GHA 12 Edinburgh Accies 24
Braidholm has been a busy club scene over recent weeks and Saturday was no exception. The club was hosting the Ladies Lunch, superbly attended, and also a supporters lunch. Adding a Gallic twist to the day was the arrival of French club O’Vals Stars to play the world famous Gazelles. Our cousins from across La Manche went down 17-15 in an entertaining match. To cap it all league leaders Edinburgh Accies arrived to play a match which would go some way to deciding the Championship and they brought a large travelling support with them. After the recent very cold spell it was at first a mild Spring day that greeted everyone. There was little wind and both sides prepared for a vital match. Accies waited to about forty minutes to kick off to go through their drills and warm up. There was an air of confidence about the visitors who have led the table all season. The home side in contrast displayed a grim determination that suggested that Accies would face a real test.
Just before kick off a downpour arrived and very heavy rain was to last incredibly for the whole match with no discernible break. The torrential rain immediately handed the physically powerful visitors an advantage and the appalling weather would make it increasingly difficult to play running rugby. Accies kicked off and the ball was gathered by James Edgar. The home side immediately attempted to run the ball at the Accies defence but found themselves engulfed by two man tackles where the emphasis was to keep man and ball off the floor. Accies won the ball and messrs Hirini and Snape took the ball into contact before recycling. In these opening minutes Accies were intent on making territory and trying to push the home side on to the back foot. A speculative grubber kick by Richard Mill went over the dead ball line and GHA quickly restarted. Accies began taking the ball into contact in two and three man drives, continually forcing the home side to defend deeper and deeper in their own half. Already the incessant rain was making handling difficult and knock ons and dropped balls were to become the norm in dreadful conditions. Accies continued to build patiently and for several minutes only desperate tackling by the home side in which every player played their part prevented the visitors from scoring.In the eighth minute after both sides had attempted to win territory by kicking behind defences, Accies surged towards the GHA five metre line and in a well crafted forward effort got the ball over the line to score. The try was given to the very hardworking Jamie Sole. The conversion was successful and the score after ten minutes was GHA 0 ACCIES 7.
The score was received with elation amongst the visiting support and there were looks of foreboding amongst the home support. GHA however had other ideas and immediately took the game back to Accies.Both sides were doing their best to cope with the atrocious conditions. As we reached the twelth minute, GHA began to demonstrate a determination to give no quarter to their opponents and indeed began to capitalise on mistakes by the visitors. An astonishing break from his own half by Andy Gillman cut through the visiting defence and only a brave last ditch tackle by Luther Hirini prevented a score. The ball was adjudged to have gone forward and in the resulting scrum the very capable partnership of Sam Johnson and Richard Mill cleared the danger for the visitors. The next few minutes were dominated by play going across the pitch as both defences nullified breaks and ploys to create an attacking position. The home crowd was cheered by the superb efforts of their side and Accies looked much less comfortable than they had at the start of the match. Adam Barnett was giving the visiting line out a deal of problems, intercepting or forcing a ragged throw to the back of the lineout. The GHA pack although lighter than their opponents were contesting set piece and loose and disrupting the visitors attacking strategies.
As we reached the half hour mark, GHA began to dominate territory and clearly their confidence was growing. Despite treacherous weather, the home side began to move the ball with accuracy and intent and Accies found themselves on the back foot. Chris Binnie made an excellent break but the move came to nought as a greatly relieved visiting support greeted the award of a penalty to Accies which was cleared. However the home side pressed again with David Corbenici acting as an auxiliary back asking questions of the Accies defence. Despite being under considerable pressure from angled runs and close support from the home side, the visitors calmly cleared the danger.The GHA back line with Clement Tucoulet in particular were forcing Accies to turn on to the back foot. However half time arrived with the score: GHA 0 ACCIES 7. It had been a pulsating half played in dreadful conditions. GHA had weathered the early storm from the visitors and had visibly grown in confidence as the half wore on. The water filled pitch made passing difficult and Accies used their physical strength to blunt any GHA penetration. However the game was very finely balanced and there was expectation in the air that the second half would be very close.
The second half began with a huge effort by the home side to put pressure on the Accies defence. Several penalties for infringements were exchanged with little benefit to either side. However GHA after seven minutes of the half mounted a huge three man drive which broke through the Accies defence. In a sudden change of tactic the ball was passed out to Andrew Goudie whose deft kick into the corner was scooped up brilliantly by James Edgar who swam over the line to score to a huge cheer from the home crowd. A difficult conversion was missed and the score after nine minutes of the half was GHA 5 ACCIES 7.
Accies were reeling from this score and for several minutes lost their composure. Andrew Goudie with another excellent kick put the ball into touch at the visitors five metre line. In an uncharacteristic moment of slackness the resulting lineout ball was thrown over the head of the intended Accies recipient and in lightning reactions was seized by Seitaro Usuda to dive over and score. The try was converted to loud cheering by the home support to make the score after twelve minutes.GHA 12 ACCIES 7. The home side were matching the league leaders in almost every area of the match and Accies began to make several replacements. GHA followed suit as the attritional nature of the match began to take its toll. The quality of the visitors shown through as they carefully worked their way up the pitch with a combination of two and three man drives and close support passing. GHA realised this was a crucial period of the match and every home player gave of his best as the visitors relentlessly forced the home side back. From deep inside the GHA half, the visitors were awarded a penalty for the home side going offside. Accies elected to go for a scrum and to the delight of their supporters and the total dismay of the home crowd Accies were awarded a penalty try as the home side were adjudged to have infringed at the set piece to prevent a score. Thus after twenty five minutes the score was GHA 12 ACCIES 14.
Conditions now were treacherous as players lost their footing and the ball. A knocked forward ball gave Accies a scrum inside the GHA ten metre area. The strong visiting pack quickly worked the ball and Max Love ran a beautiful angle to go round the despairing GHA defence. To the loudest cheers of the day, Max dived over to score. The conversion attempt was missed and after thirty minutes the score was GHA 12 ACCIES 19.
These two wounds would have dispirited many a side but despite Accies growing control of the latter stages, GHA continued to take the game to the visitors. The pitch markings were all but lost in a sea of mud. The tension in the closing stages was palpable as the game was still finely balanced and the astonishing effort by both sides began to take its toll, mistakes became more common as the ball resembled a bar of soap. As many began to check their watches for a variety of reasons, Accies broke up to midfield. The visitors were awarded a penalty and an impressive kick by Will Stephen took play up to the GHA five metre area. From the resulting catch and drive Jamie Sole once again went over to seal the victory for ACCIES. The conversion was missed and the final score in an enthralling match was GHA 12 EDINBURGH ACCIES 24.
Everyone associated with the match deserves huge admiration for providing such a match in atrocious conditions. GHA had matched their opponents for long periods of the match and will be frustrated that they were unable to win this match. Accies continue to lead the table and their try scoring bonus point will be vital in the last matches.
ACCIES L.HIRINI M.COUPAR C.HIRINI N.ARMSTRONG R.CHALMERS R.MILL S.JOHNSON J.PEARSE C.BLACK C.LACOUR R.LOVETT R.SEDACK R.SNAPE J.SOLE L.SEYDACK
Replacements: R.SIMPSON F.RICHARDSON J.MAN M.LOVE W.STEPHEN
GHA : C.BINNIE J.EDGAR B.ADDISON C.TUCOULET C.KING A.GOUDIE A.GILLMAN S.CARSON S.USUDA M.SCOTT A.BARNETT A.KERR D.CORBENICI D.EWING R.ANGUS Replacements: K.CHERNICK L.MAVUNGA J.SUTHERLAND G.BAIRD G.MOLLISON.
REFEREE: MR S TURNBULL
ASSISTANTS : MR C GEORGE MR S WARD