Edinburgh Accies 34
IAIN HAY @ Braidholm
A LAST gasp score by the home side’s Luke McCutcheon was not quite enough to salvage any points as Accies got over their blip last week at home to Heriot’s to keep the pressure on Hawick in today’s early kick-off in Glasgow’s southside.
Accies fully deserved their five points, and should probably have had the game out of sight by half-time, but on two occasions – and then there was another in the second period – they dropped the ball over the line, in conditions which went from “positively balmy to pishing it down”, as Iain Berthuissen succinctly put it, within minutes of kick-off.
“First half we didn’t hit the ground running, we were pretty passive in what we were doing, and didn’t kick very well,” said GHA’s head coach Trevor Carmichael. “We were probably quite lucky in that first half with Accies missing a couple of chances knocking-on over the line, so going in with that scoreboard was fortunate at that point, but we just didn’t fire a shot at any time.
“When we’d get into the 22 we’d have control sometimes, but then we’d make a silly mistake or a silly decision, so second half was all about controlling the game a bit more and having more front-foot ball, which we did but there was critical points of our game that weren’t accurate enough. We kicked it down their throats too much, our counter-attack defence was lacking and not connected enough. They [Accies] are a good side but I didn’t see anything we shouldn’t have been able to cope with, but we push on and look forward to Heriot’s.”
Accies took next to no time in opening the scoring, Robbie Kent waltzing through some lacklustre tackling in midfield to set Accies on their way, and Euan McVie finished off from close range within a minute of kick-off.
The tinkling of rain on the Braidholm stand’s tin roof grew into a clatter, and both sides struggled to hold on to the ball. At one stage, Dario Ewing produced a great chop tackle on Max Wallace in the Accies 22, and seconds later GHA winger Fergus Johnston spilled as he tried to slice through the middle of the Accies line.
More was to come, and on another day could have proven costly. Former Glasgow Hawk Kerr Gossman produced a typically bullish charge down the right flank for Accies, but having broken through two challenges the ball slipped from his grasp with the line within smelling distance. He tried to nudge ahead with his foot, but the ball beat him to the dead goal-line.
Two Vincent Hart penalties sandwiched another spill over the line, this time it was earlier scorer McVie who was unable to ground, but after another weaving run from Kent had splintered the GHA defence, Hart was there with the assist for Ruairi Campbell to cross over on the right.
GHA got themselves on the scoreboard when effectively down to 14 men, having to play around the stricken Adam Kerr and the medic attending him, in both directions, before Johnston squeezed over in the corner.
Accies were handed a golden opportunity to extend their lead with the sheds calling, only to see the kick to touch go dead, and it was GHA who ended the half on a Halloween-relevant note, with Chris Hyde knocking over an absolutely monstrous penalty from just short of GHA’s own 10 metre line, bringing the home side within two scores at 8-20.
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Where GHA were culpable of kicking down Accies’ throat, the Edinburgh side had the trusty left boots of Hart and Ben Appleson, and the former’s excellent 50-22 kick set up an early second half try from Clement Lacour which Hart brilliantly converted from the touchline.
Although wet, there was barely a drop of wind but both sides, especially GHA struggled on their line-out.
An Accies’ overthrow near their own 22 was taken by Archie Falconer who made decent inroads, the forwards proceeded to pick and go, and Falconer’s front-row partner Aaron Pacha was over for his first try for the club.
GHA’s tails went further when they won a penalty for offside well within Hyde’s range – it was in the Accies half – but they decided to go for the corner.
The line-out was a bit of a shambles, however they did manage to win another penalty right in front of the posts, so decided to take the three on offer with enough time remaining to get the points required to complete the most unlikely of turnarounds.
Despite a couple of big defensive plays which stopped Accies as they looked to close the game off – Pacha winning a turnover penalty and Walker Graham thumping McVie to cause a knock-on – the second placed side were not to be denied.
An excellent penalty touch finder from Appleson saw them set up the maul, and playing with penalty advantage, they worked the ball left where Appleson was lurking to dive over for the bonus point clincher.
There was still time for Lewis Wells to become the third Accies player to lose possession in the act of scoring, and Appleson will be forgiven for attempting a cheeky chip over the top in his own 22, which led to the consolation score for McCutcheon.
“After last week [26-29 home defeat to Heriot’s] it was really important we got back to winning ways,” said Berthinussen. “We knew how tough it would be and that GHA would keep coming back at us, so we just needed to keep that distance of a couple of scores, so I’m delighted with the win.
“I think any team can beat any team in this league, and we’ll see that more and more as players are returning to clubs, but for us, it’s about us. I know it’s a bit of a cliché but we just need to concentrate on our game and not get caught up in what other teams are doing.
“If we can impose our game on teams, we’re going to be in pretty good shape come February-March. There’s four or five guys who played for our 2nd XV last week who stepped up this week, and that was based on how they performed. Our 2nds are 7 from 7 now, so it’s putting pressure on guys to perform, and that’s what we want.”
GHA: L Bardelli; F Johnston, C Hyde, K Dixon, A Caqusau; G Drummond, G Baird; A Pacha, A Falconer, M Fox, A Kerr, S Callaghan, W Graham, D Ewing©, L McCutcheon. Subs: D Sutton, F Faulds, A Flynn, C King, C Stephen.
Edinburgh Accies: V Hart; K Gossman, R Kent, M Wallace, L Wells; B Appleson, B Afshar; C Imrie, F McAslan, C Lacour, E McVie, R Thompson ©, T Drennan, J Sole, R Campbell. Subs: G Ratcliff, C Black, A Wood, B Grainger, R Walsh
Referee: David Young
GHA: Tries: Johnston, Pacha, McCutcheon; Cons: Hyde 2; Pens: Hyde 2.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: McVie, Campbell, Lacour, Appleson; Cons: Hart 4; Pens: Hart 2.
Scoring Sequence (GHA first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-10; 0-13; 0-18; 0-20; 5-20; 8-20 (h-t) 8-25; 8-27; 13-25; 15-27; 18-27; 18-32; 18-34; 23-34; 25-34.
Player-of-the-Match: Both outside centres performed very well, but Vincent Hart kicked exceptionally from hand and tee which created opportunities and kept the scoreboard ticking over
Talking Point: Somebody will need to get the record books out to see if Hyde’s was the longest penalty scored in Premiership history because it was huge. Also, best wishes to Cole Imrie and well played the Edinburgh Accies medical staff, who withdrew the loosehead from the field instantly when he suffered a head injury.