Edinburgh Accies 31
IAIN MORRISON @ Raeburn Place
ACCIES won this match by five tries to two but despite the convincing score they made heavy weather of it on an afternoon that saw all the seasons, wind, rain and sun in pretty much equal measure. The match was level pegging at the break then two scores in quick succession in the third quarter saw Accies nail this one down and they went on to score another try before the end, winning comfortably but playing well within themselves.
The home side entertain and frustrate in equal measure, playing only in patches rather than for the full 80 minutes and Accies’ performance at the death, defending their line successfully but conceding umpteen penalties, each one as dumb as the last, was what stuck in the mind and the craw.
Accies were poor in the first half, lazy and obsessed with playing their all-court, total rugby game-plan which was well nigh impossible to execute when the ball was a bar of soap. There is at least the suspicion that Accies’ forward pack has a soft centre although it will take a better team than Jed-Forest to expose the weakness if it is there?
The visitors fronted well with livewire scrum-half Aiden Bambrick the pick of the backs. The forwards stuck to the task, dominating long periods of the second half when the swirling wind was, more or less, in their favour. Flanker Blake Roff was a reliable source of supply at the sidelines and his breakaway buddy Garry Young showed up well with the ball in hand, while both locks, Gregor Law and Clarke Skeldon, earned their corn the hard way.
“It’s normally us that’s better in the second half but this week we put in a fantastic performance in the first half,” said Jed coach Andrew Brown. “We put a lot of pressure onto Edinburgh Accies but we knew they would be a different team in the second half and come after us and we just didn’t manage to contain them.”
Under darkening skies, Accies threatened first, with Ruairi Campbell making huge inroads up the right flank, but it was Jed that opened the scoring through the try machine that is Paulo Ferreira. They won an attacking line-out from Accies indiscipline, shirt tugging in this instance, and after several assaults were repelled the beefy tight-head burrowed his way to the Accies line with seven minutes on the clock.
Accies responded quickly because just five minutes later Campbell put boot to ball and chased his own kick to wrap up Jed’s cover defence and win an attacking, five-yard scrum. It took Accies just two phases of play before loose-head Cole Imre, it was a day for ducks and props, scored to level things for the home side.
The visitors could have wilted but instead they stayed in the game even if much of it was being played deep inside their own half. Both sides kicked plenty but Accies did it much better than Jed, largely thanks to the booming boot of Ben Appleson at full-back. After his kick sailed over the Jed heads a few times they dropped back another fifteen metres.
Jed’s second score came from nothing but was pretty much perfect in terms of execution. Bambrick found the blindside patrolled by Accies big men so the little scrummy made the initial half break before finding Mason Cullen with a perfectly judged pass. The winger still had plenty to do, stepping in off his wing, avoiding a couple of tackles and touching down under the posts.
That score came on 22 minutes and it wasn’t until the very end of the first half that Accies found a response …another five metres scrum, another drive, another try, this one going to captain Campbell.
Accies effectively put this one to bed in the ten minutes immediately after the half time break, presumably with coach Iain Berthinussen’s warm words of advice ringing in their ears.
The first try went to Kerr Gossman despite Campbell’s pass coming a little too early, leaving the winger with a couple of men to beat, which he did with some aplomb. Two minutes later, Jamie Sole went over in the opposite corner after Jed failed to deal with winger Harvey Cameron-Barr’s kick ahead. Suddenly Accies had edged into a 26-14 lead they never looked like giving up.
Jed huffed and puffed, eeking out the odd half chance, not least with the last move of the match, but lacking the cutting edge in the backs or the muscle up front to convert pressure into points.
Almost inevitably, Accies eventually broke out of their torpor and their own half to score their fifth of the afternoon around the 70 minute mark. Running back a Jed clearance kick, fly-half Vincent Hart swapped passes with Cameron-Barr before delivering the coup de grace himself.
And there was still time for an old style, bar-room brawl and a red card that will be hotly contested. The officials seemed determined to send someone off for throwing a punch but whether they fingered the right man is another matter?
The game finished with a spirited Jed attack that only ended with the ball held up over the Accies’ line …another contentious call from the man in the middle.
“It is our complacency that will stop us from getting to the place that we could get to if we are willing to work hard enough,” said a rueful Berthinussen, who admitted his side were lucky to be level at half time.
“We want to play [expansive] rugby but you have to allow yourself the chance to play rugby and at times we played too much. It was blowing a gale and we were chucking it around in the first half. We get trapped in this mind-set where we have to play Harlem Globetrotters rugby!
“Sure we want to do that at times but if we want to go places and improve on last season, better teams are not going to allow us to come back in the second half like we did in the last two games.”
Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; H Cameron-Barr, M Wallace, N Armstrong, K Gossman; V Hart, B Grainger; C Imre, C Black, G Ratcliff, E McVie, J Mills, J Sole, M Walker, R Campbell. Substitutes: C Lacour, F McAslan, T Drennan, M Love, F Lindsay.
Jed-Forest: L Walker; M Cullen, R Marshall, O Cranston, R Shirra-Gibb; J Mcgough, A Bambrick; G Paxton, F Scott, P Ferreira, G Law, C Skeldon (Capt), E Lauder, B Roff, G Young. Substitutes: J Hynd, J Story, B McNeill, R Ferreira, L Elder.
Referee: Ciaran Stark.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Imre, Campbell, Gossman, Sole, Hart; Cons: Appleson 3.
Jed-Forest: Tries: Ferreira, Cullen; Con: Walker 2.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 7-12; 7-14; 12-14; 14-14 (h-t) 19-14; 24-14; 26-14; 31-14.
Man-of-the-Match: Ben Appleson used the wind well in the first half to help Accies dominate territory, Josh Sole and Euan McVie both carried hard and Ruariri Campbell was his usual influencial self. Jed full-back Lewis Walker was busy but visiting scrum-half caught the eye throughout, with and without the ball, so the award goes to Aidan Bambrick.
Talking point: The game was well inside the final 10 minutes with the result no longer in doubt when an old fashioned stramash broke out on the far side of the field. The last two up were Accies hooker Callum Black and Jed flanker Blake Roff only for the referee, after consulting with his touchie, to flash red at Jed’s reserve hooker John Story, who protested his innocence all the way to the sheds.