Scottish Cup: Edinburgh Accies book final spot with win over Marr

A length of the park try from winger Gavin Welsh swings semi-final decisively in home team's favour

Gavin Welsh touches down for Edinburgh Accies against Marr after a lung-bursting, length-of-the-park sprint to the try-line. Image: John Wright
Gavin Welsh touches down for Edinburgh Accies against Marr after a lung-bursting, length-of-the-park sprint to the try-line. Image: John Wright

Edinburgh Accies 30

Marr 21

DAVID BARNES @ Raeburn Place

A LENGTH of the park interception try scored midway through the second half by Accies winger Gavin Welsh was the decisive moment in this match. The hosts scored again straight from the restart, going in almost the blink of an eye from 14-13 down and giving away penalties like they were going out of fashion, to 13 points up and bossing the match.

The reward for this comprehensive and well-deserved victory is a Scottish Cup Final appearance at Silver Saturday next Saturday night, with an opportunity to knock Hawick off their perch. The smart money will be on the Borderers keeping on track to complete a double-double in their 150th season, but Accies head coach Iain Berthinussen says his charges are in the mood for another upset.

“I’m delighted, especially with the league season we’ve had because finishing seventh is not great,” he reflected after this game. “I’m just really pleased with the application from the boys over the last six weeks, with a lot of them playing district but coming back and showing real desire to keep going.


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“They are all just really keen to have one more game, and they keep saying that every week. It will be a tough task against Hawick, but it’s nice to go to the national stadium as underdogs. It’s probably like today because Marr finished six places higher than us in the league, but we knew internally that if we got things right we could really take it to them.

“Hawick are clearly the best team in the country at this level right now, they’ve got huge resources at their disposal, but we’ll go there and give it a shot on the big pitch.”

Reflecting on the win over Marr, Berthinussen added: “I think half-time came at the right time. We’d gone six or seven penalties on the bounce, picked up a yellow-card and were really struggling, so that gave us a chance to pick ourselves up a bit

“We started the second half okay, but then went four penalties on the bounce and got another yellow-card, so Welshy’s try was a bit of a game-changer. If he doesn’t read that defensively then they were scoring and we were in for a tough last half hour, but the boys all got a lift from that and I’m really pleased with how we turned the screw.”

Accies fired out the blocks (against a Marr side missing a handful of leading players who were all at full-back Greg Montgomery‘s wedding) to grab a third minute lead, with an impressive 16 phase passage of quick and accurate play, featuring two barnstorming runs from Jamie Sole, eventually giving Max Wallace a sniff at the line on the left, and he didn’t need a second invitation to claim five points with an unconverted try.

Sole was soon on the rampage again, breaking from deep inside his own 22 off a No 8 pick-up and carrying over halfway, launching a move which eventually reached Marr’s 22 – with another old warhorse in Tom Drennan also adding some momentum with ball in hand – before a knock-on gave the visitors some respite.

Marr had a chance to narrow the gap to just two points on 15 minutes but Calum Inglis shanked his effort from 20-yards out and just to the left of the posts.

Instead, Accies stand-off Ben Appleson, who had been off target with that earlier touchline conversion, was bang on target with his shot from in front of the posts following a high tackle on 24 minutes,  stretching the home lead to 8-0.

The momentum shifted when a sustained onslaught on the Accies line yielded a series of penalties for Marr, and a team yellow-card for home prop Cole Imrie, before Ben Johnston bulldozed over from close range off a tap, and Inglis nailed the extras.

With their tails up and a man advantage, Marr pushed to finish the half in front, and a powerful surge saw Brandon Sweet get get over the line but he was prevented  from getting the ball down by some last-gasp Accies defence, and there was a hold-up before the game resumed because Alex Apthrope had clashed heads with Robbie Chalmers during the build-up and needed treatment on the pitch before being replaced.

Unperturbed by the loss of their big-hitting blindside, Marr scored immediately after the restart, with Ali Rogers powering over and Inglis again converting.

 

 

Appleson had a chance to narrow the deficit to just three points with a holding-on penalty in the first minute of the second half but he pulled his effort to the right of the posts, and Marr were quickly back onto the front foot, with another series of penalties inside the Accies 22 leading to another yellow-card, this time against Chalmers for not rolling away.

On this occasion, being a man down seemed to galvanise Accies, who first defended their line well then marched the length of the pitch, forcing a series of penalties of their own, leading to Marr’s Murray Blair being sent for 10 minutes in the cooler, and the try which brought it back to a one-point game arrived when a long passage of play eventually created another opportunity for Wallace to dive over in the corner.

Then came the killer blow. With Marr bombarding the Accies line, and perhaps thinking they were playing  penalty advantage, they tried to force a pass on the left, whichWelsh picked off and then set off on a 100-metre dash  to score under the posts.

Appleson converted, and Accies burst straight back upfield from the restart through a Ross Dunbar carry, and a few slick phases later they were touching down under the posts again, with Appleson finishing off this time nd adding the easy conversion himself.

It looked like a late scrum penalty which was turned into three points by Appleson would complete the scoring, but Marr were determined to fight to the end, with winger Scott Bickerstaff nipping over for a late try which he converted himself.

“A few of the guys hadn’t played rugby for a few weeks and you could see that, so we did well to fight well to the end to get that late score, but I think Accies deserved it more than we did because they took their chances well and we didn’t,” accepted Marr assistant coach Stephen Adair. 

“The really frustrating thing for me is the lack of of refereeing consistency,” he added. “There was three high tackles in the first half, one of our guys nearly gets his nose taken off, and it’s not been seen. We’re asking for players to be consistent, so we just want to see the same from the refereeing.”

Adair resisted the temptation to dwell on the players who were missing as an excuse for this result. “We managed to get a few of our younger guys and guys who have done a great job for our 2nd XV this season on the park, so that was nice to see because they are the future of this club,” he said.

 

Teams –

Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers (C Allan 63); G Welsh (F MacNeill. 74), R Kent, N Armstrong ©, M Wallace; B Appleson, P Ritchie (R Cadzow 59); C Imrie (C Crookshanks 74), C Davies (F McAslan 59), C Crookshanks (R Dunbar 59), J Mills, S Whittaker (C Cain 64), T Drennan (K Slingsby 64), A Wood, J Sole.

Marr: J Jacobson (G Beckwith 64); J Scott, G Paxton (A Ramage 64), C Bickerstaff ©, S Bickerstaff; C Inglis, G Baird; B Sweet (B Wallace  75), C McMillan, A Rogers, F Grant (C Steele 71), C Young, A Apthorpe (M Blair 39), C Smith (K McCulloch 71), B Johnston.

Referee: Fergus Hollins

 

Scorers –

Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Wallace 2, Welsh, Appleson; Con: Appleson; Pen: Appleson 2.

Marr: Tries: Johnston, Rogers, S Bickertsaff; Con: Inglis 2, S Bickerstaff.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 5-0; 8-0; 8-5; 8-7; 8-12; 8-14 (h-t) 13-14; 18-14; 20-14; 25-14; 27-14; 30-14; 30-19; 30-21.

 

Yellow cards –

Edinburgh Accies: Imries (32 mins), Chalmers (49 mins).

Marr: Blair (53 mins)

 

Player-of-the-Match: Plenty of string performance from the home side, including the barnstorming Jamie Sole, especially in the first half, the punchy centre combination of Neil Armstrong and Robbie Kent, and the dead-eye finishing on the left of Max Wallace. But this game swung on that shrewd defensive read and magnificent length of the park sprint from Gavin Welsh.

Talking point: Not many outside the confines of Raeburn Place will give Accies a snowball’s chance in hell against Hawick next weekend, but they are now reaping the benefits of a tough season when they have had to grow their squad to cope with a deluge of injuries. Most – if not quite all –of their key men are back, they have several game-changers in the backline and up-front, and they have nothing to lose.

Also, a word for Marr centre and captain Conor Bickerstaff, who has now stepped away from playing, bringing the curtain down on a terrific career.


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About David Barnes 3957 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

6 Comments

  1. Well done Edinburgh Accies and good luck against Hawick.
    Unfortunate for Marr to be missing a lot of key players this week.

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    • Well done Accies .
      Great result.
      You never Know ….next week ?
      Ps .
      Never seen or heard Mr Angry Gala 2

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