Edinburgh Accies 41
COLIN RENTON @ Raeburn Place
EDINBURGH ACCIES secured a second successive bonus-point win, producing some excellent open rugby in the process. But they had to work hard to overcome a lively Musselburgh side, whose reward for refusing to buckle was a four-try bonus point. There were pluses and minuses to the respective performances, but naturally Iain Berthinussen was the happier of the two coaches.
The Accies man said, “It’s a five point-win but we are being uber-critical on ourselves and I think we have to be. First half we really stretched Musselburgh and put them under pressure, we probably went as clinical as we would have liked, then in the second half we put them under pressure again but we just coughed up ball too easily.
“There’s a lot of new guys coming into the fold, and a lot of guys getting a shot. It’s far better having those conversations when you’ve come off a five-point win. I’ve been on the other side a few times and it’s not as nice.”
His Musselburgh counterpart Derek O’Riordan was again left with mixed emotions. “We set a couple of targets going into the first block of five games – to take league points whenever we can and to score 15 league points over those games. We also want to improve our defence drastically on where we were last year so we’re not quite there yet”, he said.
“Accies showed what it’s like to be a top side from the physicality perspective. We were found out – we didn’t have an answer for it in the first half. Again, I’m happy with the degree of resilience to pull something out of the game but there has to be a point where we are not recognised as the plucky side or the resilient side and we develop into a side that can actually take it to teams like this. We’re a wee while off that yet.”
Accies rarely looked troubled after posting an early score through a Jamie Loomes penalty, and they looked good in attack, eventually building on that breakthrough. The Musselburgh defence held firm in the face of a series of pick-and-go efforts but they were eventually undone by a clever cross kick from Loomes that found Max Wallace in space and created the platform for a new spell in the ascendancy that ended with Cole Imrie crashing over.
A steal at a misfiring Accies line-out handed the visitors a chance to launch a first attack, but although it came to nothing, it did highlight the potential that existed to capitalise on Josh Arnold’s dominance at the set piece.
The visitors were now asking questions of the Accies defence and their pace in attack carried them to within sight of the line, where Danny Owenson took recycled ball and fired out a long pass that was shipped to adrotate group=”61″] who raced over. Owenson’s conversion trimmed the deficit to a point.
Stung by that concession, Accies responded with two quickfire tries. The first was a fine solo effort by Patrick Ritchie, who picked up at a scrum and hurtled over. Loomes was off the mark with the conversion but his nifty footwork created try number three when a clever chip into space was gathered by Ritchie who dotted down. Loomes added the extra points.
Musselburgh attempted to respond and Owenson found space with a kick ahead. Robbie Chalmers won the race and when his counter-attack was ended by a high tackle from Ross Brown, the prop was yellow-carded.
Chalmers, who had been menacing with ball in hand, bounced back instantly to clinch the bonus-point try when he gathered a deft offload from Matt Walker and stepped past the last man to dot down and leave Loomes a straightforward kick. However, the visitors had the final word in a fast-paced first half when Owenson banged over a long-range penalty.
Musselburgh restarted well but lacked composure at key moments. And they paid the price for their inability to capitalise on the pressure when Accies earned a penalty on their first second-half visit to opposition territory and Owenson was despatched to the sin-bin.
The home side profited from the extra man when Chalmers raced into the opposition 22 and freed Kerr Gossman for a try, converted by Ben Grainger, that made the game safe. And the hosts rubbed salt into the wounds when Angus Inwood did the spadework for Ritchie to bag his hat-trick, converted score of the afternoon.
To their credit, Musselburgh battled back and regained the initiative then capped a spell of pressure when Michael Badenhorst crashed over for an unconverted score.
Walker was next to see yellow when he took the rap for a mounting Accies team penalty count as the visitors finished strongly.
Musselburgh gave themselves the chance of a bonus point when Sandy Watt raced in at the corner. And the Stoneyhill men earned a deserved bonus point when Brown thundered over deep into injury time.
Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; M Wallace, G Woods, N Armstrong, K Gossman; J Loomes©, P Ritchie; C Imrie, G Hall, S Habib, C Bain, S Whittaker, F Simpson, K Slingsby, M Walker. Subs: H Campbell, A Hain, A Inwood, B Grainger, R Walsh.
Musselburgh: J Ferguson; O Craig, R Watt©, B Heber, S Watt; R Smith, D Owenson; R Brown, R Mackie, D Miller, J Herbert, J Arnold, J Lister, M Crawford, M Badenhorst. Subs: C Arthur, J Crain, G Inkster, R Hindhaugh, F Call.
Referee: Michael Todd.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Imrie, Ritchie 3, Chalmers, Gossman; Cons: Loomes 2, Grainger 2; Pen: Loomes.
Musselburgh: Tries: Mackie, Badenhorst, S Watt, Brown; Con: Owenson; Pen: Owenson.
Scoring sequence (Accies first): 3-0; 8-0; 8-5; 8-7; 13-7; 18-7; 20-7; 25-7; 27-7; 27-10 (h-t) 32-10; 34-10; 39-10; 41-10; 41-15; 41-20; 41-25.
Yellow cards –
Musselburgh: Brown, Owenson.
Man-of-the-match: Joss Arnold and Sandy Watt were the standout performers for Musselburgh, while the home side had several contenders. Robbie Chalmers and Neil Armstrong were both contenders, but the star man was Max Wallace, whose powerful running was key to the win.
Talking point: Accies are some way short of the finished article, but bonus-point wins in each of their opening matches show that they are on track to challenge again for a play-off spot.