Edinburgh Accies 57
IAIN MORRISON @ Raeburn Place
THIS was a game of completely contrasting halves. In the opening 40 we had a competitive and intriguing rugby match on our hands. While Accies looked the better side they led at the break by just 21 points to 14, three tries to two. In the second half the floodgates opened and Accies filled their boots, running in an additional five touchdowns, four of which arrived in a third quarter deluge that effectively ended the game.
Accies certainly upped their game but Jed will be worried at their near total capitulation after the break when they failed to add to their score.
In the first half Accies played too much rugby inside their own 22. It was obviously part of the game plan but it equally obviously didn’t really work because too many passes were spilled, handing the ball and the initiative back to the visitors
Robbie Chalmers was involved in most of Accies best plays. He provides pace and nous from full-back and his delicate little chip kicks sowed confusion amongst the Jed defenders. More than once he simply had too much pace for the Jed cover.
Meanwhile, fly-half Ben Appleson kicked immaculately off the tee, registering 100 percent in front of goal, claiming 17 points thanks to seven conversions and the only penalty of the game (with the only missed conversion of the match was by Accies’ replacement Patrick Ritchie).
Accies opened the scoring after just 10 minutes of action and only after Jed had turned down an easy three in favour of the attacking line-out which came to nothing. Accies did the same at the opposite end of the field but they made it stick. The home side won the line-out thanks to Tom Drennan, drove the maul and hooker Grant Hall was the last man up with the ball.
Accies used the exact same ploy on the opposite side of the field for their third try of the afternoon, this one falling to flanker Kieran Slingsby who, according to his mates in the Accies bar, also made four turnovers in the game.
In between these two scores, Accies flanker Ted Jones added the second try from close range after winger Kerr Gossman was stopped short.
Despite their insistence on running the ball from all corners of the field it was the driving maul that provided two of Accies three first half scores.
For their part Jed had taken a leaf out of Accies playbook and the Borderers threw the ball about Barbarians’ style, if not always with Barbarians’ accuracy. They went left, right, left again to create space on the flank for winger Robbie Shirra-Gibb to canter home from 20 metres out and he didn’t even need the spare man outside him.
That score breathed life into the visiting team who then won a scrum penalty despite the fact that this was Jamie Ferguson’s first stint as a loose-head prop, having previously turned out as a hooker.
Jed were fiercely competitive in the first half, none more so than scrum-half Aidan Bambrick who harried his opposite number Ben Grainger into an error at the base of the scrum. It looked like the Jed nine intercepted Grainger’s pass with his boot and was first to pounce on the ball in no man’s land.
Accies took a nervy 21-14 lead into the half time dressing room where head coach Iain Berthinussen presumably gave them a dressing down because what followed bore absolutely no relationship with what we had already witnessed as the hosts started the second half with an intensity and intent that had been largely absent from much of the first 40.
“To be honest, I was going to say something but the players beat me to it,” said the Accies coach. “They understood that the first half is not what we are about.
“What I did tell them was that while Jed are struggling they still have a lot of very good players and we needed to respect that and play accordingly. And I think we did that after the break.”
Indeed they did. Accies scored 31 unanswered points, four converted tries and a penalty, in the third quarter which ended the game as a contest.
First up, Chris Thomson carried four or five royal blue shirts over the try line as the Accies No 8 scored far too easily. Then the tight-head prop Calum Crookshanks burrowed over from short range and lock Drennan did the same thing in the exact same spot.
With their tails up, Accies piled more misery on Jed-Forest shoulders. Winger Gossman was denied a try in the left corner when Applseson’s cross kick bounced unkindly for him but he struck soon enough, popping up in midfield to find a gap and touching down under the sticks.
In the space of 20 minutes Accies had stretched a seven point lead into a 38 point advantage that they never looked like losing. In the final quarter of the match, Grainger scored Accies’ eighth try of the afternoon after Chalmers made all the running.
With the game long gone, Jed actually muscled the ball over Accies’ try line … only for the referee to declare that it had been held up. An afternoon to forget for the Borderers who remain winless this season and only managed to scrape together 18 fit players for this trip to Edinburgh..
“I thought we were very competitive for the first half,” said a shell shocked coach David Grieve. “We defended well and I thought our structure was good too.
“It seems like we have to have a lull in every game we play and this afternoon it was in the second half. It’s difficult to know why the players seem to wilt, and you can see the result for yourself. It’s very difficult but you have to keep trying.”
Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; F MacNeill, N Armstrong (Capt), G Woods, K Gossman; B Appleson, B Grainger; C Imrie, G Hall, C Crookshank, T Drennan, S Whittaker, T Jones, K Slingby, C Thomson. Substitutes: F McAslan, A Hain, M Walker, P Richie, J Jones.
Jed-Forest: M Glen; B Irvine, R Marshall, L Elder, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, A Bambrick, J Ferguson, H Keith; H Meadows, C Skeldon, J Hynd, D Wardrop, B Roff, B Fotheringham. Substitutes: H Stenhouse, N Bates, A Hendrie.
Referee: Fergus Hollins.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Hall, Jones, Slingsby, Thomson, Crookshank, Drennan, Gossman, Grainger; Cons: Appleson 7; Pen: Appleson.
Jed-Forest: Tries: Shirra-Gibb, A Bambrick; Cons: Buckley 2.
Sequence of scoring (Edinburgh Accies first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 14-5; 14-7; 19-7; 21-7; 21-12; 21-14. (h-t) 26-14; 28-14; 31-14; 36-14; 38-14; 43-14; 45-14; 50-14; 52-14; 57-14.
Man-of-the-Match: Ben Applseson kicked everything he was asked to and kicked well from hand, if not quite enough in that first half. Hooker Grant Hall grabbed a try and looked lively in the loose and Kieran Slingby did well at the breakdown, but the award goes to Robbie Chalmers who was a constant threat from full-back.
Talking point: In the final few minutes of the match, Jed scrummy Adian Bambrick was struggling with cramp in his calves and his opposite number Ben Grainger came to his rescue, stretching the muscle for the Jed man. In a game that was occasionally fractious it was nice to see the old values still hold sway.