Edinburgh Accies 29
COLIN RENTON @ Raeburn Place
CALMNESS and determination ensured that Selkirk enjoyed a win that continues their recent upturn in form. At the same time, the result looks to have extinguished Edinburgh Accies’ lingering hopes of securing a play-off slot.
It was a game brimming with ambition and plenty of skill, but ultimately the outcome boiled down to Selkirk’s ability to recover quickly from conceding points. That was particularly pleasing for coach Gordon Henderson, who had been frustrated by the lack of opportunity to build on a win at Musselburgh last time out.
“To have six weeks off then put in a massive 80-minute shift just shows how connected we are,” he said, before praising the quality of the entertainment. “It was two good teams going for it and we’re just delighted with the win.
“There seemed to be a bit of calmness when we went scores down. We just moved on to the next job. We tried to repair the faults at half-time and we did that. Defensively some sets were outstanding.”
The match opened at a frantic pace, with Accies setting the tone as they stretched the opposition defence with a string of early attacks. And the hosts wasted no time in opening their account. With only two minutes on the clock, they spurned a kick for goal with a close-range penalty, and the tap-and-go was passed out to Richard Thomson, who crashed over in the corner.
Selkirk were also keen to run the ball, although their approach was more measured, making it easy for Accies to shut down the attacking opportunities. However, they found a way through with 17 minutes played. A series of attacks on the right edged them closer to the line and when the ball was worked left, Hugo Alderson picked out Callum Anderson who took the pass at pace and sliced through for a tidy finish. Alderson added the conversion to nudge the Borderers into the lead.
Accies responded with a fresh series of attacks, moving the ball wide whenever possible. A multi-phase effort took them to within striking distance of the line, where Patrick Richie picked up the recycled ball and dived over, leaving Max Wallace a straightforward conversion.
Two wayward passes cost the hosts the chance to extend their lead, and they paid the price for that wastefulness when Selkirk went in at the interval with their noses in front after Aaron McColm dummied his way over with the final play and Alderson stroked over the conversion.
Selkirk restarted well but it was Accies who scored the first points of the half. Thomson took a pass on the edge of the Selkirk 22 and raced at the defence before feeding Connor Allan, who sprinted in at the corner.
Selkirk struck back when a penalty to touch created the platform for a series of drives that fell just short before the ball was swept out to Finlay Wheelans to finish. Alderson banged over the conversion via a post for a four-point lead.
The Accies riposte was instant, with pressure from the restart seeing the hosts take possession and edge their way up field where Dom McGrath applied the final touch to clinch the bonus-point score.
Selkirk regained the initiative when Alderson landed the only penalty attempt on goal from either side, and the Borderers looked to have made the win safe when Anderson pounced on a fumble and applied boot to ball then raced through to gather and dot down, leaving Alderson to extend his flawless kicking contribution and stretch the gap to nine points.
Accies were not quite finished and claimed a further try when McGrath hurtled over for a second time to restore the narrow defeat bonus. That raised home hopes of a further twist to the game but a wayward pass with the final play saw the ball trundle into touch, all but ending the Accies challenge for a top-four finish.
“If we had stolen it at the end, it probably wouldn’t have been the right result,” admitted Accies coach Iain Berthinussen. “I thought Selkirk just wanted it that little bit more than us, which is a bit frustrating. We let them back into the game every time we scored and that’s the thing that killed us.”
He will look to end the campaign with an improved performance at Currie before switching focus to the cup. Looking to pinpoint where the top-four bid had faltered, he added, “I think we would have been really lucky to have sneaked in. We’ve lost too many games by small margins this year. I can never fault the effort of the boys but that clinical edge and the doggedness to keep a team out is probably the two bits that we need to have a real look at.”
Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; G Woods, R Kent, N Armstrong©, M Wallace; B Appleson, P Ritchie; C Imrie, F McAslan, C Crookshanks, R Thomson, S Whittaker, T Drennan, K Slingsby, A Wood. Subs: G Hall, R Dunbar, D McGrath, B Jackson, C Allan.
Selkirk: C Anderson; F Wheelans, A Grant-Suttie, R Nixon, B Cullen; Aaron McColm, H Alderson; L Pettie, J Bett, Z Szwagrzak, Andrew McColm, A Cochrane, L Cassidy, S McClymont©, K Westlake. Subs: S Clark, B Riddell, R Murray, C Turnbull, C Easson.
Referee: R McDowell.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Thomson, Ritchie, Allan, McGrath 2; Cons: Wallace, Allan.
Selkirk: Tries: Anderson 2, Aaron McColm, Wheelans; Cons: Alderson 4; Pen: Alderson.
Scoring sequence (Accies first): 5-0; 5-5; 5-7; 10-7; 12-7; 12-12; 12-14 (h-t) 17-14; 17-19; 17-21; 22-21; 22-24; 22-29; 22-31; 27-31; 29-31.
Man-of-the-Match: Selkirk were gritty and competitive, and no one more so than Hugo Alderson, who came out on top in an intriguing personal battle at scrum-half with Patrick Ritchie. However, the man whose influence was most evident was Callum Anderson, who topped a fine running and kicking performance with a two-try haul.
Talking point: Neither side has delivered to their full potential during the league campaign, but both are capable of doing some damage in the cup, so there is still much to play for in the next phase of the season.