitely getting the edge in both. Talking of the edge (not the one of U2 fame) that is exactly where Joe Baillie was playing and what all teams need, as he continued to disrupt Accies chances of either retaining possession or indeed mounting an attack. This pressure eventually lead to a kickable penalty and Happy bagged the 3 points. 35 minutes played Accies 3 – Stew Mel 15.
As half time approached, against the run of play at this stage, Accies threw caution to the wind and kicked through winning the race for an opportunistic breakaway try which they no doubt felt they deserved. Half time Accies 8 – Stew Mel 15.
As Stew Mel kicked off towards the pavilion, it was recognised that despite the score line, this was a tight game with a crucial 40 minutes in waiting of which at least 20 was played out in the Accies half, although somewhat scrappy at times with a degree of repetition with scrums being reset and a penalty being awarded in Stew Mel’s favour. Eventually the forwards again drove over controlling the ball well with Cormac getting his name on the score sheet once more. With around 55 minutes played Accies 8 – Stew Mel 20. Accies appeared to be visibly showing signs of fatigue as they were under pressure, however they managed to get back into the Stew Mel half and the ‘red zone’ and attacked persistently from either 10m or 5m out resulting in some tired bodies but the Stew Mel defence during this period was as good as it gets as they managed to survive the onslaught, and were soon back in the hosts half applying more pressure with ball in hand. More progress and some good field kicking resulted in a line-out around 10m from the Accies try line. With an Accies knock on and a scrum it wasn’t long before the forwards again drove over and guess whose name was on the score sheet once more? Yes Cormac and Happy successful with the conversion with 75 minutes or thereby played at this stage and the score Accies 8 – Stew Mel 27 and the bonus point in the bag, it was really game over although some further skirmishes in Stew Mel’s 22 again witnessed their defence at its best. A final scrum to Stew Mel and after brief consultation with the ref, Fraser booted the ball out of play and the
A good win and a hard fought contest. Whilst there were scrappy periods there was some excellent rugby on display with both forwards and backs playing their part. Accies are one of the stronger sides in this league and like us they have ambitions to get back to where we think we both probably belong. Given time I think this will happen.
There are quite a number of similarities between both teams but to me the most apparent on Saturday was the camaraderie pre and post match and the sportsmanship shown in between which was exemplary and very much indicative of what this sport offers. The Accies no.8, a former pro, lead his troops by example but couldn’t do it all himself. Stew Mel played for most part the right game, once we established a reasonable cushion in the score line, Fraser’s kicking kept the pressure on which they had no answer to. He was also instrumental in getting movement around the park ably assisted by his out half Euan who got width into areas where we know we can be dangerous with Sean, Adam and James always a threat. Special mention to our front row of Connor, Chris and Doug. They must be the most mobile in this league and indeed any league and they role up their sleeves and do the dirty work too. What an asset this is to any team. I am tempted to say a ‘cracken’ game by our no.8 on his debut and getting his hattrick but will resist such temptation at tabloid journalism! I would sum this game up simplistically by saying well done forwards, well done backs, well done team.
Next up the Bulls at Invers. I think our Matadors will be able to handle them. See you Saturday.