Thursday 7 December 2017

Match Report NL1 11: Accies v GHA

1ST XV 29-7 GHA 1ST XV

Two weeks on from one of our biggest successes in recent seasons, beating Heriot's in the BT Cup, we welcomed GHA to Raeburn Place to complete the first half of our so far unbeaten league season.

The unavailability of Sam Johnson, Robbie Chalmers and Matt Coupar meant starting roles for Max Love, Conor Hirini and Josh Pecqueur, with Jack Forrester and James Murray - who was making his first 1st XV appearance for the Club in 11 years - taking places on the bench.

In the forwards Angus Inwood returned to the starting line up and Ali Wood took a place on the bench.

After the recent cold snap, conditions were good: fine, with what wind there was blowing towards the pond, and a soft-ish pitch.

We kicked off towards the clubhouse and for the first dozen minutes there was nothing in it, with both sides doing their best to attack but the defences holding out.

After GHA were penalised twice in quick succession, we worked our way to a lineout 10m from their line. We won the lineout and were camped on their line for the next three minutes. Andrew Mill was tackled short but went over the line. However, the referee's decision was “held up, no try”. From the resultant 5m scrum we worked the ball through the forwards and this time did score, with Clement ‘The Seagull’ Lacour touching it down: 5-0, 17 minutes gone.

Over the next 20 minutes play was mainly between our 10m line and GHA’s 22, with both sides throwing the ball around but neither team managing to make any decisive breaks to make the ball retention tell.

Following a long ‘kick-pass’ from Mill, which was knocked on at the GHA 5m line, we put pressure on the GHA scrum. Their relieving kick to touch was taken by Callum Ramm, who was stopped 10m from the line. We won quick ball and moved it right across the field, came close in the clubhouse corner, moved the ball back the other way and Mill was stopped just under the posts. We won the ball but knocked on in a tackle by ex-Accie Jamie McCarthy. Callum Black picked up and thought he had scored but the referee brought play back, not for the knock on but for an earlier penalty after a stray GHA boot had kicked the ball in the ruck!

We took a 5m scrum and drove GHA back, were awarded another penalty as their scrum broke up and opted to scrum again. Robin Snape picked up at 8, carried to within 2m of the line and Love moved the ball on to The Seagull to score his second try, this time under the posts. Richard Mill converted and the half time whistle went shortly afterwards with the score at 12-0.

We started the second half well and worked the ball from our 22 with some good inter-passing involving most of the team. Luther Hirini made the decisive break and was brought down 2m short of the posts, Mill was there to move the ball to Jack Mann on his right, who passed to our Cypriot International, Josh Pecqueur, who scored in the corner. 22 passes in the movement, 17-0 after four minutes of the second half.

Six minutes later GHA’s ill discipline cost them. The first offence was a late charge by their open-side after Mill had cleared the ball from in our 22. A penalty was given, with the ball landing near the GHA 10m line. This was greeted by some choice language to the referee from the offender - who incidentally had pushed his luck all game – and an extra 10m were added.

With Shaun Gunn replacing Belgian International James Pearse, we had a lineout on their 5m line. A simple catch and an easy drive saw our captain, Jamie Sole, over for our bonus point try. Mill’s conversion took the score to 24-0, 14 minutes gone.

At the restart Ali Wood replaced Jamie Sole. He made an immediate impact at the second breakdown when he was first there and quick on the ball. GHA failed to release; penalty to us.

GHA then had their best moment in the game. They attacked with determination and, after recycling a number of breakdowns, they found us short of defenders on the open side. Their centre, Ross Findlay, cut back against the grain to score a good try, which he converted: 24-7, 20 minutes gone.

Over the next few minutes we brought on our remaining finishers, with James Murray, Rory Simpson and Jack Forrester replacing Mills, Black and Ramm.

The game continued with both sides throwing the ball around rather than making any direct runs to commit the defences. Play was now generally in the GHA half and our forwards were totally in control at the scrums. However, we did not manage to break through and challenge their line.

With two minutes to go we won a scrum against the head on their 10m line. Snape picked up and carried to the narrow side and on to Pecqueur, who was stopped on the 22. The ball was passed from the left wing right across the field and back to the right touchline, where Wood and Simpson combined well to take the ball to 15m from the line.

The ball was whipped out to the left again - Love to Murray, to The Seagull, to Luther Hirini then on to Inwood who passed to Mann. Mann made ground and was tackled but the forwards were there quickly and drove over Mann. The ball was popped up to Shaun Gunn who ’tip-toed’ his way through two tackles to score. The conversion was missed and the whistle went with the score at 29-7.

It was a good game in which both sides were intent on playing attacking rugby, although we perhaps lacked some directness mid-field. Overall it was probably not as close as the score suggested, as we were in the GHA half for most of the game. We took everything out of the game that we could - a win plus a bonus point - we could do no more.

Except for Musselburgh beating Gala at Netherdale (when did that last happen?) the other results in the league were fairly predictable. Jed won at Philiphaugh with a bonus to keep them just five points behind us but there is now a 15-point gap to Selkirk in third place. 16 December at Riverside is going to be some scrap!

Half way through the league and 11 out of 11 is a first for us. We have set ourselves up as the target to be knocked over during the remaining 11 games, which are spread over the next 18 weeks and see us travelling to Jed, Selkirk, Aberdeen, GHA and Falkirk. Stew Mel at home this Saturday, then the final game of 2017 the following week is the big one at Jed. 

Man of the Match was Max Love, one of only four players to have played in each of our 11 league games this season.

Tries: Lacour (2); Pecqueur; Sole; Gunn
Conversions: Mill (2)


The 2nd XV battled bravely with Stirling but unfortunately came up just short 20-22. Not the result we would have hoped for, although we did take a point from the game for being within 7 points of their score.

Tries: Matthew Henson; Johnny McSorley
Conversions: James Gordon (2)
Penalties: James Gordon (2) 

Accies 3rd XV lost to Currie 3rd XV in a friendly - though won 28-0!

This game had an air of mystery about it with Currie having to forfeit the game - giving us a 28-0 win - because their 2nd XV could not play their Reserve League National 1 game against Watsonians as they lacked a front row.

Currie had earlier informed us they had a 60 year-old prop in the 3rds, because of prop issues, but the XV that turned up did not seem to have anyone near 60 in the team and managed competitive scrums, which makes you wonder why there were front row issues for their 2nds.

Anyhow, a Currie 3rds, heavily fortified with young fit 2nds, ran us ragged in the friendly, running in four tries in the first half. Our team ran out of steam in the second half - no more than you would expect when it was the first game for a few of our players in a number of years - and we conceded more tries.

Young BATs’ Assistant DO, Lauchlan Gautherin, did manage to cross for our only try.

Whatever happened, at least 30+ players got a game of rugby, which is good and rewards the efforts the coaching team and team managers. It also gives us respite from another threatening letter from the Fortress Murrayfield pen pushers, which is a big relief.

Onwards and upwards!


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