Scottish Cup: Edinburgh Accies see off Heriot’s Blues to book last four showdown against Marr

Clinical hosts will face Marr back at Raeburn Place in next weekend's semi-final

Jamie Sole on the charge for Edinburgh Accies versus Heriot's Blues. Image: Jonathan Cruickshank
Jamie Sole on the charge for Edinburgh Accies versus Heriot's Blues. Image: Jonathan Cruickshank

Edinburgh Accies 19

Heriot’s Blues 10

LEWIS STUART @ Raeburn Place

IT was a scrappy affair but Edinburgh Accies earned themselves a home Scottish Cup semi-final against Marr as they came from behind to earn a comfortable enough win over city rivals Heriot’s Bues.

Unsurprisingly, with so little club rugby played recently, neither side was particularly fluent with both struggling for cohesion in weather conditions that swung wildly between gale-strength gusts of wind and monsoon rain to balmy spring sunshine with hardly any breeze to worry about.

Afterwards, Iain Berthinussen, the Accies head coach, admitted his side had probably got the better of the weather but put more emphasis on his side’s greater representation in the Inter-District Championship which meant fewer of his players were ring rusty in what was almost a one-off, out-of-season match.


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“Fair play play to Heriot’s, we were four weeks without a game together but they were eight and I think that showed,” he pointed out. “They still really took it to us. We knew it’d be a physical encounter and, if we’re honest, the conditions probably favoured us, just as did the hardness of having 11 guys in our squad that played in the Inter-Districts over the last few weeks.

“In the first half we probably had the ball for about three minutes and they were causing us a lot of problems but we did score two tries. We fixed a few things at half time and I did say to the players that if we could get another score ahead, we could control things and we did just that.

“I’m just delighted that we at least have another week of the season to go with a big weekend against Marr, who have usually done pretty well against us but who we did beat earlier this season.”

For his opposite number, Phil Smith, the season is over with the frustration being that after shrugging off the long break to start strongly, his players fell away as the conditions worsened and the toil of a muddy pitch took its toll.

“There were moments when we were really good and moments when we looked like a team that has not played for two months,” he reflected. “Our error count was high, we were a bit ring rusty. It is disappointing for the players because they have stayed together for two months to get to this game and then it is all over.

“It was like starting the season all over again but if it had been the start of the season we would have had a friendly to warm-up because health and safety would come into it rather than just get thrown into a competitive match. It would be nice if we could just roll the season together so that we can take momentum from other competitions into games like this.”

Having said which, there was no sign at all of that rustiness in the Heriot’s side at the start as they hammered their way upfield. Fly-half Luke Townsend spotted a gap on the right after the forwards had taken them to the line and an inside ball put centre Kenta Kutsuna over for the score.

Graham Wilson converted and added a penalty a few minutes later to ease his side into a two score lead at the end of the first quarter when the monsoon rain arrived and seemed to turn the momentum of the game.

As conditions worsened, Accies blossomed and only a misfiring line-out got in their way as they took control of the match.

Ben Appleson, who controlled things neatly from fly-half, made the most of the opportunity after Jamie Sole set things up with a barnstorming charge through the middle. As the ball was recycled, the fly-half linked with Patrick Ritchie, the scrum-half, to set up a siege on the visitors’ line which ended when prop Cole Imrie burrowed under a mound of players to get the try.

Again, it was the Accies forwards who set things up as Struan Whittaker sucked in the defence on another strong run before releasing the backs where Robbie Kent found a gap to sprint within range of the line and put wing Gavin Welsh in for the score. With Apppleson converting, Accies were ahead and never to go behind again.

 

 

The second half was more of a war of attrition with both sides struggling to handle the slippery ball while also finding it hard to play for position in a blustery wind that made kicking something of a lottery.

The decisive action came when Appleson created space for Robbie Chalmers to career upfield with Guy Napier in support to take play to within inches of the Heriot’s line. The forwards took over but were held short until scrum half Ritchie spotted space at the side of a ruck and nipped over. Again Appleson converted, meaning Heriot’s needed two scores to catch them.

Their Edinburgh rivals gave it a good shot but got nowhere against an ironclad defence and the nearest to a score came when Imrie, the Accies prop, broke from his own 22 on a 50 metre charge. If he had spotted the speedsters haring up in support, nothing could have stopped the try, but when he turned to his fellow forwards, Heriot’s managed to scramble back and cover.

Heriot’s did dominate the final minutes but got nowhere and Accies played out the last period without too many alarms, holding out a couple of line-out mauls to see off the final visiting threat.

They know they are probably going to have to step up a level to tackle Marr, but after 80 tough minutes of rugby under their belt, at least they have dusted all the cobwebs and rust away.

 

Teams – 

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

Heriot’s Blues: P Christie; H Hitchens, R Jones, K Kutsuna, C Meager; L Townsend, G Wilson; A Munro, R Jackson, S Cessford, P Spence, M Keough, J Hill, I Hill, A Johnston©. Subs: F Thomas, B Dineen, J Lascelles, C Bell, E Moore, A Hunter, O Quinn.

Referee: D Young

 

Scorers – 

Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Imrie, Welsh, Ritchie; Cons: Appleson 2.

Heriot’s Blues: Kutsuna; Con: Wilson; Pen: Wilson.

Scoring sequence(Edinburgh Accies first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-10; 5-10; 10-1o; 12-10 (h-t) 17-10; 19-10.

 

Player-of-the-Match: Plenty of Accies candidates with back-row men Guy Napier and Jamie Sole leading the way but when it mattered fly-half Ben Appleson steered the team calmly as they came from behind to dominate the match that that earns him the award.

Talking point: Somebody at Murrayfield has to take a serious look at the season structure to make sure this sort of game, doesn’t happen again with both teams coming straight into it off extended breaks that made it like starting the season all over again.


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About Lewis Stuart 73 Articles
Lewis has been writing about rugby for almost 40 years, the last 18 as a freelance based in Scotland bringing his wealth fo experience to just about every publication in the country. These days you can hear him as well by tuning in to his Wednesday night show on Rocksport Radio.

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