Edinburgh Accies 24
IAIN MORRISON @ Raeburn Place
THIS was an odd encounter with Accies coming away with the victory and the all important bonus point but somehow Selkirk may be the happier of the two teams after a gusty performance in defeat that saw them boss long periods of the game.
With Hawks losing at home to GHA, Accies are now guaranteed a spot in the Premiership play-off. And with three games to play, they could even jump ahead of Marr – six points in front – into a home draw,so next weekend’s visit of the Fullarton men is massive, but they will need to be better than this.
“I thought we deserved a losing bonus point,” said Selkirk head coach Scott Wight after the match. “But we didn’t have a functioning set-piece this afternoon, we lost three second half line-outs in the opposition 22, so we couldn’t apply any pressure.
“We had plenty of possession and territory in the game but we lacked a little creativity with the ball in hand and didn’t really test them (Accies) as we should.”
Accies were poor, ill-disciplined and ragged in the opening half. They conceded an eye watering 10 penalties inside the opening 30 minutes, usually, but not exclusively, at the breakdown where they were roasted by the commitment of the visitors and a referee who is always quick on that particular draw.
On 24 minutes, Accies conceded for holding on. On 25 minutes they conceded for sealing off. You name a law and Accies broke it. If Selkirk’s line-out had been functioning a little better – the visitors lost three throws in the opening quarter of this game and another three after the break – the home side might have paid a higher price for their lack of discipline.
In No 8 Ewan McDougall the Borders side had a willing ball-carrier and he was matched in that by his opposite number Ruairi Campbell. Selkirk full-back Ryan Cottrell looks like a great prospect even if he lost one ball under his own posts running from deep. Fly-half Scott Clark fizzes shots across his midfield inviting his centres to run onto the ball and a little more composure/patience in attack might have seen them stressing Accies defense.
The scrums were another oddity in that Accies won an early penalty, then Selkirk bossed the tight exchange when they changed their props after half an hour with Joe Anderson getting the plaudits from Selkirk’s bench, but Accies re-asserted their authority in the second half when they milked scrum penalties more than once to get out of jail (apart from one which went Selkirk’s way much to the dismay of the Accies faithful).
The first half quicky fell into a pattern. Accies would play their full court game inside Selkirk’s half of the field but lose the ball in contact or, more likely, concede yet another breakdown penalty.
Then Selkirk would kick for touch and hammer away at the Acciers defence until someone conceded a penalty which the visitors kicked at posts. The visitors scored in increments of threes throughout the opening 30 minutes; the opening two kicks going to Clark while centre Callum Anderson took on a longer range effort that crept over the bar by such a slender margin that even the touchie seemed unsure whether to award the three or not.
In fact the visitors might have been 12-0 ahead had they not inexplicably opted to put another penalty into the corner.
Accies had played so badly to date that some sort of reaction was surely in the offing and it came, with precision timing, just before the half time break, with two tries in as many minutes.
The first went to lock Cameron Bain directly from a five-yard line-out when the Accies big men finally flexed their muscles and made it stick at the umpteenth time of asking. Jamie Loomes added the extras and the home crowd had barely finished celebrating before their team presented them with another try, London busses and all that.
Home hooker Callum Black made good ground up the left touchline and looked like he might score before being dragged down just short of the line. When Accies moved the ball wide to the right, the leggy winger Hamish Janes finished off a score that was made by the dancing feet of centre Robbie Kent.
Having looked second best for much of the half Accies had turned things turtle in the space of just 120 seconds to go into the half time break with a slender 12-9 lead and they never looked back.
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Much of the third quarter was played deep inside the Selkirk half as Accies bossed proceedings with an authority that was strangely absent for that opening half hour.
After dominating proceedings Accies extended their lead to 19-9 after Jamie Sole broke a poor tackle to score under the sticks and Loomes couldn’t miss from point blank range.
It turned out to be a rather disappointing and disjointed second half in which both sides struggled to unlock their doughty opposition defence. Visiting prop Anderson’s world started turning in slow motion when the big fella intercepted with nothing between him and the Accies line but the 30-yard sprint proved too much for a man not noted for his aerodynamics.
Selkirk kept trying but lacked the killer touch while Accies, to their credit, never abandoned hope of that fourth try bonus point and it finally arrived, with the very last play of the game, when centre Neil Armstrong squeezed over in the right hand corner.
“I think we displayed a lot of heart and desire to come away with that bonus point score late in the day,” said assistant coach Chris Martin. “We have plenty of work to do on our performance and our discipline was atrocious in that opening half hour. The two scores just before the half-time break showed what we are capable of.
“Credit to Selkirk who had done their homework and made life difficult for us, attacking in the wider channels and winning penalties at the breakdown.”
Accies take all the points but they will need to up their performance if they have genuine designs on the end of season silverware.
Edinburgh Accies: V Hart; H Janes, R Kent, N Armstrong, B Appleson; J Loomes, B Grainger; C Imrie, C Black, C Lacour, C Bain, F Simpson, J Sole, M Walker, R Campbell. Subs: R Montgomery, A Winnington-Ingram, S Hegarty, J Troup, M Sinclair.
Selkirk: R Cottrell; C MacNeill, B Pickles, C Anderson, A Penman; S Clark, J Hamilton; L Pettie, J Bett, B Riddell, T Brown, A McColm, R Cook, S McClymont, E MacDougall. Subs: M Haldane, J Anderson, A Cochrane, C Young, E McVicker.
Referee: Jonny Perriam
Sequence of scoring (Edinburgh Accies first): 0-3; 0-6; 0-9; 5-9; 7-9; 12-9 (h-t) 17-9; 19-9; 24-9.
Accies: Tries: Simpson, Janes, Sole, Armstrong; Cons: Loomes 2.
Selkirk: Pens: Clark 2, Anderson.
Man-of-the-Match: There were good performances from Robbie Kent, Hamish Janes and Ruairi Campbell for the home side but the award has to go to Selkirk No8 Ewan MacDougall who got through a mountain of work on both sides of the ball.
Talking point: Accies looked sloppy and lacked urgency at times but they have persistence and it paid off with the final play of the day when they finally scored that all important bonus point try. It might not have been altogether deserved but it could prove important and they will take it and move on.