Friday 8 December 2017

Match Preview NL1 12: Accies v Stewart's Melville

Saturday 9 December
1st XV v Stewart’s Melville

We begin the second half of the National 1 League campaign with a record as good as we have probably ever had at a similar stage of the season in our 160 years history – 11 out of 11. No need to say any more, other than what a great effort by all our playing squad, coaches and medical team

It is no time for complacency - we are now a prime target on all the clubs’ radars, looking to take down our record - and we are sure the coaches and senior players will ensure that none creeps in.

Saturday sees us host our closest of rivals, Stewart’s Melville, at Raeburn Place, when we will be playing for the Gavin Calder Memorial Cup. This Cup will be contested every time Accies and Stew Mel play each other at 1st XV level and is a fitting tribute to a man who gave so much to rugby and especially to Stew Mel.

We made hard work of our first game against them in September, when we were leading 0-24 at half time and then went to sleep in the second half, eventually winning 26-38. We gave away more points in that half than we have in any other full game - not far off a fifth of all we have conceded in 11 games.

Yes, we were a very new team and only a handful had played in our last competitive match in the previous April, but we just took the foot off the pedal. Without doubt we have improved as a squad of players since that fright and have come through some tough games. We have used 34 players in the 11 games and have only conceded an average of 12 points a game since that first match. In contrast, we have scored an average of 41 points per game.

Stew Mel have struggled since September, although they have recently beaten Gala at Netherdale and given the other Border sides some close run games. They will take any chance they can to improve that record, especially against Accies.

However, those records mean nothing as the players take the field on Saturday. It is what happens in the top two inches of the head and in the 80 minutes of the game that matters. We know we want a good start to the second half of the league campaign, we know the squad is well prepared and we look forward to a good game of rugby.

Coach's Comments

"We are getting to show our quality in depth again this week, with the return of Sam Johnson and Matt Coupar in the back division, with Robbie Chalmers returning on the bench. We also see Shaun Gunn stepping up to start and Finlay Richardson taking his place on the bench. Connor Weetman also returns to the bench, having missed the past couple of 1st XV games, and he will be hoping to impress when he comes on.

"It is great to be able to host Stewart’s Melville FP in our final home game of 2017 and to play for the Gavin Calder Memorial Cup. If any of our recent derby games are to go by, this should be a cracker.

"Getting the rustiness of the first game back after a month of no league action was needed last week and we were far from our best against GHA. This week we have had to re-focus on the principles of our attack, as we were lacking the speed to get into shape quickly enough from set-piece and that did not allow us to make the most of the opportunities GHA’s defence were giving us. We are hoping that this week, as with any other run of games this season, we simply go out and improve on the performance we left behind. If we do that and work hard for each other, the score will invariably take care of itself."

Our senior squad for this week:

Hamilton 2nd XV v Accies 2nd XV

Our 2nds are on the road to fellow Reserve League National 1 strugglers Hamilton. Hamilton are bottom of the league, three points behind us and have won two games to our three.

We beat Hamilton 27-10 in our first game at RP in September. Last week we came very close to getting a fourth win, but failed at the last hurdle against Stirling County. Let us hope we can reverse that this week. We need to.

Haddington 2nd XV v Accies 3rd XV

We make the short-ish journey to Haddington in a battle to see which team can avoid another 28-0 farce! This season Haddington have had six 28-0 games to our 8, where either the home team or opposition could not field a team.

Wherever a club lies in the table means little, as so much depends on getting either five points or none, depending which side of a 28-0 you are on. However, as things stand, Haddington are rock bottom on 12 points, against our 28, but this actually does not mean much.

Let us just hope that both sides can get a squad out this week. We live in hope, but it is exam week for many of the students and this is sure to have an effect.

Onwards and upwards!



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