Edinburgh Accies 37
DAVID BARNES @ Raeburn Place
WE came to see Accies finally buried at the bottom of the table with what we expected to be a 15th consecutive loss in a harrowing first season back in the top flight. But the home team had other ideas. They came out fighting, took advantage of the away team’s doziness to score two tries in the first five minutes, weathered a mini-Hawick fight-back, and then struck twice more with a penalty and a third try to establish a 22-0 lead by the break – which they didn’t ever look like relinquishing during the second half.
Accies were on the receiving end of a painful and humiliating 73-10 mauling at the hands of Boroughmuir last week, but sometimes the darkest hour is just before the dawn.
“That has been coming for a while, irrespective of what happened last week, and it just clicked for us today,” insisted winning head coach Derek O’Riordan. “What we demanded this week wasn’t anything around ability, it was just around working hard, and I don’t think there’s been many Border sides that have been out-worked like that by a city team for a long while. There was a lot of ticker out there today.”
“I reflected a lot on last week,” he added. “That was our lowest ebb as a club in the four years I’ve been involved and I think it added a lot of fuel to the fire today … to go out and put things right after what was a disgraceful performance.”
Accies’ first try came in the second minute when Cammy Gray bustled over on the right after several sharp phases, and they doubled their account just three minutes later when Robbie Kent caught out Andrew Mitchell with an inside step and carried his desperately grasping opposite number over the line – but there was a suggestion that he didn’t manage to get the ball down so exchange referee Pierre Baptiste decided to take the uncertainty out of it by awarding a penalty try for a seatbelt tackle.
There wasn’t much disputing that score from either Hawick’s players or supporters, which is surprising in the context of their on-going preoccupation with victimhood when it comes to match officials. Not only is all the complaining irritating and boring to listen to, it is also clearly a distraction, with the players more intent on winning the argument than winning the game.
It reached comical proportions midway through the second half of this match when Daniel Suddon was urged on by the Hawick ‘ultras’ as he took out Max Love after the ball had gone, and those same supporters had the gall to howl in faux outrage when the inevitable penalty was awarded.
In truth, the referee was a bit erratic and trigger-happy, but it went both ways, with one unofficial penalty count having it that Accies conceded 16 to Hawick’s nine. Certainly, Hawick coach George Graham had no interest in using the officiating as an excuse.
“The referee wasn’t up to much, but that had nothing to do with the result,” he said. “Even if I was refereeing the game we would still have got hammered!
Premiership Match Reports:
“We were absolutely woeful. It is not what I am coaching and it is not what I am about – but that’s the basket-case which is Hawick rugby – we are capable of doing that but we are also capable of beating the top of the league.”
“From one to 20 today, Accies had more desire, more passion, more aggression and more get-up-and-go to win the game. They thoroughly deserved it. Our scrum and line-out didn’t function, our breakdown was non-existent, we were very poor all over the field, and that’s because we had eight guys in the first team away skiing for a week – that’s the result of going away on the piss for seven days [they got back last Sunday].”
Hawick did rally after conceding that second early try, but Accies were determined not to surrender any easy points, even after losing prop Cole Imrie to the sin-bin for diving round the side of ruck. And after weathering the storm the home team were gifted an opportunity to extend their lead when Ali Weir fumbled the ball as he looked to run back a clearance from deep. The home pack were awarded a penalty at the resulting scrum, which Vincent Hart stroked home.
Then, with half an hour played, Jamie Sole hoovered up a loose pass which had gone to deck and made good ground, before sending teenage full-back Harry Paterson in for Accies’ third try.
Hawick captured a foot-hold at the start of the second half when an excellent offload out of contact from Greg Walker sent Mitchell over, with Lee Armstrong adding the conversion, but Accies responded with a self-belief which belied their lowly league position, when Paterson countered from deep. Hawick scrum-half Gareth Welsh was carded for slowing the ball down and Accies took the scrum, from which they squeezed a second penalty try – although it was curious that this was awarded after only one engagement.
Finishing with a flourish
Hart added three more points worth of breathing space with another penalty as the game moved into the final quarter, while Hawick’s efforts to salvage at least some pride suffered a serious set-back when they lost another player to the sin-bin in replacement back-row Gary Lowrie.
Accies finished with a flourish with a sweeping passage of play culimating in second-row Ronan Seydak claiming his team’s fifth try just before the final whistle.
Will this save Accies from the threat of [possible] relegation? They are still seven points adrift with just three games to go, but they play second bottom Glasgow Hawks away next week, which is going to be huge.
“Hawks are fairly streetwise and Balgray is a difficult pitch to play on,” concluded O’Riordan. “We won’t be able to play an attacking style like that if it gets wet through there, so we need to start working on some of our tight stuff going into next week. But we will certainly go there with confidence, that’s for sure.”
Edinburgh Accies: H Paterson; C Gray, R Kent, N Armstrong, T Brown; V Hart, M Love; C Imrie, R Simpson, M McGinley, R Seydak, M Badenhorst, J Mann, N Stephen, J Sole. Subs: C Black, C Taylor, A Inwood, M Sinclair, R Mill.
Hawick: A Weir; K Ford, A Mitchell, G Walker, L Ferguson; L Armstrong, G Welsh, S Muir, M Carryer, N Little, D Suddon, D Redpath, D Lowrie, S Graham, B McNeil. Subs: C Renwick, D Johnstone, G Lowrie, J Linton, K Davies.
Referee: Pierre Baptiste (France)
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Gray, Penalty Try 2, Paterson, Seydak; Con: Hart; Pen: Hart 2.
Hawick: Try: Mitchell; Con: Armstrong.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 5-0; 7-0; 14-0; 17-0; 22-0 (h-t) 22-5; 22-7; 29-7; 32-7; 37-7.
Yellow cards –
Edinbrugh Accies: Imrie
Hawick: Welsh, G Lowrie.
Man-of-the-Match: A huge effort from the whole home side, and especially the pack, but Robbie Kent at outside centre gave Accies real bite in both defence and attack.
Talking point: The threat of (possible) relegation is going to create a real edge during the final weeks of this Premiership season. Why would you want a league competition which doesn’t have the intensity of team’s fighting for survival? Is it good for player development to have games which don’t mean anything?