Premiership: Edinburgh Accies down Glasgow Hawks in battle of all-out attack

Hosts edge a gripping battle over play-off rivals to pick up five valuable Premiership points and retain the Bill McLaren Shield

Edinburgh Accies edged a valuable win over play-off rivals Glasgow Hawks at Raeburn Place. Image: John Wright
Edinburgh Accies edged a valuable win over play-off rivals Glasgow Hawks at Raeburn Place. Image: John Wright

Edinburgh Accies 36

Glasgow Hawks 34

COLIN RENTON @ Raeburn Place

EDINBURGH ACCIES just held on to take the win in a real ding-dong affair that featured two sides intent on playing open rugby, but perhaps focusing so much on attack that they left themselves exposed in defence. It was an entertaining affair for the neutral, perhaps less satisfying for the coaches.  

“We said all week that they would score tries and that we had to step up defensively, and that if we did that we would score tries,” said Accies coach Iain Berhinussen. “We didn’t turn up defensively, but we scored tries and we showed a lot of character at the end to get a win in what was a good club game with club players.

“Credit to Hawks, they kept coming back at us. If we had maybe got a penalty on top, or a second score ahead of them, we maybe could have kicked on, but we just couldn’t get that second score away.”


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The result takes Accies a step closer to having their name etched on the Bill McLaren Shield, and Berthinussen makes no secret of the importance to the club of achieving that honour, adding, “We’re desperate to get our name on that shield.”

Accies had to battle hard to remain on track for that honour, and they suffered an early blow when scrum-half Ben Afshar limped off after two minutes. However, the hosts shrugged off that setback to take the lead when Jamie Loomes booted a penalty into touch close to the Hawks line and Accies drove over from the ensuing lineout to leave Callum Black the task of touching down.

Hawks struck back when Liam Brims burst from his own half and offloaded to Hamu Lee. The full-back showed his pace to sprint at the opposition defence then free Fraser Gosse, who raced over to tie the scores.

The hosts regained the initiative after 19 minutes with a reprise of the move that brought their earlier points, Black again applying the final touch.

The end-to-end stuff continued and Hawks were helped by a clearance kick that went straight into touch. They used that error to maximum effect, winning the lineout and driving the hosts backwards, with Lewis McNamara in possession. And when he surged for a second time, a gap appeared and he powered over for a try. Brims added the conversion to hand the visitors the lead, then extended the advantage with a penalty from in front of the posts.

Accies ended the half in the ascendancy, but a solid effort by the away defence kept them at bay and left Hawks with a five-point cushion at the break.

 

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The second period resumed in the same fashion, with Accies pressing and Hawks holding firm. However, a try seemed inevitable, and it came six minutes after the restart when a series of pick-and-go attempts ended with Finlay Simpson powering over and Loomes banging over the conversion to snatch back the initiative for Accies.

The gap grew ten minutes later when Matt Walker had a go but came up just short. The ball was worked wide to Ben Appleson, whose clever chip outfoxed the Hawks defence and found Mark Sinclair in space to complete the task. Loomes watched as his conversion attempt battered back off the post, leaving a converted try as the margin between the sides.

And Hawks bridged that gap as the game approached the final quarter. McNamara made the initial break, then Brendan McGroarty, Lee and Goss continued the move, before Istok Totic was on hand to gather and show impressive pace as he scuttled in between the sticks to leave Brims a simple kick that restored parity.

Accies were stung into action once more, and Appleson was again involved before Ruari Campbell capped a fine performance when he shrugged off two defenders to crash over. Loomes thumped over the touchline conversion.

Back came Hawks and when two close-range penalties were repelled, the ball was moved along the line to McNamara, who forced his way over, with Brims again converting.

With five minutes to play, the game was there for the winning, and Accies staked a claim when Appleson broke from halfway and drew the final defender with a dummy, before releasing Sinclair to gallop over for his second try of the afternoon. Loomes again slotted the kick from out wide.

It seemed likely that this match still had more points in it. And so it proved, as Jack McLean blasted his way into the opposition half and linked up with Lee, who carried on the move before freeing Ryan Flett, who sped in at the corner, leaving Brims a tricky conversion from the right flank to garner a share of the points. However, he slipped as he made contact with the ball and the kick went wide, leaving Accies as narrow winners, and Hawks with two bonus points as consolation, plus some harsh words from coach Andy Hill ringing in their ears.

“It’s as poorly as we’ve played, to be honest”, was his assessment. “We talk about pushing to do something special and getting to a final and winning the league. Neither team is going to win a league with that kind of defence.”

Even the ability to keep fighting back did not appease Hill, who added: “We’ve got character, we know that. We’ve come back twice to win. But we need more than character, we need quality if we want to be in the top end of the league.”

 

Teams – 

Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Janes, V Hart, N Armstrong, M Sinclair; J Loomes, B Afshar; C Imrie, C Black, R Montgomery, J Mills, F Simpson, C Reid, J Sole, R Campbell. Subs: C Lacour, F McAslan, M Walker, B Grainger, W Stephen.

Glasgow Hawks: H Lee; R Flett, B McGroarty, F Gosse, R Joy; L Brims, M Donaldson; M Downer, I Totic, G Strain, A Syme, J McLean, L Stewart, T Brown, L McNamara. Subs: P Cairncross, A Rogers, I Carmichael, F Burgess, M Stewart.

Referee: M Todd.

 

Scorers –

Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Black 2, Simpson, Sinclair 2, Campbell; Cons: Loomes 3.  

Glasgow Hawks: McNamara 2, Gosse, Totic, Flett; Cons: Brims 3; Pen: Brims.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 5-0, 5-5, 10-5, 10-10, 10-12, 10-15 (h-t), 15-15, 17-15, 22-15, 22-20, 22-22, 27-22, 29-22, 29-27, 29-29, 34-29, 36-29, 36-34.

 

 

Man of the match: The battle of the number 8s was a keenly contested head-to-head, with Lewis McNamara and Ruari Campbell both big contributors for their respective sides, and both try-scorers, but the Accies skipper just gets the nod for his leadership and decision-making.

Talking point: Accies coach Iain Berthinussen underlined the respect he and his players have for the Bill McLaren Shield, and their burning desire to have their name engraved on it. It’s a piece of silverware that is often overlooked but clearly means a lot.

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About Colin Renton 195 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!