Edinburgh Accies 19
DAVID BARNES @ Myreside
A RETURN to winning ways and back into the play-off places for Watsonians, at least for the time being – although Heriot’s will have something to say about that when they play their game in hand against Boroughmuir this afternoon. But the big issue as far as head coach Stevie Lawrie is concerned is that his team must now show that they can be as clinical when they take on league leaders Ayr at Millbrae next week.
“That was a really good Accies team,” he stated. “They worked hard, they played some magic rugby and it was tight there at half-time, until we got that fourth try. So, we’re pretty happy that we played some good rugby and looked quite sharp.
“But we just had a chat with the players about next week which is going to be really important for us because we have been consistent this season – consistently poor against top four teams. It is a case of: That was good, but we’ve seen that before – what have we really got in us?
“We lost to the better team last week, it is as simple as that. The occasion, as it has thus far against all top four teams, got to us – and we’ve got to be absolutely honest with ourselves about that. We’ve got a lot of good boys – guys who work hard for each other and care about the club – so that’s great. Now I want to see us show a little bit more quality than we have so far when it really matter.”
Accies started brightly and might have taken an early lead if Richard Mill had hit the sweet spot with an optimistic drop-goal attempt in the second minute, then blindside flanker Michael Badenhorst launched a powerful rampage up the middle of the park a few moments later – but Watsonians weathered that minor storm and then struck back with a scything break up the left wing launched by full-back Josh Rowland and finished off by Rufus McLean.
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Lee Millar slotted the touchline conversion, and Watsonians were back on the attack almost straight from the restart. After a five-minute siege, the home team’s lead was doubled when McLean came off his wing and burst through the Accies centres on a diagonal run to the line. With Millar once again adding the extras.
Accies recovered, and after a period of pressure got their first score of the night when slick hands sent Cameron Gray over on the right touchline. Mill’s conversion hit the post.
Watsonians had the last word of the first half with a pretty straightforward penalty from Millar after a long period of advantage had been played to no avail for the home team, then at the start of the second period Rowland collected the ball under pressure and shrugged off his tackler before darting home from 30-yards.
Another rampage from Badenhorst took Accies back deep into Watsonians territory, from which a few phases later Jamie Sole was able to pick from the base of a ruck and stretch over. That gave the visitors the faintest sniff of a first win of the season, but it was only that, and when that old scrummaging Achilles heel showed itself once again, Millar didn’t need a second invitation to drill home the penalty to stretch the lead back out to 15 clear points.
Accies kept plugging away and they got the scrum put-0in when Badenhorst was held up over the line, and rather boldly – given their recent travails in this area – tried to put the squeeze on at the set-piece. Alas it backfired, with Watsonians soaking up the pressure before countering to win the put-in at the re-set, and from that possession they ran the length of the pitch, with McLean leading the break-out and Rowland brushing past last man Robbie Kent to score.
Badenhorst finally got his reward for an evening of tireless work with the ball in hand, bursting onto a flat ball in midfield and showing plenty of pace and power on a 25-yard rampage to the line. Another converted try would secure two bonus points for Accies and they huffed and puffed during the last five minutes but Watsonians kept them pinned back inside their own half, and in the end it was the home side who finished the scoring with DJ Innes joining in with the big boys and getting the ball down from a driven line-out.
“I think we deserved two league point out of that,” was Accies head coach Derek O’Riordan’s fairly justified analysis. “With the exception of that last score, the try-count was five-three, so it wasn’t exactly a hammering, but they were clinical when they got their chances, with two – maybe three – first phase tries, and a turnover try.
“We weren’t clinical and our game management was poor again. We’re not learning the lessons quick enough and sooner or later you can’t remain as positive as I have been for the boys over the first eight games – reality is going to have to kick-in really soon.
“The boys are battling, but when we are getting on top with our foot on their throat, we are letting teams find a way of getting back into the game. It is about putting it together for 80-minutes, and I know it is pretty difficult when you are always up against it – but we need to get there soon.”
Watsonians: J Rowland; A Guthrie, P Cunningham, D Innes, R McLean; L Millar, M Scott; G Jackson, R Graham, J Stanley, J Hodgson, C Borthwick, G Nelson, J Miller, M Fedo. Subs: F Renwick, F Hobbis, C McKill, E Fox, R Steele.
Edinburgh Accies: V Hart; C Gray, G Spencer, W Stephen, R Chalmers; R Mill, R Davis; J Pearse, N Hall, C Imrie, R Seydak, R Lovett, M Badenhorst, J Sole, L Seydak. Subs: R Simpson, M McGinley,N Stephen, S Johnson, R Kent.
Referee: David Sutherland
Watsonians: Tries: McLean 2, Rowland 2, Innes; Con: Miller 3, Fox; Pen: Millar 2
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Gray, Sole, Badenhorts; Con: Mill, Hart
Scoring sequence (Watsonians first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 14-5; 17-5 (h-t) 22-5; 24-5; 24-10; 24-12; 27-12; 32-12; 32-17; 32-19; 37-19; 39-19.
Man-of-the-Match: Watsonians’s teenage winger Rufus McLean scored the opening two tries, made the fourth and looked sharp every time he touched the ball.
Talking point: Can the Watsonians squad prove to head coach Steveie Lawrie that they are not flat-track bullies by fronting up against Ayr at Millbrae next week? Can the Accies team show Derek O’Riordan that they have the killer instinct required to get that win they so desperately need?