“We will be looking, as always, to improve our game by increasing our accuracy and precision in all our tasks across the park”. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen uttered those words after his side beat our “Boys in Red” on Saturday evening, but they might just as well have been uttered by Coups after our own performance on Saturday, even if we did win by a handsome margin. We’re coming on to a game, of that there is no doubt, but it’s not yet perfect!
From the off, Lenzie started with real intent and attacked us with conviction and determination: good, strong defence from us in the early stages kept them out however. Eventually we worked the ball into Lenzie territory and when the referee indicated a penalty advantage to Accies, Loomsy took the initiative and stuck a superb drop goal to get the scoreboard underway. 3-0
But the opposition came straight back at us and were awarded a penalty at the ten metre line. Their ever active number 7 took a quick tap and ran straight at our hooker. Despite the discrepancy in size Jason made a superb hit and put the player on his back. “Great tackle” was the cry from the cheering stand, but Mr Summers decided that he had in fact lifted the player through the horizontal and dumped him, so out popped the yellow card and off went our hooker, much to his and many of the crowds dismay. But this set back only seemed to galvanise Accies and whilst defending their own line, they put real pressure on a Lenzie ruck, turned over and broke up the park. With the ball moving through the hands of both backs and forwards, we went over in the left hand corner. With the difficult conversion missed, it was suddenly 8-0.
We were then treated to 25 minutes of superb rugby, with every player in a blue and white shirt demonstrating their ability to run, pass and support. They were attacking the Lenzie defence from all areas of the field and every time the boys got the ball, we looked dangerous. 7 tries resulted and all special in their own way. It was even heard from the stand that this was the best “support” rugby seen at Anniesland for a long time. The ability and willingness to attack with ball in hand from all sections of the park was genuinely entertaining – unless you’d travelled from Bishopbriggs of course!
This period, indeed the half, culminated in a great try scored after an impressive break from Sam (playing this week at 8). In our 22 he broke the first line of defence and careered up the pitch like a scalded cat, then required a breather with just 10m to go. This allowed the covering defence to pull him to the ground but he popped the ball with precision and great timing for Hem to steal his try. In fairness, our prop had done fantastically well to “get there” ahead of 3 or 4 support players and nobody, least of all Sam, begrudged him his score.
It was a scintillating 25 minutes of rugby and Accies went into the break 44-0 up and the crowd was buzzing with anticipation for what was going to come in the second half.
A happy coach decided that he would take the opportunity to rest some players and made substitutions, so Coups pulled off Sam and Loomsy to give both Chris Rhodes and Greg Valentine a chance. Accies are blessed with some real depth to their squad this season so this was a perfect opportunity for the coach to see what both could do: interestingly, with Ker at openside this week (and making a wonderful nuisance of himself all game) this meant we now had a back row featuring two hookers!
It always takes a little time for teams to resettle after all the changes and so it proved. Lenzie clearly felt this was their opportunity to capitalize and score some points. Despite the disruption at lineout and scrums, Accies defence stood firm and after Lewis joined the front row battle and Ben returned at scrum half after his long absence through injury, the game gradually returned to the familiar, first half pattern.
Particularly strong defensive work well inside Accies territory saw a great breakout and movement up field with Nifty scampering over for a try in familiar mode. Chris’s first kick was successful from out on the touchline and we were starting to find our groove again at 51-0.
Another 4 superb tries were scored in the final quarter of the game and, much to the delight of all in the stand, the pick of the bunch came from Ker: hitting a running line any pro would have been proud of, he collected a well weighted pass from Ben off the back of a ruck on the half-way line, ran like a banshee for 40m and then splashed down with no one coming close.
That said, Lenzie never gave up: the forwards are a “heavy-weight” outfit, their 2 flankers are both “robust” and lively, and they play to these strengths. But, in truth, their efforts weren’t quite matched by those of their back division on Saturday: we ran them ragged for 80 minutes, and this was perhaps encapsulated late on when, another loose clearance kick from Lenzie was gathered by our back 3, some slick handling followed and resulted in Ross bagging his hat-trick for the afternoon. This brought the score to 79-0 and so it ended.
MOTM:- Without our pocket dynamo, (sitting in the stand having a well-earned Saturday off), his stand-in had a very tough act follow. But follow he did, and given all that was before him, he excelled: so take a bow Master Ker Malcolm, you “done good” and rightly got his first MOTM award for an great all-round performance.
REF WATCH: Mr Summers is a good ref, and we all know that. He’s up with play, he’s generally pretty clear in his decision making and he communicates well with players. But a 31/2 minute lecture (yes, it was timed) to the Lenzie front-row for their shenanigans in the first scrum was as unnecessary as it was pointless, particularly as he didn’t actually take any action after all the various offences that had occurred! It was like watching Steve Walsh preening himself in front of the tv cameras. He also got Jason’s yellow wrong – even the die-hards in the Lenzie support didn’t see a lift beyond the horizontal! And he needs to work on his “spacial awareness” too! There were numerous examples of Lenzie (quite rightly) taking quick taps at penalties: but when a penalty is awarded well inside the Lenzie half, don’t march the opposition past their 10m line because they hadn’t retreated 10 – it just gets players and supporters “narked”. That said, it wasn’t a bad day at the office when taken over the full 80, and for that he receives a very positive 7.5/10 from this scribe.
PS: great to welcome Charles Jackson and his cohort from Viewfield – gentlemen, one and all, to a fault even! We look forward to the return fixture at the end of Feb. And as for “The Boys from Eindhoven” who joined us on the day for a “cultural experience” during their Glaswegian “sojourn”, all we can say is, you’re all welcome any time guys!