Edinburgh Accies 29
Glasgow Hawks 20
COLIN RENTON @ Raeburn Place
EDINBURGH ACCIES kept alive their play-off bid with a bonus point win over a Glasgow Hawks side that will be left ruing a tentative first half performance that meant a rally in the second period was too little, too late. The home side played some excellent rugby in the opening 40 minutes, meaning Hawks had few attacking opportunities. But the visitors were transformed after the restart, showing endeavour and guile to leave with a four-try bonus point.
While that was well-deserved, it simply added to the frustration of Hawks coach, Andy Hill, who said: “It was disappointing in terms of the first 40. We spoke about being really physical, and we weren’t. That allowed Accies to have good contact, get round the corner and they got tries out of that.
“Then we managed to come out and put them under pressure. We know that if we have the ball, we’re going to score tries. Once we got the ball and ran at people and asked Accies to make decisions, we scored tries.”
Hill wants to use the remaining weeks of the campaign to show what Hawks are capable of, adding: “We’re still focusing on trying to get up the league. I don’t think second bottom is a true reflection of where we’re at, but at the end of the day, the league table doesn’t lie.”
His sentiments were matched in the home camp, where Iain Berthinussen was equally frustrated, albeit his view was a mirror image of that expressed by Hill.
“I was delighted with the first half. We were really clinical, I felt we put them under real pressure and when we got into the 22 we took our opportunities”, said the Accies head coach. “The second half was complete night and day. We made some changes hoping we would get a bit of a drive and that didn’t really happen, so that’s disappointing.
“We just let them play a bit too much and we soaked up pressure instead of going at them. We needed to win which is great and we got five points which we needed to do. We need to do that next week and we need to do that the week after.”
Berthinussen has received a timely boost with the availability of Cal Davies and Robbie Kent, who were both outstanding, while several other key men are close to regaining full fitness. Their return could be vital to the challenge for a top four finish and a third successive spot in the Premiership play-offs.
Accies opened up with intent, but their relentless attack was met by a solid Hawks defence that creaked a couple of times in the opening 10 minutes but refused to yield. However, the visitors were unable to break into opposition territory and there was an inevitability about who would bag the first points.
Having lost opportunities to a forward pass, an overhit penalty into touch and squandered ball after a line-out steal, Accies finally broke through on 17 minutes. With Hawks prop Kyle Shanahan seeing out a 10 minute spell in the sin bin, Ben Appleson banged a penalty into touch. Richard Thompson gathered the throw from Davies before the hooker retook possession and crashed over.
Davies almost made it a double but he was held up by over the line. The second score was only briefly delayed and it came when the ball was spun wide to Robbie Chalmers, who stepped neatly off his right foot and inside the final defender then flopped over the try line.
The gap grew when Patrick Ritchie caught the Hawks defence napping with a tap-and-go from a close-range penalty.
There was half an hour on the clock before the visitors mounted an attack of note. James Couper asked questions of the home defence for the first time. His effort came to nothing, but Hawks suddenly had the momentum and they made it count on their next visit. After finding the route down the right flank blocked, they spun the ball to the other wing where Ryan Flett dotted down in the corner.
Accies regained the initiative and by half time they had secured the bonus point try. Appleson jinked to within striking distance then smuggled the ball to Davies who completed the job, leaving the try’s creator with a simple conversion to complete the first half scoring.
Hawks had fired a limited number of shots in the opening period, but they came out with all guns blazing for the second half and clawed their way back into the contest with a clever line-out move. Paul Cairncross threw a long ball and Flett collected then raced into space, before Hawks finished off in style when James Pinkerton darted over.
The hosts were now under sustained pressure and they managed to see out that spell on the back foot without conceding further points. Indeed, they were next to add to their tally. George Woods made the initial break and Appleson carried on the move before delivering a perfectly judged chip for Max Wallace to score.
The Hawks of the first half might have folded at this point, but the second-half version of the visiting side responded with another period in the ascendancy. That paid off when Pinkerton fired out a long pass for Flett to sprint over.
And the visitors clinched the bonus point they merited for their second half showing when the ball was swept through four pairs of hands to Ben Morriss who showed his pace to go round the last man and secure the fourth Hawks try.
Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; R Kent, N Armstrong, G Woods, M Wallace; B Appleson, P Ritchie; C Imrie, C Davies, C Crookshanks, C Bain, R Thompson, T Drennan, D McGrath, A Wood. Subs: F McAslan, S Whittaker, R Dunbar, M Love, C Allan.
Glasgow Hawks: W Burrows; J Couper, J Pinkerton, C Ferrie, R Flett; D McCartney, J Imrie; K Shanahan, P Cairncross, E Cairns, M Crumlish, S Halafihi, A Syme, C Nolan, T Wright. Subs: A Burgess, F Muir, M Goodwin, B Skinner, B Morriss.
Referee: M Bosman
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Davies 2, Chalmers, Ritchie, Wallace; Cons: Appleson 2
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Flett 2, Pinkerton, Morriss
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 5-0; 10-0; 12-0; 17-0; 17-5; 22-5; 24-5 (h-t) 24-10; 29-10; 29-15; 29-20.
Glasgow Hawks: Shanahan
Man-of-the-Match: Hawks were well served by Ryan Flett, James Pinkerton and Paul Cairncross, while Robbie Chalmers, Robbie Kent and Richard Thompson stood out for Accies. But it was the home hooker Cal Davies who earned the nod for a two-try contribution that featured a typically valuable lesson in doing the simple things well.
Talking point: The game was a microcosm of Accies’ season, with spells of outstanding rugby and some lax periods that could have cost them the match. However, the five-point haul means there is still much to play for. That’s also true of Hawks, who are looking to show their true selves and finish the campaign on a positive note.