Tuesday 30 January 2018

Match Report NL1 17: Falkirk v Accies


There were four changes to our forward squad for Falkirk compared to those who had played against Dundee the week before, a couple enforced, one through injury and one experimental.

The enforced changes were due to the unavailability of Shaun Gunn and Finlay Richardson, following their Scotland U20 selection. This gave Martin McGinley a place on the bench and a chance to build on his performance against Cartha, since which injury has hampered his selection. The injury led to the late withdrawal of Lawrie Seydak, who was replaced by Ali Wood, and the experiment was to see how the back five would look with Jake Mann at second row.

As we drove to Falkirk, conditions did not look too good with field after field under water, but Falkirk's modern, sand-based, well drained pitch was in superb condition. The wind, however, was not. It was a strong sou'westerly, blowing down the pitch and giving a distinct advantage to the side playing from the clubhouse end.

We chose to play into the wind and Falkirk kicked off. We immediately made good ground, with Callum Black ‘dancing’ through to their 10m line where, following some crisp handling by most of our team and some weak tackling, which was to be repeated throughout the game, Matt Coupar scored in the right hand corner. 0-5, three minutes gone.

Within two minutes we were over again, following good interplay between Richard Mill and the Hirini brothers. Hill sold a dummy to Luther Hirini and gave the ball to Conor, who broke a tackle, moved the ball back to Mill and then to the supporting Luther, who went over from 30m. Mill converted: 0-12.

For a few minutes play was in our 22 but when Falkirk dropped the ball we worked our way back up field, mainly through a 40m break by Neil Armstrong. This was followed by some tricky footwork by Robbie Chalmers, quick ball from the breakdown and Chalmers scoring in the corner. 0-17, with just 14 minutes gone.

Falkirk restarted with a deep kick and this time kept play near our line. After a number of ‘playing advantages’ called by the ref, the Falkirk second row, Grant Harman, found a gap between our defending front row to score. Foinn Call converted: 7-17, 17 minutes gone.

Over the next 20 minutes the wind increased and the Heavens opened, making the conditions difficult for playing rugby and there was no scoring. The experiment with Mann was short-lived as he came off injured, to be replaced by Angus Inwood, who played for Falkirk last season.

Fortunately the rain stopped and we began to make progress again. Black broke away from near our 22 and passed to Jamie Sole on our 10m line. Sole offloaded to Luther H on the half way, who moved the ball on to his borther. Conor H made ground to their 22 and found Coupar, across from the other wing, on his shoulder. Coupar scored in the corner, making the score 7-22 with 39 minutes gone.

Well into injury time, Snape broke away 30m out and brushed off a number of attempted tackles to ‘score’, not that a TV replay or a number of the players would have agreed with that call! Mill converted: 7-29.

Even though we were well in injury time there was to be another score before the break. Black took the ball 40m out, went through two tackles, left the full back for dead with some deft footwork for a hooker and scored under the posts. Mill converted with a drop kick: 7-36 and halftime. 

We kicked off the second half and play was contained in Falkirk’s 22. Within three minutes Armstrong strolled through to score. Mill converted: 7-43.

With various replacements made by both teams, it was not long until we scored again. After three scrums on their 5m line, we drove them back and Ali Wood scored. Mill converted: 7-50, 11 minutes gone.

Within a minute we were over again, following a break from the half way by Chalmers who stepped round a number of defenders but was stopped 2m out under the posts. Quick ball moved to the right found the unmarked Connor Weetman, who had just replaced Black, who scored in the corner: 7-55.

We were using the wind well and Will Stephan, who had come on as fly-half, was punishing Falkirk with some lengthy kicks into the corners. With our scrum and line-out on top, Falkirk were finding it difficult to get the ball and with 22 minutes gone, Wood scored his second try, when the scrum pushed Falkirk back over their line: 7-62.

Two minutes later it was replacement Callum Ramm’s turn to score. Fllowing a fly-hack through by Weetman from the half way, Ramm won the sprint and controlled the ball well with his feet to dot down. With Mill’s conversion: 7-69.

Within seconds, straight from the restart, Snape made 50m, brushing off at least six tackles. When he was eventually stopped, he found Weetman who passed to James Pearse to go under the posts: Mill converted, 7-76.

We were now bringing on replacements who had played earlier in the game and played out the match with a hooker and a prop as the open and blindside wing forwards.

Following a driving maul, Wood went over for his hat-trick try: 7- 81. This clearly woke up the slumbering ‘Seagull’, because within minutes Clem Lacour took a crash ball to score: 7-86, 35 minutes gone.

As time ran out Mill got free on the half way line, broke a couple of tackles and put the ball back inside to Chalmers on their 22. Chalmers made it almost to the line, passed outside to Luther H, who did a pirouette that bamboozled the Falkirk winger and scored with a fine dive. Mill’s conversion attempt hit the post: 7-91, three minutes to go.

Another 5m lineout led to a good drive and ‘the Seagull’ scored his second try. Smelling a century of points, we tried a quick drop goal and went back for the kick off. We gathered the restart and made good progress down the left wing but then dropped a pass. The whistle went for full time, leaving the score at 7-96. 

It is difficult to summarise such a one-sided game in which 11 different players scored our 16 tries, 6 into the wind and 10 with the wind. We played well, both with and against the elements, but we have to realise the opposition was a team made up of last season’s second XV who have struggled all season against National 1 opposition. Even though they never gave up, it was obvious there was a gulf in size, skills, pace and fitness. But we can only play what is put in front of us. 

Our Man of the Match was Ali Wood, our 2nd XV captain, who only came into the team on Friday morning. He scored a hat-trick and came out top against a number of other players who had noticeable games.

Most other results from the National 1 league went as predicted, the notable exceptions being Selkirk losing at Cartha and our next opponents, Stew Mel, winning at Aberdeen. With Jed taking a comfortable win at Musselburgh it still leaves them just five points behind and hanging on our coat tail, although our points difference has grown to 510 against their 302.

Tries: Matt Coupar (2); Luther Hirini (2); Robbie Chalmers; Robin Snape; Callum Black; Neil Armstrong; Ali Wood (3); Connor Weetman; Callum Ramm; James Pearse; Clement Lacour (2);
Conversions: Mill (8)


A great win for the 2nds, with the coaches reporting that: “the whole team was immense”. Man of the Match was Rory Simpson.

Tries: Cole Imrie; Jonny Murray; Pete Burns (2); Rory Simpson
Conversions: James Murray (2)
Penalties: James Murray


It was very pleasing to get a 3rd XV out this week. Thank you to all those who put their hands up and turned out. Their efforts were not rewarded with a win but they did earn a four-try bonus point. The Man of the Match was Archie McNicol.

Tries: Rory Hanson (Fettes) (2); Scott McClenaghan (Broughton); Alex Cowan
Conversions: Paul Arnold (3)

Onwards and upwards!



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