Edinburgh Accies 16
ALAN LORIMER @ Mansfield Park
HAWICK remain top of the Premiership after achieving a bonus point victory over an Edinburgh Accies side that could have and should have eked more out of this game but who over the piece could not match the Greens’ ability to snap up scoring chances.
Although there was only a ten points gap at the end of the match, the telling statistic was Hawick’s 4-1 try advantage which gave the Greens five championship points to increase their chances of a home semi-final come the play-offs, assuming of course there is not a run of disasters in the closing stages of the Premiership.
Just as satisfying as the win was the chance to look to the future in terms of personnel, as Hawick’s coach, Matty Douglas, explained. “I was very pleased that we were able to play Marcus Brogan and allow Eli Hamilton to make his debut. It’s important that we build our squad,” he said.
As to the match, Douglas was satisfied with the outcome. He said: “First and foremost it was another five pointer. Accies were in fourth position coming into this match so it was another big game for us. We took our opportunities – we didn’t get a lot – but when we did get going we looked good.
“I’m happier with our discipline this week but we did get a yellow card. We had to front up again. Accies had their chances but we defended well. I’ve no gripes. If I’m honest, we don’t want to be playing our best rugby at this stage of the season. We want to be building and each week I think we’re getting better and better,” Douglas added.
For Accies the memory of their heavy defeat last season at Mansfield was perhaps an incentive to perform well. And in the event, the Raeburn Place side did put on a strong display, with powerful scrummaging that put even the Hawick pack under pressure, and when they did move the ball accurately, disappointingly only on one occasion, they reaped points. But too often Accies were inaccurate in their execution and in the end they had to look to stand-off Ben Appleson for the bulk of their points.
Appleson, who has slotted in very well to the vacancy at ten for ACL victim, Jamie Loomes, showed his accuracy with the boot kicking three penalty goals and one conversion.
Accies coach, Iain Berthinussen, was not downhearted by his side’s performance, saying: “The effort levels today were huge, far greater than in our last two games. We were in the game at Mansfield Park against the champions but fundamentally our errors were costly. Our scrum was fantastic and we got some good payback from that. But, ultimately, when we did put them under pressure we let them off the hook.”
The visitors could hardly have envisaged a more disastrous start to the game, their attempted clearance off the kick-off being charged down, resulting in Hawick attacking from a line-out with an initial maul and then quick release of the ball that gave the backs an early chance to run a practised move, resulting in Andrew Mitchell dashing in for the first score and Kirk Ford adding the simple conversion points.
Accies replied with an Appleson penalty goal, which seemed to give the visitors confidence. Scrum-half Patrick Ritchie was inches short after a short sprint to the line but when Accies moved the ball effectively, winger Callum Ramm had just enough room to squeeze in at the corner, Appleson’s touchline conversion giving the Raeburn Place men a 10-7 advantage.
The lead was soon wiped out when Hawick finished good initial work by Ford and a snipe from scrum-half Hector Patterson by moving the ball wide for Jae Linton to crash over in the corner. Ford showing he could emulate Appleson by slotting the touchline conversion for a 14-10 lead.
Then, with half time approaching, Hawick again worked a move from a line-out, driving the maul effectively and then softening the Accies defence with pick-and-drive play before the ball was released to the backs. This time Charlie Welsh was the beneficiary of quick-ball, allowing the centre/wing to pick his way through the remnants of the visitors’ defence for a try under the posts, leaving Ford with little difficulty in putting over his third conversion.
Accies looked more positive at the beginning of the second half and were rewarded with a second penalty goal by Appleson. But from the restart, Robbie Chalmers fluffed his clearance kick giving Hawick immediate possession and the chance to attack, and the chance for Mitchell to show both power and acceleration as he surged over for his second and Hawick’s fourth try to claim the bonus point.
Thereafter, with the job effectively completed for Hawick, the game fizzled out somewhat, with the only further points being a late penalty goal from the boot of Appleson, not enough, however, to earn the visitors what would have been a deserved bonus point.
Hawick: K Ford; C Welsh, A Mitchell, L Armstrong, R McKean; K Brunton, H Patterson; S Muir©, R Anderson, N Little, D Redpath, C Sutherland, J Linton, C Renwick, S Graham. Subs: M Brogan, T Hope, F Wilson, D Lightfoot, E Hamilton.
Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; C Ramm; N Armstrong©, G Woods, F MacNeill; B Appleson, P Ritchie; R Dunbar, F McAslan, C Crookshanks, C Bain, S Whittaker, G Napier, A Inwood, J Sole. Subs: G Hall, A Hain, T Thompson, B Grainger, F Lindsay.
Referee: Ciaran Stark
Hawick: Tries: Mitchell 2, Linton, Welsh; Cons: Ford 3.
Edinburgh Accies: Try: Ramm; Con: Appleson; Pens: Appleson 3.
Scoring Sequence (Hawick first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-3; 7-8; 7-10; 12-10; 14-10; 19-10; 21-10 (h-t) 21-13; 26-13; 26-16.
Yellow cards –
Hawick: Renwick (52 mins)
Edinburgh Accies: Inwood (34 mins)
Man-of-the-Match: Give him a sniff at the line and he’s through. Andrew Mitchell is playing so much better this season, both in defence and on the ball, and after a two try haul deservedly wins the MOTM accolade.
Talking point: Hawick claimed another five points in the Premiership race and with five rounds remaining look odds on to book a home semi-final come the play-offs. But as Matty Douglas commented, it was good to play several younger players with an eye to the future. The Hawick system, it seems, is still working. As for Accies, their hopes of a play-off place are still alive. And with several players returning and a home game next Saturday the Raeburn Place men will surely want to build on a display against Hawick, that had many positives.