Thursday 22 February 2018

Match Report NL1 18: Accies v Gala

Accies 46-7 Gala

It was back to league rugby on Saturday, as we welcomed Gala to Raeburn Place to see if they could knock us off our winning streak in return for us taking their unbeaten record and breaching Fortress Netherdale earlier this season.

With our captain, Jamie Sole, returning from his week off and Jack Mann back from injury and on the bench, it meant Alistair Wood was unlucky to drop back to captain the 2nd XV. 18 year-old prop-cum-hooker Cole Imrie, a product of BATs and ACE Academy, also took a place on the bench and we were pleased to see Neil Armstrong back in the centre after a three week lay-off through injury.

The sun was out, with a gentle wind blowing slightly across the pitch towards the pond, though the pitch was as soft as we had seen it all season.

Gala kicked off towards the pond and we took the ball and put pressure on Gala from the start. Following good breaks from Luther Hirini and Ronan Seydak we took play to their 10m line. Then followed a quick ball from Max Love to Richard Mill, a miss pass to Conor Hirini, who made it to 15m out then popped the ball inside to the supporting Mill to score: 5-0, 5 minutes gone.

Within no time we were over again. Matt Coupar made 40m down the right wing and Inwood carried the ball on. Then Luther H tripped through half the Gala team to within 10m of their line. Love was at the tackle, moved the ball right to Sole, on to Conor H, then a switch-back to the left where Luther H gave a long pass to James Pearse. Pearse committed the last man and gave the ball to Robbie Chalmers to score. 10-0, 8 minutes gone and Gala had not yet touched the ball.

From the restart Gala recovered the ball but made no real headway and when they lost the ball on our 22 we started to work our way up field. A break from Sole put us on the front foot, the Hirini brothers linked and Conor H kicked ahead, was first to the ball and beat a couple of players with another kick through. 'The Seagull' was on hand to take over and dribble it to the posts, where Snape picked up, on to Mill and Seydak took the ball and scored between the posts. Mill converted: 17-0, 11 minutes gone.

For the next 20 minutes we had most of the possession and play was mainly in the Gala half, but we could not get through their defence. Then, following a dropped ball, Coupar picked it up and passed to Seydak on the right wing 40m out. Seydak set off down the wing, beat a couple of players and, when eventually held, popped a pass inside to the supporting Coupar, who went over near the clubhouse corner: 22-0, 32 minutes gone and our bonus point in the bag.

Play continued mainly in the Gala half. Just before the break we had a number of pick and drives, which were finished off by Robert Lovett who touched down at the base of the post. With Mill’s conversion the score was 29-0 and the half time whistle went shortly after.

The second half started as well for us as the first. Following some good play in the Gala 22, Armstrong broke through to within 10m of the line, Love moved the ball to Pearse, who passed back inside to Callum Black. Black was stopped on the line but Love was on hand to get the ball to Mill, on to Inwood, who took a tackle and slipped the ball to Lovett. Lovett then threw an audacious pass through his legs, straight to Luther H, who selfishly passed on to brother Conor outside him. Conor scored a really well taken try: 32-0, 4 minutes gone.

Gala now had their best moments of the match, applying good attacking rugby in our 22. We held them out for a while but John Turnbull found himself unmarked on the left wing and scored. Dean Kiddie converted: 34-7, eight minutes into the second half.

We responded by picking up our game. Gala found it difficult to clear their line in the scoreboard corner after their own lineout 7m out. Their clearing kick was run back from the halfway line by Luther H who moved the ball to Mill on their 10m line. Mill gave the ball to Coupar short of the 22 and Coupar carried to 5m out where he off-loaded out of the back door to Conor H on the wing. Conor scored his second: 39-7, 12 minutes gone.

Both teams were now playing running, attacking rugby but with neither managing to break the defences. As we moved into the last quarter of the game we managed to produce another scoring chance, when replacement Martin McGinley received the ball on their 22 and crashed his way to 15m out. Replacement Sam Johnson was on hand to move the ball on to replacement Will Stephen, on to Sole then Chalmers, who scored his second try in the scoreboard corner. Mill converted to make the score 46-7, with 14 minutes left.

The final part of the game was played out between the 22s, with both sides trying to run the ball but making too many mistakes to get any real continuity.

A 46-7 win was very welcome and well deserved against a side that tested us so much at Netherdale just a few months ago. But, while Gala battled hard throughout on what was a difficult afternoon for them, we showed the quality and enterprise that have taken us to 17 wins out of 17 games this League season.

We dictated play from the start of both halves, scoring the first try of each half within five minutes and going on in the first half to score three tries with only 11 minutes on the clock.

Man of the Match was Robert Lovett, who scored a try and made another with that pass through his legs. He was pushed hard for that honour by a number of our players who also had very good games.

There were no real surprises in the other results, other than Cartha winning by four points at Musselburgh in a high-scoring (67 points) game. That still leaves Jed, who beat Aberdeen 40-26, hanging on our shirttails, 10 points behind us with 74 points and a game in hand. However, with five games left, the 28-point gap between third-placed Selkirk and us means the worst we can now finish the season is second.

Tries: Mill (sponsor: Graham + Sibbald); Chalmers (2) (sponsor: Mr & Mrs Sole); Seydak (sponsor: Dufrain Consulting); Coupar (sponsor: Thistly Cross Cider); Lovett (sponsor: Brewin Dolphin); C Hirini (2) (sponsor: Graeme Hartop)
Conversions: Mill (3)

No League games for the Club this week but an Accies XV will be playing our bi-annual Calcutta Cup weekend game against Gordonstoun Old Boys, Inverleith Park, 12:00. The Scottish Parliament XV return to Raeburn Place, this time to play their Westminster ‘rivals’, ko at 12:00. Following those matches, the Calcutta Cup game will be on the big screen in the clubhouse for those not heading to Murrayfield. With two Accies in the Scotland starting line-up (Watson and Laidlaw) and two more on the bench (Denton and Kinghorn), we will be watching with added interest.

Onwards and upwards!




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