Edinburgh Accies 35
IAIN MORRISON @ Raeburn Place
JUST one place in the Tennents Premiership separated these two teams before kick-off but there was a gulf in class, endeavour and especially execution on the field of play.
Accies won this one at a canter, securing the bonus point ahead of the half-time break and generally bossing almost every aspect of this game. They finished with five tries in all, leaving several others on the field and appeared to shut up shop well before the final whistle. Their impressive fly-half Jamie Loomes converted four of them, the other a penalty try.
They play a simple style that was pretty much perfect for a heavy pitch and a greasy ball. The forwards run hard and straight using the likes of flanker Jamie Sole and lock Angus Inwood. They kick the ball downtown and press hard until the opposition makes a mistake and then they pounce. It was simple but more than enough to see off GHA.
This weekend’s other Premiership match reports:
“It was a great first half,” said Accies coach Iain Bertinussen. “But we stopped playing after the break and, to be fair to them, they came back into the game.
“I thought it was pretty equal for the first ten minutes and then we upped the physicality and they couldn’t live with it. We changed a lot of players in the second half but we still need to problem solve a little better than we did today.”
Accies opened the scoring with a penalty try after 13 minutes and enjoyed the added bonus of GHA’s number eight Luke McCutcheon spending the next ten in the sin bin for dropping Accies driving maul that was advancing towards the try line with menace.
A man to the good, Accies proceeded to create at least three cast iron scoring opportunities only to sky the ball over the posts every time. On another day it might have proved costly . Eventually they worked Hamish Janes into some space on the right flank and full-back Ben Appleson took the inside pass from the leggy winger to double Accies try-count.
Only then did a chastened McCutcheon return to the field after what seemed like a very long ten minutes.
GHA displayed some bounce. Converting a penalty into an attacking line-out the visitors played a few phases before Gregor Hiddleston dived over in the right hand corner. But anyone expecting this to spark the visitors into life were quickly disabused.
Accies scored twice more in the space of three minutes before the half time break to put this one to bed. Another penalty, another driving maul and another try, this one awarded to Sole, just rewards for all his graft on both sides of the ball.
GHA restarted the match and Accies played a few phases before Robbie Kent took full advantage of some half-hearted defence by the visitors to break the opposition line and show great pace to leave everyone else trailing in his wake as he sprinted 70-odd yards up-field to score a scorching solo try that gave the home side a 28-5 lead at the break.
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The second half was just two minutes old when Accies number eight and skipper Ruairi Campbell claimed their fifth try with an interception from forty yards out.
The rate of scoring slowed to a standstill although this probably owed as much to complacency creeping into the home ranks rather than GHA’s defence becoming an impenetrable barrier. The sideways rain that fell throughout the final quarter of the match probably had a say in events as well.
Nothing much went right for the visitors. Their line-out broke down with several overthrows and while the set scrum started well enough it was stuck in reverse after the break. But the forwards probably questioned why they should sweat blood to win the ball because the back division looked clueless in the face of a hard press from the Accies counterparts.
GHA’s Grant Mollinson caught the eye, both with his brilliant mullet and also for one crucial turnover on his own try line, which almost certainly prevented yet another try.
But just minutes later the same full-back had a chance to launch a counter-attack and tamely ran the ball into touch when he needed to straighten the line and use the men on his outside.
It wasn’t until around the one hour mark that the Glasgow club produced their first sustained attack of the second half and even that failed to trouble the Accies 22, with the vast majority of the second half being played deep inside the visitors’ territory.
With the match in the final ten minutes, GHA finally earned themselves an attacking line-out in exactly the area of the field where Accies had claimed their two first half tries. The visitors huffed and they puffed but no matter whether they threw the ball wide or trundled it into the heavy traffic nothing would give and eventually a knock-on ended the attack.
GHA deserve some credit for claiming the final score, a try for visiting centre Max McFarlane, well converted by Ciaran Armstrong, which was consolation of sorts on what was an uncomfortable afternoon for GHA, and there was still time for Mollinson to see yellow at the death.
“It was a bad day at the office,” conceded Trevor Carmichael, GHA’s coach. “I think Accies lived off our mistakes in that first half and we probably should have kicked the ball more often and further than we did to pin them back.”
Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Janes, R Kent, W Stephen, M Sinclair; J Loomes, B Afshar; C Lacour, F McAslan, J Mills, A Inwood, F Simpson, J Sole, M Walker, R Campbell. Substitutes: R Montgomery, G Stevenson, C Reid, J Troup, M Wallace.
GHA: G Mollinson; L Bardelli, C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, S Carden; C Armstrong, G Baird; T Brogan, G G Hiddleston, M Fox, J McCarthy (Capt), W Alton, W Graham, L McCutcheon. Substitutes: K Chirmik, L Archer, J Bruce, R MacFarlane, R O’Keefe.
Referee: J Perriam.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Pen Try, Appleson, Sole, Kent, Campbell; Cons: Loomes 4.
GHA: Tries: Hiddleston, M McFarlane; Con: Armstrong.
Sequence of scoring: 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 14-5; 19-5; 21-5; 26-5; 28-5 (h-t) 33-5; 35-5; 35-10; 35-12.
Yellow cards –
GHA: McCutcheon (13 mins), Mollinson (78 mins)
Man-of-the-Match: Jamie Sole, Angus Inwood and the rest of the Accies pack worked their socks off all afternoon but it is difficult to look beyond that superb solo effort just before the break by centre Robbie Kent, no matter how accommodating the GHA defence was.
Talking point: The referee had a good game overall but twice in the first half he called Accies back for taking a quick tap penalty from the wrong place, but on both occasions the tap was taken as near the mark as makes no odds. Don’t we want to speed the game up rather than slow it down?