Thursday 8 February 2018

Match Report NL1 12: Accies v Stewart's Melville (rescheduled)


For our derby game against Stew Mel we had a similar squad the one that played at Falkirk, although some players were rotated from and on to the bench to give some game time and others a rest.

As the day dawned we could see we were going to be in for a dreich day and so it proved to be, with little wind, low lying cloud cover and rain all afternoon. It was the first time it had rained on a 1st XV home game since we erected the hut in memory of our late gateman, John Cochran, in the summer of 2016.

Stew Mel kicked off towards the pond and never mind the conditions, both sides showed their intent to run the ball from the start.

Within two minutes a strong tackle from Connor Weetman forced Stew Mel to lose the ball. Jamie Sole picked it up and passed to Robbie Chalmers, who immediately gave the ball to Callum Ramm just in our half. Ramm outpaced the Stew Mel defence to score in the corner. Richard Mill converted: 7-0.

Stew Mel came back at us strongly. After a lengthy period of pressure in our 22 they put a penalty into the corner, won the line and drove us back for their prop to touch down: 7-5, seven minutes gone.

Over the next 10 minutes play was mainly mid-field until, following a good drive by Martin McGinley, Stew Mel were penalised for not rolling away. Mill put the ball in the corner and for the next few minutes we kept play in their 22. Another penalty into the corner saw Weetman go over from a neat move following the lineout: 12-5, 17 minutes gone.

Play continued with both sides still in attacking mode, although play was mostly in the Stew Mel half, and it was not until the 40th minute that we managed to add to our score.

Following a number of forward drives in the clubhouse corner, Matt Coupar made ground to their 22, with Conor Hirini and Sole taking the ball on. From the breakdown a quick pass from Max Love found Angus Inwood, who took the ball to within 8m, where he was tackled and off loaded to Chalmers. Chalmers committed the last man and gave the unmarked Ramm the ball with 5m to go. Mill’s conversion hit the upright: 17-5 and the half time whistle went.

At half time the young referee (who is now old enough to drive) decided to change his Accies ‘look-a-like’ jersey for a yellow strip. Perhaps the pass he received just before half time persuaded him that was best, because he didn’t fancy being tackled next time!

We started the second half well and a 25m run by James Pearse took us to within 15m of their line. The move continued, taking us close a couple of times and when Coupar was stopped, 2m out, a quick pass from replacement Sam Johnson put Mill in near the posts for the bonus point try. Mill converted his own try: 24-5, six minutes gone.

For the next seven minutes we were in control and playing well. Following a good break by Luther Hirini, which ended when he slipped, Johnson recovered the ball and moved it right to Inwood. Inwood made 10m and Johnson was there again, recycling to Mill, Mill to Coupar, Coupar to Chalmers and for the third time in the game Chalmers committed his defender and gave a scoring pass, this time to the supporting Conor Hirini: 29-5, 15 minutes gone.

By now we had all our replacements involved and, following a sweeping movement from right to left, the ball got to replacement Callum Black, ‘loitering’ in the 'tram line' in front of the stand. He took the ball and broke through five tackles in front of our watching supporters and bench, which really fired them up.

Johnson continued the move, then on to Sole, who gave it to Black again. Black broke through two more tackles, then we drove to the 5m line where Mill put a cross kick wide to the right wing. Coupar took the ball coming in from the wing and off-loaded to Ronan Seydak, who threw a pass out of the ‘back door’ to Conor Hirini. Conor caught the ball well above his head and went over in the right corner to score a very well worked team try: 34-5, 22 minutes gone.

With the pitch getting heavier and the rain still falling, the remaining time was played out with both teams making mistakes, especially around ball retention. For the final five minutes Stew Mel had us pinned back in our 22 with our defence tested to the limit. Try as they did, our defence held out, repelling one phase of over 20 recycles on our 5m line.

A crunching tackle from Jamie Sole stopped what looked like a certain try in the corner and then a penalty put Stew Mel back with a 5m lineout. They caught and drove to our line but we turned the ball over and booted it deep into North Park Terrace and the whistle went for full time.

Stew Mel rose to the occasion and prevented us relaxing by keeping us under pressure, especially during the middle part of the first half and the last 10 minutes of the game. They certainly didn’t look like a team that is sitting second bottom of the league and in a relegation battle to remain in National 1.

We took our chances well. Even when we gave away the early try in the first half and during the big defensive effort that was required to keep our line intact at times after that, we never really looked as if we would lose the game. In the end we deserved our win and to retain the Gavin Calder Cup, which was presented to our Captain and Man of the Match, Jamie Sole, by his mother.

All the other results in National 1 went very much as predicted. However, Jed did not have a game, due to Kelso’s dispensation to play in Wales, so the gap between us is now 10 points but of course Jed have a game in hand. Our next League opponents, Gala, who we play on 17 February at RP, are third and 28 points behind us.

Before that, though, our thoughts turn to the BT Cup quarterfinals as we take on Stirling away on Saturday, ko 14.30.

Tries: Callum Ramm (2); Connor Weetman; Richard Mill; Conor Hirini (2)
Conversions: Richard Mill (2)


Our 2nd XV put up a brave fight against high-flying Watsonians 2nds and, although they did not manage a wine, they took a bonus point from the game having scored four tries. The Man of the Match was Pete Burns.

Tries: Pete Burns (2); George Spencer; Robert Wilson
Conversions: James Gordon (2)

Onwards and upwards!


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