Edinburgh Accies 15
ALAN LORIMER @ Raeburn Place
IN what was very nearly a carbon copy of last season’s meeting at Raeburn Place, the current Premiership champions Hawick produced a gritty, if not exactly an elegant performance, to nudge aside Edinburgh Accies, resulted in the Greens leapfrogging the host club for league position.
Certainly, the commitment of both sides could not be faulted but dig a bit deeper and there were plenty of flaws to be seen, some of which were fixable at half-time but others which will need a training session or nine to address.
Most palpable was the line-out, an area of the game in which Hawick looked frail in the first half before this particular virus found a hospitable host in Accies after the interval. Accies, too, struggled in the scrums where their third/fourth choice props were up against the formidable might of Shawn Muir and Nicky Little.
Acccies’ problems in areas of their forward play were, however, compensated by the hard work of their back -five among whom Jamie Sole showed no sign of diminishing performance despite his proximity to the veterans category. The other back-row to catch the eye for Accies was the former Jed open side Kieran Slingsby, who got through a ton of good work.
Behind the scrum, Accies looked dangerous at times when they used the considerable width of Raeburn Place to move the ball, often deploying the inside pass to strong effect. But despite some accurate handling they were rarely able to piece a robust Hawick defence that was alert to most of the home side’s attacking ploys.
If the game seemed a bit of a stalemate at times that was more about each side cancelling the other out rather than error-infested performances, a point amplified by Accies coach, Iain Berthinussen.
“It was probably a game for the purists,” he said. “A lot of effort went in from both sides. I felt we didn’t get the rub of the green (no pun intended) and we maybe should have got a penalty try in the first half. But I was delighted that we were able to get the bonus point right at the end of the game. I was also pleased that our front five adapted well after being under the cosh”.
For Hawick, this was all about the win, important to the Greens after their toppling at Marr two weeks ago. “We got beat on the road last time out and Accies are a top four side,” reflected Matty Douglas, the Hawick coach, who nevertheless conceded that all did not work out as planned.
“We were pleased with our scrummaging in the first half but as a team we didn’t get going,” he added. “At least we were getting fron-foot ball but we just couldn’t do anything with it.
“Second half we stayed in the fight and had to dig deep to get a win. I thought defensively we were bang on today. This now sets us up for the big clash next week [against Currie Chieftains]. Individually, I thought Shawn Muir was immense and Jae Linton had a couple of big carries and 60 metre dash up the touchline. But we failed to capitalise on this.”
Accies looked the more convincing side in the opening exchanges and should have scored when Finlay MacNeill latched on to the bouncing ball five metres out from try-land only for the wing to lose control of the oval shaped tantaliser over the line.
Hawick lost the services of Andrew Mitchell with a face injury for some ten minutes, his place taken by the promising Bailey Donaldson, who was still on the pitch when Kirk Ford kicked a penalty goal for the first points of the game.
The visitors then had to do without stand-off Kyle Brunton, yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on to stop Accies scoring on the overlap, the incident provoking uproar among the home supporters who were convinced the referee would have awarded a penalty try.
The score stayed at 3-0 until just two minutes from half-time when a move triggered by a storming run by (the now patched-up) Mitchell ended with Ronan McKean crossing in the left hand corner for an unconverted try.
Hawick’s eight point lead was quickly eroded largely by their own doing after a wayward kick from hand was run out of defence by the impressive Struan Wells. The full-back made 40 metres before linking with his forwards, the move initially stopped by the Hawick defence but from recycled ball, Sole was on hand to run in his side’s first points.
Looking more purposeful after the interval, Hawick increased their lead with a try by scrum-half Gareth Welsh after the visitors forwards had made ground with pick-and-drive play. Ford missed the conversion but at the other end Jamie Loomes was on target with a penalty kick.
Then, after Ford had missed another kick at goal, Hawick reset the attacking button with a rampaging run from Linton that should have ended with a score. They did achieve further points soon after when Ford countered well from a high kick by Accies before setting Mitchell off on charge to the corner.
Accies seemed to have their defences ready but the big Hawick centre managed to stay infield to dot down in the corner, Ford goaling the touchline conversion for a 20-8 lead.
To their credit, Accies roared back and turned the screw, eking out a string of penalties and a yellow-card for replacement Russell Anderson before bench prop Arran Hain crashed over from close range, leaving a simple conversion for Loomes and thoughts of what might have been for his entire team.
Edinburgh Accies: S Wells; M Wallace, R Chalmers, G Woods, F Macneill; J Loomes©, P Ritchie; C Imrie, F McAslan, S Habib, C Bain, S Whittaker, F Simpson, K Slingsby, J Sole. Subs: G Hall, A Hain, C Thomson, B Grainger, B Appleson.
Hawick: K Ford; M Tait, A Mitchell, L Armstrong, R McKean; K Brunton, G Welsh; S Muir©, F Renwick, N Little, F Wilson, D Redpath, S Graham, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: T Hope, H Donaldson, G Lowrie, S Goodfellow, C Riddell.
Referee: John Smith
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Sole, Hain; Con: Loomes; Pen: Loomes.
Hawick: Tries: McKean, Welsh, Mitchell; Con: Ford; Pen: Ford.
Scoring Sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 0-3; 0-8; 5-8 (h-t) 5-13; 8-13; 8-18; 8-20; 13-20; 15-20.
Yellow cards –
Hawick: Brunton, Anderson
Man-of-the-Match: In the graft department, Jamie Sole stood out for Accies while in go-forward play Jae Linton, was Hawick’s gold medal winner, but this game hinged very much on the accuracy of kicking from hand and in this respect Accies scrum-half Patrick Ritchie was excellent in his box kicking.
Talking point: Hawick have had two wins since their Marr mauling and it may take further time to exorcise the demons that are probably still tormenting their minds. Next week, when Championship leaders Currie come to Mansfield Park, Hawick will need a more accurate performance than they displayed against Accies. As for the Raeburn Place men, two narrow defeats in a row should not blunt their ambition to finish in the top four but a number of issues need to be fixed.