Glasgow Accies 53
FINN TAIT @ New Anniesland
GLASGOW ACCIES clinched the National Two title and promotion to National One by the narrowest of margins with a sensational win over top of the table rivals Falkirk at New Anniesland on Saturday. A brace from Jack McCready and hatt-rick from captain Ross Cowan secured a fairy-tale 38-point win.
The result left Falkirk languishing third in the table, two points off the pace, while Accies pipped Newton Stewart at the post. After a 22 game campaign, the two sides has won 18 matches each, lost four each, picked up 14 try bonus-points and one losing bonus-point each, but crucially, the Glasgow side had a positive points differential of 396, while their rivals from Wigtownshire managed 395.
Accies coach Ryan Grant swelled with pride when reflecting on his team’s achievement. “All season we’ve been looking for an 80-minute performance from the boys and its been frustrating that we’ve played well in patches,” said the former Scotland and Lions prop. “Today we played with maturity and composure, I feel the target of the aggregate score to make up was part of the reason we did it. We are guilty as a team of switching off at times and we just had no room to do that today so [I’m] very proud of the boys”.
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Looking ahead to a season in National One, he added: “The squad is incredibly capable, if we can play like that and get everything right its great group of guys. A lot of the players playing today have come up through National Three and other paths, we aren’t recruiting players we are sticking with the squad we have and I think they’ll go really well. We have played against high end teams in pre-season friendlies and done alright so the challenge is there but I think we will go well.”
Accies entered the playing arena to a raucous reception, with blue flare smoke swirling to welcome the home side. Meanwhile, the visitors from Falkirk had brought an impressive away contingent setting up a fantastic atmosphere.
Accies looked set to go over in the corner before an intervention from Stewart McCulloch, who was lucky to escape as yellow, and the hosts went again from the scrum. Tighthead prop Dominic Grzymkowski turned on the power and allowed his No 8 Declan Papadakis to thunder over for the opening score. Winger Colin Taylor converted to rapturous cheers from the home support.
Falkirk began to find their feet, earning three points from the boot of Glen Faulds and threatening when rampaging lock Gregor Dodd burst the line only for his offload to find grass. A tip tackle from Accies coughed up another three to the boot of Faulds, who was steadily growing into the game, feeding off the travelling support. Accies’ ill-discipline proved to be their biggest enemy with Faulds happy to take advantage of every indiscretion.
The experienced Accies coaching team of Grant, Ruaridh Jackson and Ryan Wilson will have overjoyed their side’s response, when Max Hutcheon towered highest to set up another attack, and after Falkirk lost Andrew Graham to the sin-bing, Cowan slid over in the corner to restore the home lead.
Accies came again through Jack McCready, who left one defender for dead before using electric footwork to beat the Falkirk full-back to go in under the posts. Taylor made no mistake with the conversion this time and Accies stretched their lead to 10.
Falkirk knew the task at hand, taking any opportunity to take points, with Faulds’ tally now into double digits as they kept in touch. The half ended with the excellent Faulds evading numerous Accies men before his chip ahead dribbled into touch. It really was a scintillating end of season tie.
The second half started badly for Falkirk, who lost Dodd to a yellow card from a brutal looking tackle that slipped too high. Accies burst forward through substitute Matt Holland whose immediate impact was telling, often popping up for a rampaging carry. This bruising run created the space for Accies to come back down the blind-side and Cowan was able to stride in for his second.
Faulds added another penalty, but it was all Accies early in the second half. The back-row trio of Harry Briggs, James Evans and Papadakis each putting their body on the line to drive Accies down to the corner before McCready and Cowan combined to put Taylor in for try number five.
Accies really began to turn on the style with Cowan completing his hat-trick in style. Taylor failed to convert, but Accies began to dream of that 38-point target.
Accies were relentless in their march back down the field and back-row Evans was rewarded for an industrious performance when he burst several tackles and dived over. Fin Neilson converted and Accies’ lead was now 26, the crowd noise was deafening as the team was urged on in their hunt for 12 points to secure promotion.
Falkirk lost another man to the bin, this time Connor Faulds was the culprit of a deliberate knock-on, and Accies launched another assault on the line. Papadakis was held up but Falkirk’s drop-out was sliced and straight out. Scrum Accies on the line. A front row that had played every minute piled on the pressure and drove a beleaguered Falkirk over their own line to get seven points closer to that elusive 38-point margin.
What followed was like something out of a fairytale. McCready wriggled free from kick-off with a shimmy and shake, then turned on the burners and escaped down the touchline. The stand was bouncing, but the winger still had it all to do with a man to beat, however his dummy and go was enough to fool the replacement full-back. He galloped in fists pumping and the crowd going wild. Coaches were on the field and beers were flying everywhere in celebration of a famous Accies win and the title secured.
“We are obviously disappointed to end the season that way,” said Falkirk director of rugby Kenny Grieve. “It’s not how we would’ve liked to sign off and not what we planned. Fair play to Glasgow Accies, they came out knowing what they had to do and they executed. We didn’t help ourselves with three yellow cards, its hard to get back into a game when you are down a player for most of it.’
“Overall, we’ve had a fantastic season,” he added. “It proves where we are … we aren’t ready to go up. We will learn from this and challenge again next season. The guys will be another year older, the average age of our squad is maybe 24 or 25 so there’s a lot of experience still to be had which bodes well for the future.
“We must learn from days like today and be more clinical in future. The players and us as a coaching staff will be better for it and we will hopefully be in another great title chase next season.”
Glasgow Accies: R Cowan©; C Taylor, J Smith, S Simmons, J McCready; C Niblock, B Molloy; M Ashdown, T Blackhall, D Grzymkowski, M Hutcheon, K Greggain, H Briggs©, J Evans, D Papadakis. Subs: S Carr, M Holland, F Neilson, R McNaught.
Falkirk: S Serafini, A Gillespie, D Ashworth, S Yarrow, G Dodd, G Brodie, K Ross, S McCulloch©, C Davie, G Faulds, G Ramsay, E Cassells, G Gilliland, A Graham, C Faulds Subs: N Chisholm, C Hazlett, C Ronald, L McNicoll.
Referee: Gordi Reid
Glasgow Accies: Tries : Papadakis, McCready 2, Cowan 3, Taylor, Evans, Penalty; Cons: Taylor 2 Neilson.
Falkirk: Pens: G Faulds 5
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Accies first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-3; 7-6; 7-9; 12-9; 17-9 19-9; 19-12; (h-t) 24-12; 24-15; 29-15; 34-15; 39-15; 41-15; 48-15; 53-15;.
Yellow cards –
Fakirk: Graham (25 mins), Dodd (41 mins), C Faulds (75mins).
Man-of-the-Match: Ross Cowan delivered a captains performance and scored a wonderful hat-trick and is incredibly unlucky to miss out, but the title/promotion was clinched by the magic of Jack McCready. Both scores were try-of-the-season contenders and his individual brilliance sealed the deal when it really mattered.
Talking point: Coach Ryan Grant discussed the need for an 80-minute Accies performance, his side delivered in spades and, on this evidence, will be a real threat in National One next year. Their mostly homegrown squad has all the makings of a team that could do serious damage at a high level in years to come.
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Of all the scenarios there were for this match, I never expected this one. Well done Accies on a great result. To win a league by one point differential is some going. Especially given the 17-93 result Newton Stewart had the week before.
Who says club rugby is boring?
Club rugby can be exciting and more importantly fun. I know my friend John Beattie along with others has worked behind the scenes to reinvigorate Glasgow Accies. Good coaches, look after ALL your players and you will have good club rugby.
“Club rugby can be exciting and more importantly fun”
Exactly. Please tell your mate Dodson.
Superb report. Great writing.