Edinburgh Accies 20
ERIN McRITCHIE @ Raeburn Place
A LATE second-half comeback was not enough for Edinburgh Accies to salvage anything from a high-scoring game that has consigned them to the foot of the table. The result secures a place in the play-offs for Selkirk, while Accies are now a point behind Glasgow Hawks, who have played a game more.
“It’s massively frustrating,” Accies coach Iain Berthinussen said post-match. “You can’t turn up like that and expect to get anything from the game. We as coaches and players need to take a look at ourselves. We’ve dug ourselves a grave and it’s going to be tough to get out of it.
“There’s no excuse really, we’ve just got to keep working hard. It’s still in our hands. We’ve got Hawks at home next week, then Marr and Currie to play – we’ve got three games to go, so it’s still very much in our hands.”
Following a minute’s silence prior to kick-off in memory of Gus Boag, the Selkirk president who died suddenly in December, it was the visitors who were first on the scoreboard. Some good work from the hands of backs Ross Nixon and Aaron McColm, along with forward Peter Forrest, saw the Borderers break into the 22, and they soon went to work. Patience was a virtue as they weathered a handful of penalties before front-row Luke Pettie crashed over for the opening score. McColm’s conversion made it a full seven-point score.
There were some good carries upon the restart from Accies’ half-back pairing Max Love and Ruairidh Bonner, and it was soft hands between Bonner and Robert Wilson that gave ball to Monty Cairnes to break into the 22. However, unfortunate handling errors bundled the home side back up the field.
Having regained possession, Selkirk struck again. A sense of déjà vu overtook the ground as it was once more the patience and phases of the big men in the pack which saw them crash over, with Pettie once more the man in charge of the ball.
Accies’ Callum Ramm thought he had found a path to the line on the wing, but again a handling error stifled the home side’s advance. Despite good combination play from Chris Thomson and Jamie Sole, Accies could not make their way back into the Selkirk 22, and they eventually settled for a penalty, from which Richard Mill got them off the mark.
Selkirk went hunting again for what would prove to be the last score of the half, as they fed ball well from a lineout, and as Henry Bithray came storming up to be fed by Luca Merolle, the full-back was able to snipe his way through the defensive line to score in the corner. McColm’s kick was low but over.
Upon the start of the second half, Accies forwards went through some tough phases in the Selkirk 22, eventually setting up camp underneath the posts. And ultimately, it would be through the help of the posts that the Edinburgh men scored their first try of the match, with Cole Imrie thrusting the ball towards the bottom of the pads for the score. Mill converted to shorten Selkirk’s lead by seven points. Selkirk soon lengthened their lead once again, however, as a dominant shove at a five-metre scrum sent captain Ewan MacDougall over the whitewash for the bonus-point try.
Scott McClymont tore into the home 22 a short while later as Selkirk once again enjoyed attacking possession. A penalty at the breakdown gave the visitors the put-in at the scrum, and having moved ball well through the phases off the back of it, Forrest took the ball to crash over for the visitors’ fifth score of the day.
Accies hurt themselves on the restart with some handling fumbles, but they toughed things out, eventually seeming to get a foothold in the match as Ruari Campbell broke with ball in hand on the wing, feeding Robert Wilson for the run in.
Minutes before full-time, an Accies lineout on the Selkirk five-metre line allowed ball to be fed quickly to the backs, and an effective piece of interplay between Campbell, Wilson and Monty Cairnes saw Cairnes crossing for what would prove to be the last try of the day. With the conversion missed, however, Selkirk still held a sturdy 13-point lead.
Frustration between the two No 8s boiled over a minute after the restart, and unfortunately for Accies, as the referee blew to stop the scrapping, he was informed time was up, denying the hosts the chance of going for a score that would have given them a potentially valuable losing bonus point.
Edinburgh Accies: M Cairnes; R Wilson, R Campbell, R Mill, C Ramm; R Bonner, M Love; C Imrie, S Crombie, C Lacour, A Inwood, C Bain, C Thomson, J Sole (captain), J Bruce. Subs: C Black, D Anderson, R McConnell, M Sinclair, W Stephen.
Selkirk: H Bithray; C McNeill, R Cottrell, R Nixon, J Welsh; A McColm, L Merolle; L Pettie, J Bett, B Riddell, P Forrest, S Rankin, A Mackay, S McClymont, E MacDougall. Subs: J Mackay, A McColm, F Anderson, C Anderson, L Berte.
Referee: M Todd.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Imrie, Wilson, Cairnes. Con: Mill. Pens: Mill.
Selkirk: Tries: Pettie 2, Bithray, MacDougall, Forrest. Cons: McColm 4.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 0-5, 0-7, 0-12, 3-12, 3-17, 3-19 half-time, 8-19, 10-19, 10-24, 10-26, 10-31, 10-33, 15-33, 20-33.
Man of the match: Selkirk’s Henry Bithray covered nearly every inch of the turf today, and his clearance kicks and chip kicks were impressive both under pressure and in open space. With a try to his name, and some impressive combinations with his fellow backs, he takes the day’s honours.
Talking point: If Edinburgh Accies are going to avoid relegation then they must address the inconsistencies in their game quick-smart. Their commitment is not under question, but in order to start taking points from games, they must rid their play of the small errors that currently plague them.