Accies clearly enjoy their return to New Anniesland

Saturday 17th February 2018


Our visitors today, Haddington, have not had a good season and are fighting to avoid relegation.  However, they came out onto the firm New Anniesland pitch looking every bit a competent side and determined to get something from today’s encounter. It was therefore clear that to win this game Accies were going to have to be sharp and clinical.  The Accies support was pleased to see the return of Josh Waldin, who was on the bench, at scrum half, but we were still missing the experience of the unavailable Ruaridh Wilson in the second row.

We played in the first half with a strong breeze at our backs palying towards the clubhouse and as the first half progressed this was to prove very useful. Within five minutes of the kick off, a good line kick took play close to their line. Their forwards appeared to fumble the ball from the ensuing lineout and the ever alert hooker Greg Valentine pounced on the loose ball to score.

Conversion missed from out wide.                                                          Accies 5 – Haddington 0

Both sides were clearly prepared to move the ball wide but both defences looked well organised. Nevertheless, after some sustained pressure in the midfield the ball was worked up to within 10 metres of the Haddington line, and from the ensuing ruck the hard working second row kane Greggain picked up and used his explosive power to drive over under the posts for a well-earned try.

19 minutes gone, Loomes converted.                                                        Accies 12 – Haddington 0

Within five minutes we were in a similar position through good combined backs and forwards interplay. From the ruck again on the stand side, wing forward Hugh Lindsay saw a gap and broke two tackles to barge over for the third try.

Loomes was successful with the tricky conversion.                                    Accies 19 – Haddington 0

The Accies support was beginning to relax and was clearly expect a high scoring first half. However, this was not to be. Some hard tackling by Accies in the midfield was putting pressure on Haddington and although they were getting plenty of ball they could not make any real progress. They were certainly not going to be rolled over, their backs had some decent pace and the crowd were struggling to understand why they were not further up the league table. Accies were using the wind well, with some good field kicking from Jamie Loomes and Ross Cowan which kept Haddington pinned back. The balance of the first half contained several handling errors from both sides and there was frustratingly no further score.

                                           Half -time: –   Accies 19 – Haddington 0

Two minutes after the restart, the forwards had set up good ruck ball five yards from the ‘popular’ side touch line, 30m out from their line.  Scrum half  Josh Waldin broke blind and set up centre Gordon McGuire who, with virtually no space to work with on the touchline, ran straight through the first tackle but still had to turn on the pace to beat a further two tackles and burst through to score in the corner for the most creative try so far in the afternoon. Try bonus point achieved.

Difficult conversion, from out wide, just sliding past the far post.      Accies 24 – Haddington 0

Haddington continued to move the ball around through their eager backs but some very effective tackling prevented any serious breakthroughs. Ten minutes into the second half, from another well engineered ruck more or less from the kick off, producing good quick ball 30m from their line, the ever alert Waldin again broke blind, drawing the defence and sent a huge pass out to the Swede, Freddie Enstad, on the wing, who used sheer pace and his deceptive power to burst through two tackles to make a well worked try in the corner.

Again, conversion from out wide just sliding past the far post.      Accies 29 – Haddington 0

Only five minutes later, some strong broken play 35 yards out saw wing forward PJ Rankin on the blind side burst through three tackles and just as he was about to be stopped, slipped a lovely flick pass to the supporting second row Kane Greggain who pinned his ears back and had enough pace over 25m to just slip two flailing tackles to make it for a very exciting try, and a good lesson in forward support work.

Stand off Loomes made the conversion.                                                    Accies 36 – Haddington 0

This scribe continued to be impressed by the ambition of the  Haddington backs, who tried to move the ball out and use this wide pitch to good advantage, but just couldn’t break down the resolute Accie tackling.  Our forwards and backs were linking well, taking their opportunities and this was maybe the difference.  After only five more minutes, we were pressing their line with some good forward driving play which saw the industrious wing forward PJ Rankin power his way over near the posts for a well deserved try.

Change of kicker, Ross Cowan converted.                                                Accies 43 – Haddington 0

Haddington won good ball from the restart and eventually made a telling 50 m kick with the breeze into touch just inside Accies 22. However a quick throw in gave winger Kris Mathie plenty of space to make good ground back up the pitch only to be stopped 30m from the Haddington line. Good strong support play produced quick ball to stand off Loomes who had clearly been watching too much of the irish 10, Johnny Sexton, on TV, as he stroked a beautifully weighted kick to the far side where Ross Cowan took a great catch in the air, and although he was stopped, managed to feed the ball to the support who made two further short passed for the very mobile hooker Greg Valentine to go over for a speculative champagne try.

Ten yards in from touch, Loomes made the difficult conversion.               Accies 50 – Haddington 0

Surely there was gong to be more from Accies, but Haddington refused to lie down.  Handling errors from both sides caused a staccato 15 minutes run up to nearly full time. However, Haddington then burst through the centre of the field at the half way and despite good Accie covering defence,  produced what they had failed to do all game,  link forwards and backs in a well worked move across to the stand side with the winger going over in the corner following  quick ruck ball on Accies 22..  Although this was a consolation try, it was a good one.

Difficult wide out conversion, missed.                                               Accies 50 – Haddington 5

Within minutes of the restart, full time was called.

Full time:-     Accies 50 – Haddington 5

There is definitely more to come from this creative Accie side where the industrious and fast back row are combining well with the half backs causing threats in every area and giving our quick backs the room they thrive on. This was a good display with plenty still to improve upon, before our testing away match next week on the ‘back’ pitch at Murrayfield against Murrayfield Wanderers. We remain in charge of our destiny.

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