GHA 31 Edinburgh Accies 20
It has not been an easy start to GHA’s return to Premiership rugby. Three defeats in a row would suggest perhaps that the Braidholm side are struggling. However there has been growing evidence that the players and coaching staff at GHA are developing the self belief to survive and hopefully blossom at this level.A dry day greeted all on their arrival at Braidholm. The home side have been working very hard in training to master the levels both physically and mentally required to compete successfully at this level. Preparation for this match was affected by the late arrival of Accies to Braidholm resulting in a delayed start. This had an effect on the preparation of Edinburgh Accies but it also affected the preparation of the home side who had to adjust their carefully choreographed preparation patterns to cope with the delay.
GHA kicked off towards Dave Barnett’s “scoreboard end” and after gathering the ball in their own half,the visitors sought to run the ball straight back at GHA. However Accies were penalised for crossing and Jack Anderson took play from half way deep into the visitors half with the first of many well executed touch kicks. Accies cleared the immediate danger but attempts to break out were stymied by a very quick offensive tackling line from GHA which knocked opponents down . The home side gained possession and a drive by Dario Ewing pushed Accies on to the backfoot inside their twenty two metre area. Incursions by messrs McCarthy and Lonergan were stopped but GHA were awarded a penalty. Quicksilver scrum half, Andrew Gillman took it quickly and the ball was passed at speed along the back line to allow Grant Mollison to score. The try was converted and the score after four minutes was: GHA 7 EDINBURGH 0.
The visitors attempted to carry the match back to GHA but very effective tackling by the home side blunted attempts to gain Accies a foothold in the match. Indeed the growing self belief of the home side was beginning to trouble the visitors who made several uncharacteristic errors in possession. After ten minute GHA were awarded a penalty inside the Accies half. Jack Anderson with his educated foot kicked towards the corner and there was a spring in the step of the home forwards as they moved deep into Accies territory. . The superb duo of Kerr and Mccarthy secured the line out ball and the home forwards working in coordinated style drove the hapless Accies defenders back and Hamish Clark got hands on the ball to score. The try was converted and after twelve minutes the score was: GHA 14 ACCIES 0.
The visitors sensed that they had to ask questions of the redoubtable home defence if they were going to make progress in the match. Jamie Loomes began to prompt his forwards from his stand off position with a series of subtle kicks which pushed GHA back on to the back foot. A series of feints and drives especially by messrs Crombie, Campbell and Sole tested the strength of the GHA resolve. As we reached the seventeenth minute, several minutes of Accies pressure resulted in the home side losing a lineout and allowing Ruairi Campbell to make a powerful break for the line from inside the GHA twenty two metre area which carried him over to score. The try was not converted and the score was now:GHA 14 EDINBURGH 5.
This set back would be a test of the depth of the home side’s self belief. As we moved towards the half hour both sides attempted to achieve a platform for control only to be rebuffed by solid defence. As a result play tended to move across the pitch and into both ten metre areas. However a strong forward movement by Accies resulted in a penalty award deep inside the GHA twenty two metre area. The visitors elected to kick the penalty and thus reduced the leeway. The score was now: GHA 14 EDINBURGH 8.
As we moved towards the interval there was a contrast between the body language of the sides. GHA remained composed and determined and clearly confident in their approach. Accies by contrast seemed frustrated by their inability to establish a prolonged period of dominance. By the thirty third minute of the half, GHA had been pressurising the visitors for several minutes. IN a superb move from gaining possession at a s scrum the GHA back line passed the ball through hands cutting through the Accies desperate defence before feeding Charlie Lonergan who scored to the delight of his team mates and the home support. The conversion was missed and the score was now: GHA 19 EDINBURGH 8.
At this critical juncture just before the interval the home side gathered the ball from the restart and exploded into the Accies half. Great handling work by messrs Lonergan, King and Gillman allowed the flying Jackson Baillie to score in the corner to the stunned faces of the visiting support and team. A very narrow miss by Jack Anderson made the half time score: GHA 24 EDINBURGH 8.
It had been an absorbing first forty minutes.GHA played with a confidence and self belief that Accies found very difficult to overcome. Both sides were willing to play attacking rugby constantly which allowed a certain flow to the match. Following a degree of hard introspection at the interval Accies began the second half in determined mood. Accies pressed the GHA defence which was being strained by the efforts of the visitors. After five minutes of the half a penalty at halfway allowed the visitors to kick to the corner . The visiting support urged their side to capitalise on this territorial position. A well executed catch and drive allowed Jamie Sole to go over with forward support. The try was converted and the score was now: GHA 24 EDINBURGH 15.
Despite this setback, GHA held firm to their game plan and continued to make inroads through their eager forwards such as Adam Barnett Tony Brogan and MIchael Fox. The match if anything quickened in pace and the constant forward rushes and defensive duties was taxing for both sides. Accies were now employing deft cross field kicks towards their wingers in an attempt to stretch and isolate the home defenders. After thirteen minutes, Accies won a penalty in side the GHA twenty two metre area. Catching and stabilising the lineout , Accies then skilfully passed the ball, through hands taking out the attempted tackle to allow Max Love to score in the corner to acclaim from the visiting support. The conversion failed and the score after sixteen minutes was now: GHA 24 EDINBURGH 20.
Up to around the twenty third minute GHA hgad to withstand tremendous pressure from the visitors but did so with a calm and determined manner which added to the frustration of the visitors.IT was now Accies turn to rebuff the attempts by messrs Clark,McCarthy Kerr, Brogan and Ewing to make inroads to Accies territory.Anxious glances to the scoreboard suggested that time was of the essence for both sides. Play shifted from end to end as both sides looked to find a match winning score. Calm heads in the GHA side maintained the pressure on the visitors with the game on a knife edge. However in the last five minutes, GHA were in the ascendency and strove to find a way through to make the points safe. With minutes remaining, GHA were awarded a penalty inside the Accies twenty two metre area and the kick took the home side towards the Accies goal line. The home side secured the ball and drove the visitors on to their goal line from where Adam Kerr got the ball down to score. George Baird converted and the final score was: GHA 31 EDINBURGH 20.
THis had been an excellent performance by the home side who demonstrated from the first whistle a self belief in all they did. There are many hard matches ahead but this is an important step in believing in their own ability to compete at this level.
EDINBURGH ACCIES: M LOVE R.CAMERON R.WILSON R.MILL J.ADAMSON J.LOOMES M.SINCLAIR D.ANDERSON S.CROMBIE C.IMRIE J.BRUCE A.INWOOD P.O’SULLIVAN J.SOLE R.CAMPBELL R.SIMPSON F.MacKENZIE C.THOMSON R.McCONNELL W.STEPHEN
GHA; G.MOLLISON J.CRAIG C.LONERGAN C.KING J.BAILLIE J.ANDERSON A.GILLMAN T.BROGAN H.CLARK S.FISHER A.BARNETT J.McCARTHY A.KERR D.EWING L.McCUTCHEON M.FOX F.FAULDS G.BAIRD R.FINDLAY R.O’KEEFE
REFEREE: MR G POUNDER
ASSISTANT REFEREES: MR C CLARK MR A PARRY