Edinburgh Academical 28 GHA 7
The determination of the home side to play this match was evident with repeated pitch inspections before the pitch being declared playable after the last 10am inspection.There is considerable building work being carried out at historic Raeburn Place both on and off the pitch. Building plans will create a quite spectacular venue for rugby when complete and team building plans suggest that Acads are determined to reach the highest echelons of club rugby. Conditions saw the players warm up in sunny though very cold conditions. Whilst the pitch took a stud there were several crisp areas underfoot which the wintry sun had not yet quite penetrated. Both sides went through vigorous preparations, the cold acting as an extra stimulus to warm muscles and gain second breath. Body language provided an interesting contrast : Acads appeared confident and relaxed, GHA showed in facial expression at least a steady resolve to ask questions of the title chasing home side. It is a credit to all the players that they provided a game of rugby full of commitment and effort and no little skill on such a cold day. Within minutes of the start of the match GHA were to suffer the first of a catalogue of injuries which disrupted momentum and resulted in the whole visitors replacement bench being employed in this match.
GHA kicked off and put a long ball deep into the Acads twenty two metre area. The ball was cleared upfield by Robbie Chalmers and he and his colleagues , Ben Appleson and Jack Paterson were to give a master class in excellent positioning and fielding throughout the match. For several minutes GHA probed with diagonal kicks into space from Andrew Goudie and crisp inter passing through the backs orchestrated by Peter Jericevich. However there was a calm assured defence provided by the home side .a calmness and confidence which would have a huge bearing on the outcome of the match. After ten minutes GHA were camped in the home sides twenty two metre area and looking to find a way through a resolute defence. Some lovely interpassing between Fergus Haig and Scott Plumridge did make some ground before being stopped. By ten minutes GHA had lost Mike Ryan and Fergus Haig to injury but despite this the visitors continued to ask questions of the home defence. Several passes failed to go to hand or were knocked on in the tackle but GHA continued probing, running moves, involving the pack ( epitomised by one break by Andrew Cornwell which caused real concern in home ranks) but could not find that special pass or gap to translate their early dominance
Into points.On the twenty minute mark Acads burst from the back of a scrum on halfway and kicked towards the goal line. The move caught the visitors off balance and despite desperate efforts to retrieve the ball, Alex Glashan won the race to the line to score. Andrew Bell converted to make the score: ACADS 7 GHA 0.
Astonishingly this had been the home sides first foray into the visitors half and was a huge blow to GHA. Despite this set back GHA took the game straight back to Acads showing remarkable resilience in the face of such a confidence sapping blow. Acads visibly began to settle and began to use their advantage in height and weight to tell as they began to use their forwards especially Lawrie Seydak and Sam Gibson to drive at the GHA defence before releasing the ball to backs keen to run at the visitors. Just outside the twenty two metre area of the visitors on the half hour mark GHA were penalised for an infringement and the lightening quick Alex GLashan took a quick tap and Lawrie Seydak went over in support to make the score: ACADS 12 GHA 0. Glashan at scrum half and number eight Seydak had outstanding matches and worked together all afternoon to take the ball forward, to recycle and distribute to willing team mates. Andrew Bell converted and after thirty odd minutes the score was : ACADS 14 GHA 0.
Again the visitors had to cope with the knowledge that two excellently executed moves had given Acads a good lead. However, it has become increasingly obvious in recent weeks that GHA are not a group of players who will meekly give up. In fact despite these scores, Acads were having to work very very hard to contain an organised and determined visiting side who despite their disappointment were going through their full repertoire of moves and ploys winning good quality ball in the loose and proving more than a match for most of the scrums despite having to recast their side due to injuries. Michael Scott like all the pack worked feverishly in the loose and drove forward to midfield before being taken down. In thirty six minutes the talented Lawrie Seydak broke off from a scrum in midfield and was stopped in his tracks by a brave tackle from Andrew Goudie. In the resulting melee GHA gave away a penalty which was kicked into touch in the visitors half. From the lineout Acads employed the tactic of taking the ball forward in the maul before releasing Alex Glashan who engineered space to go through to score With the conversion the score now stood at : ACADS 21 GHA 0.
This was the final score of a curious first half. GHA had spent the majority of the half well inside the home half of the pitch. They had competed furiously and displayed no little skill against a really well organised and highly effective defence yet found themselves in arrears to a side that quite superbly and clinically finished any chance that came their way.
GHA began the second half in exactly the same manner they had displayed throughout the first half. They immediately took the game to the home side who had begun to realise the Braidholm side had no intention of accepting defeat and indeed would continue all afternoon to attack even from deep in their own half. Acads, confident in defence began to commit only enough forwards to the breakdown to secure ball before launching several of their powerful players at the heart of the GHA defence. The visitors held firm and for over five minutes play crossed across the park as both sides when in possession of the ball could not make headway against stubborn defences. There were breaks by Tony Brogan and Michael Scott and a daring intrusion by Grant Mollison but the home side remained unbroken. As we passed the twenty minute mark of the half a superb feint by Ross Findlay pushed the home defence deep into their own twenty two metre area and the tireless and highly effective Peter Jericevich found the time and space to carve his way through the home defence to score. The score was warmly received by the visiting support and drew appreciative applause from the home support in recognition of the efforts of a team that just would not give up. Andrew Goudie converted to make the score after twenty five minutes : ACADS 21 GHA 7.
The score seemed to lift the visitors who tried all they knew to break down the home defence and yet guard against further incursions from the home side. GHA forwards and backs showed great commitment and no little guile as they tried desperately to put further points on the board. All this effort tended to result in both sides moving the ball across the pitch and back again with neither side able to make meaningful advances. However with time running out Accies mounted a determined effort to score again and secure the bonus point for four scores. In a change of tactics they committed all of their forwards and drove deep into the visitors five metre area and went over to score to great acclaim amongst the home support. Andrew Bell with an excellent kick from a difficult angle converted. This made the score almost on the final whistle: ACADS 28 GHA 7.
Just after the final restart James Pearse was red carded for a misdemeanour in a melee which involved several players from both sides following a penalty award to GHA for a high tackle. The match finished at this point and Acads left the field perhaps relieved that they had taken their chances against a stubborn and determined visiting side who showed absolutely no inferiority complex against one of the title chasing sides in the league.
EDINBURGH ACCIES: R. CHALMERS, B. APPLETON, P. LOUDON, A. BELL, J. PATERSON, W. STEPHEN, A. GLASHAN, J. PEARSE, C. BLACK, C. LACOUR, S. GIBSON, N. AITKEN T. DRENNAN, J. SOLE, L. SEYDAK
Reserves: C. WEETMAN, S. GUNN, G. CAMPBELL, M. LOVE, S. KIRBY
Scorers: T – GLASHAN (2), SEYDAK, TBC C – BELL (4)
GHA: G. MOLLISON, J. EDGAR, B. ADDISON, S. PLUMRIDGE, A. SPOWART, A. GOUDIE, P. JERICEVICH, A. CORNWELL, G. CAMPBELL, M. SCOTT, J. AULD, G. MacDONALD, M. RYAN F. HAIG, R. ANGUS
Reserves: S. USUDA, T. BROGAN, P. HARKINS, M. MacFARLANE, R. FINDLAY
Scorers: T – JERICEVICH C – GOUDIE
REFEREE: MR D McCLEMENT
ASSISTANT REFEREES: MR J CRAMB & MR K McGHEE