Glasgow Hawks 26
Edinburgh Accies 32
STEPHEN BRUNSDON @ Balgray
EDINBURGH ACCIES held on to secure a vital bonus point Premiership victory against a resurgent Glasgow Hawks side at Balgray in a veritable game of two halves. The visitors dominated the opening 40 minutes but were under the cosh for the bulk of the second period, as Hawks roared back into life. But Accies’ class showed as they bagged a late score to make it three from four this season.
“We ground out the win well after going in 19-0 at the break but to be honest we didn’t play that well today,” said Accies coach Iain Bertinussen. “We made the most of our chances in the second half and that was the difference.”
Hawks head coach Andy Hill had bemoaned a slow start in his side’s frustrating defeat to Kelso last weekend and he was doubtless left with similar feelings during the opening quarter of an hour, which handed Accies a pair of tries and the early ascendency.
Both teams endeavoured to play an expansive game, but Accies were by far the more accurate in their execution, with fly-half Jamie Loomes again running the show efficiently.
Accies opened the scoring courtesy of Finlay MacNeil after just four minutes, the winger a happy recipient of a lovely break from centre Max Wallace. And it wasn’t long before Accies got their second score, achieved with a man down as back-rower Jamie Sole was yellow carded following a dangerous tip-tackle.
The capital side were effective on the front foot and pushed Hawks deep into their own half, who had to defend multiple phases of forward drives from close range before eventually straying offside. Despite a pair of brave efforts to hold up Accies players over the line, they were undone by a quick tap penalty from scrum-half Patrick Ritchie who touched down in the corner.
Loomes missed the conversion, making it 12-0 to the visitors but the signs were clear for Hawks. Any mistakes would be punished.
The home side had plenty of chances in the first half, but inaccuracies in both attack and set-piece left them frustrated. That frustration turned to exasperation as a loose ball was snatched upon by MacNeil, who ran nearly the length, only for a knock-on to spare Hawks’ blushes.
However, Accies got the better of the kicking game and scored their third try of the match before half-time, with flanker Tom Drennan crossing after team-mate Sole picked up a MacNeil chip.
Hawks needed to score first after the break, and they duly did courtesy of second-rower Andrew Syme. From a scrum, JP Thompson picked up and strode clear of Accies defenders to get to within metres of the line as the visiting defence scrambled. Syme then collected a simple pass from scrum-half James Imrie, with Gav Cruickshanks converting.
Hawks’ second half performance was in stark contrast to the first and the home side got their second score just after the 50-minute with replacement Torquil MacLeod touching down on his debut. Cruickshanks converted again to make it a five-point game, before Loomes pushed Accies’ clear again with a penalty soon after.
Hawks wouldn’t be deterred, and proof of their fightback showed when they strolled straight back into Accies’ half and scored their third try through full-back James Couper after Syme got close in the previous phase. Cruickshanks’ conversion suddenly made it a one-point affair inside the final quarter.
Amid all the drama, the question of a bonus point had barely entered the discussion. Accies had simply focused on extending their lead once more. But, in profiting from a Hawks kick out on the full, second-rower Cameron Bain crossed for the fourth try.
Hawks piled on the pressure entering the closing stages, just like Accies had done at the end of the first half. Scrum dominance helped the hosts get over the line again, via Paul Cairncross, but Cruickshanks was off target with the conversion.
Accies went from clinging onto their lead to securing their victory when replacement Alistair Wood burrowed over following a bold decision to kick to touch.
“The game management at the end is something we probably learned from the match against Heriot’s,” reflected Bertinussen. “In the first half, we had eight entries and only converted three, while in the second half, we had two and converted two.”
For Hill, another defeat perhaps didn’t show the true sign of progress of his side. “Key turnovers in their 22 got them into the game and gave them momentum, before we managed to get ourselves back into the game in the second half, but we never led so we didn’t really deserve to win today,” he concluded.
Glasgow Hawks: J Couper; R Speers, S Graham, J Blair, J McConkey; G Cruickshanks, J Imrie; M Downer, P Cairncross©, M Goodwin, M Crumlish, A Syme, L Stewart, JP Thomson, T Wright. Subs: A Burgess, D Irvine, S Halafihi, H Lapslie, T MacLeod.
Edinburgh Accies: S Wells; R Lile, M Wallace, G Woods, F MacNeill; J Loomes©, P Ritchie; C Imrie, F McAslan, C Crookshanks, C Bain, S Whittaker, T Drennan, K Slingsby, J Sole. Subs: G Hall, R Dunbar, A Wood, E McAra, R Walsh.
Referee: F Brown
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Syme, MacLeod, Couper, Cairncross; Cons: Cruickshanks 3.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: MacNeil, Ritchie, Drennan, Bain, Wood; Cons: Loomes 2; Pens: Loomes.
Scoring Sequence (Glasgow Hawks first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-17; 0-19 (h-t) 5-19; 7-19; 12-19; 14-19; 14-22; 19-22; 21-22; 21-27; 26-27; 26-32.
Yellow Cards –
Glasgow Hawks: Wright
Edinburgh Accies: Sole
Man-of-the-Match: It’s quite rare that the man-of-the-match comes from the losing side, but such was the effort of Hawks’ Andrew Syme that it was easy to ignore the scoreboard on this occasion. A solitary try to his name was almost an injustice as he got close a second time, but his work-rate around the park on a day where forwards played a key part was excellent.
Talking point: It was a match where fine margins played a crucial role in the outcome and Hawks will have felt the victory was within their reach. Accies had the better first half and their three tries gave Hawks a mountain to climb, which they very nearly did. In the end, Accies’ experience in closing out proved key, with Bain’s late effort proof enough.