Edinburgh Accies 42
COLIN RENTON @ Raeburn Place
EDINBURGH ACCIES bounced back from the disappointment of an away defeat seven days earlier to claim five league points, and take possession of the Bill McLaren Shield.
This showing confirmed what Accies coach Iain Berthinussen had said, that there is potential for this squad to do well. The depth was tested, with several key men unavailable but, without exception, the replacements were outstanding and his problem now is deciding who to leave out.
The reverse is true of Hawick, who were competitive for most of the game, but whose injury problems mean there are few options. It says much for the commitment of Shaun Fairbairn and Stuart Graham that both performed well after passing last-minute fitness tests. However, that also reveals how important those individuals are to a Hawick club that lacks the squad depth of some others in the Premiership.
There were no excuses from Hawick coach Matty Douglas, who was refreshingly honest in his assessment. “I felt we were in the game up until 55 minutes, then we switched off for five and gave away two scores,” he said. “Our mistakes cost us. As a squad we were really hopeful coming here to put a performance in in spells we have – we got into it late on, but we can’t get into a game in 70 minutes and expect to win.
“Credit to Accies, I thought they moved the ball well and had us on the back foot and took their chances. Now we have to get back on the horse for Hawks at home next week.”
For Berthinussen, the outcome was a satisfying response to events in the lead up to the game. “It’s been a challenging week. There was a lot of hard work and looking at ourselves after last week,” he said before paying tribute to the efforts of those who stepped. “For those boys who were unavailable, we’ll see what happens next week,” he added.
“I was delighted with the effort, our physicality was there, our work-rate was there and we were really clinical at times in attack. There are some key guys who will clearly come back in, but there are some boys who showed what they can do.”
Hawick made a lively start, with Deaglan Lightfoot changing the angle of attack with his clever distribution. However, a well-organised Accies defence repelled the Greens’ early efforts, and it was the hosts who took the lead in seven minutes. Robbie Kent made ground with a powerful break and offloaded to Angus Scott, who sent Ruari Campbell in for a try. Ben Appleson slotted the conversion.
A scrum penalty for Hawick was booted into touch and Fairbairn gathered then sparked a drive that ended with Matty Carryer crashing over. Kirk Ford tied the scores when his conversion scraped over. The afternoon got even better for the Borderers five minutes later when Accies failed to protect lineout ball. Carryer gathered and had another tilt at the home defence. When he was halted, the ball was moved wide to Ronan McKean, who dotted down in the corner.
The earlier problems at the lineout were forgotten in 20 minutes when Accies got it right and drove back the opposition, allowing Cole Imrie to touch down and Appleson to add the extras. And the same duo contributed seven more points just before the break with the loosehead blasting his way over to make it a double and the impressive stand-in number 10 again adding the extras to complete the first-half scoring.
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Accies tightened their grip after the restart when Imrie tapped a quick penalty but was stopped short, only for Finlay Simpson to complete the task. Appleson booted the additional points and he did so again after Scott sent Campbell in for a second time.
That looked to have made the game safe, but as many sides have learned over the years, writing off Hawick is a risky business. And, true to form, the visitors stepped up a gear. Bailey Donaldson almost sent Ford in, and when the ball was recycled, Glen Welsh darted over.
Winning the game looked an unlikely outcome for Hawick, but a bonus point was now a realistic target and the fourth try came with five minutes to spare, Gareth Welsh picking a direct line and stepping on the gas to slice through the home defence. Ford kicked the conversion and the gap was down to 11 points.
Accies weren’t quite finished and a slick breakout by Kent created the platform for Bobby Wilson to claim the final try for the hosts – Appleson maintaining his flawless kicking effort with the extra two points.
However, it was Hawick who had the final word when Donaldson raced in at the corner for a score that he deserved for his contribution to an entertaining encounter.
Edinburgh Accies: R Wilson; H Janes, R Kent, N Armstrong, L Manieson; B Appleson, B Afshar; C Imrie, A Scott, C Taylor, J Mills, F Simpson, A Inwood, M Walker, R Campbell©. Subs: G Stevenson, C Lacour, C Bain, B Grainger, M Wallace.
Hawick: K Ford; R McKean, A Redpath, Glen Welsh, M Tait; B Donaldson, D Lightfoot; T Hope, M Carryer©, R Macleod, R Smith, S Fairbairn, S Frizzel, S Graham, J Linton. Subs: N Little, C Tait, R Linton, Gareth Welsh, K Brunton.
Referee: Jonny Perriam.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Campbell 2, Imrie 2, Simpson, Wilson. Cons: Appleson 6.
Hawick: Tries: Carryer, McKean, Glen Welsh, Gareth Welsh, Donaldson. Cons: Ford 2
Scoring sequence (Accies first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-7; 7-12; 12-12; 14-12; 19-12; 21-12 (h-t) 26-12; 28-12; 33-12; 35-12; 35-17 35-22l; 35-24; 40-24; 42-24; 42-29.
Man of the match: Back at Raeburn Place after a period in Super6, centre Robbie Kent showed his pace and vision, and he just topped the pile of contenders, with Cole Imrie, Angus Scott and Ben Appleson also in the running.
Talking point: Club rugby is a good product and the new Raeburn Place set-up is an excellent place to spend a Saturday afternoon. However, there is a current feeling among clubs at all levels that there is no support from Murrayfield bosses in terms of promoting league games and preserving the future of some clubs. An AGM announcement would be welcomed, but few are holding their breath.