Edinburgh Accies 40
DAVID BARNES @ Raeburn Place
IT is pleasing to be in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup but for Edinburgh Accies head coach Iain Berthinussen the really satisfying thing about this match was that several key components of his team which have either been missing or malfunctioning for much of this season played crucial roles in a convincing victory – which bodes well for some big matches ahead as his team seek to escape the Premiership relegation zone.
“From where we were last week at Mansfield Park [when his side lost 33-0], that was a big step forward. There was a lot of good work went in this week to simplifying our game and there were elements of that out there today,” he said.
“There was a lot of endeavour, our shape was good in defence, we were clear about what we wanted to do in attack and our scrum was good, so I’m delighted and so are the boys,” he added, with a nod towards the hearty sing-song reverberating from industrial metal container at the bottom end of the pitch which is serving as a makeshift team-room for the Accies squad during this period while their historic Raeburn Place home is being redeveloped. “Our discipline is still something we have to work on big time but it’s is nice to get in a semi-final.
“We’ve got two Saturdays off now then we have Marr here on the 15th February which we hope to be in pretty good shape for because Ben Appleson got through 60 minutes today [after a lengthy injury lay-off], Monty Cairnes came off the bench and did well, Jamie Loomes should be back soon and we’ve got two or three other boys getting game time elsewhere today – so we’re starting to get a few boys back fit and hopefully the ground will firm up a bit more and we can play our style of game.”
Opposite number Gavin Kerr was fairly philosophical about the defeat, taking a similar view: that the cup is a pleasant distraction, but when you are only four points off the foot of the table the league must be the priority.
“We are disappointed but our main focus is the league now, and I suppose that was the case this week as we were coming into this game, because we’ve got some big games coming up starting with GHA at home in three weeks’ time, so we have to be ready for that,” he said. “We tried to give a few guys who have been in the fringes a run, so that will help us in the long run.
“I thought we started well, we had phases in the middle of the game where we looked good, and then we really picked it up towards the end – which is the frustrating thing for me because suddenly we look like a team who can play a bit of rugby. But we already know that’s the case, so we just need to pull it together for closer to the full 80 minutes. We had a couple of turnovers out wide that cost us, so we’re creating pressure then handing them the initiative.
“But we’re still fighting and that’s the pleasing thing because in seasons gone by I don’t think we’ve always had that,” he added. “We’d go behind and find it difficult to pull ourselves back. These boys are not scared to have a go so we’ll still cause any team in this league problems if we can just switch that switch a bit earlier.”
The visitors got off to a promising start with Callum Young hitting a great line and then offloading from the deck to Rory Marshall as play swept into the Accies 22, before an obstruction infringement allowed Robbie Yourston to fire home the first points of the match.
The hosts bounced back almost immediately, with tight-head prop Clem Lacour rumbling over off the back of a close-range line-out drive, and Richard Mill nailing the touchline conversion for good measure. Accies then extended their lead when skipped Jamie Sole picked up at the base of a scrum and fed scrum-half Mark Sinclair for an unchallenged run-in.
Jed then spent several minutes camped on the Accies line but could not find a way past the determined defence, and when home loose-head Cole Imrie was sent to the cooler for a no-arms tackle Jed squandered the chance to make the numerical advantage count by opting for a quick-tap only to be penalised for holding on at the subsequent ruck.
If that was frustrating for Jed, it got even worse when they tried to break out of their 22 but lost control of possession near halfway, with the ball ending up in Accies second-row Cameron Bain’s hands – who could hardly believe his luck as he galloped home from 40 yards, with Mill’s third successful conversion making it 21-3 with just half an hour played.
To their credit, Jed rallied again, and after a second Accies player in hooker Ross Gregor was sent to the sin-bin for a high-tackle, the Borderers finally capitalised when prop Paulo Ferreira barged his way home from close range, making it 21-10 at the turnaround.
Imrie made some amends for his earlier spell on the naughty step when he muscled his way to Accies’ fourth try early in the second half, then Lacour got his second, and with Mill keeping up his flawless kicking record from the tee in this match, the game was now well out of Jed’s reach – but they didn’t throw in the towel, and they dominated the final quarter, with winger Lewis Turnbull nipping over twice on the right to salvage some respectability on the scoreboard.
Deep into injury time, Jed opted for one last roll of the dice, flinging the ball in field from a ruck five yards from their own line, but the pass was loose and the receiver wasn’t ready for it, so it ended bobbling in the in-goal area, with Mill was first to react for an opportunist score.
The centre then hit the post with his conversion, which caused him a slightly surmising amount of angst because he would have loved to have finished with a six from six record, and this was perhaps the easiest shot at goal he’d had all match, – but he’ll surely have gotten over his disappointment once he’d taken a minute to reflect on the 80 minutes as a whole.
Edinburgh Academicals: B Appleson; R Wilson, R Campbell, R Mill, C Ramm; R Bonner, M Sinclair; C Imrie, R Gregor, C Lacour, R McConnell, C Bain, D Dinnen, J Sole©, C Thomson. Subs: C Black, F MacKenzie, A Inwood, T Jones, B Grainger, M Cairnes, J Adamson.
Jed-Forest: L Young; L Turnbull, C Young, R Marshall, J Laing; R Yourston, N Stingl; P Ferreira, M Purves, H Meadows, B Saxton, G Law, G Young, E Lauder, D Grieve. Subs: M Purves, J Bowie, F McKerracher, J Ferguson, J McGough, S Paxton, L Turnbull.
Referee: Sam O’Neil
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Lacour 2, Sinclair; Bain, Imrie, Mill; Cons: Mill 5.
Jed-Forest: Tries: Ferriera, Turnbull 2; Con: Pen: Yourston
Scoring sequence (Jed-Forest first): 0-3; 5-3; 7-3; 12-3; 14-3; 18-3; 21-3; 21-8; 21-10 (h-t) 26-10; 28-10; 33-10; 35-10; 35-15; 35-20; 40-20.
Yellow cards –
Edinburgh Accies: Imrie, Gregor
Man-of-the-Match: Accies tight-head Clem Lacour anchored a dominant scrum, scored two tries and lasted the full 80 minutes so made a very strong case for selection – but centre Richard Mill gets it for his energy in both attack and defence, his steadying influence as a second distributor in the middle of the park and his near perfect kicking display from the tee.
Talking point: On this performance, it is hard to fathom how Edinburgh Accies are bottom of the Premiership. They do have two games in hand, but with Marr, Currie Chieftains and Hawick among the five matches to go, they really need to make sure that this win is a stepping stone rather than an isolated peak. The same could be said of Jed, who often looked dangerous but couldn’t sustain it – you know there is a really good attacking team in there somewhere waiting to break out.