ACCIES TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF THE
WIDE SPACES AT NEW ANNIESLAND
This was the clash of two of the top three sides in our league and with both teams having shown in the first seven games of the season that they wanted to play total rugby, a great match was anticipated. Great credit is due to Robert Cheape and his staff for having the pitch in near perfect condition despite the horrendous weather we have been having and especially torrential rain of Friday night and earlier in the morning.
Accies started off, playing away from the clubhouse, were clearly up for the encounter. The ball was spun wide from the start and ground was being gained. Accies were awarded a penalty 5 metres inside the Murrayfield half, but a loose tongue was caught by referee Robert McHenry’s ear and it was advanced 10 metres. Well inside Stewart Gray’s range. 3 – 0
The weather was now dry and Accies were taking full advantage of what were now good playing conditions. They were probing with forward surges and some quick backs handling. It was from an initial surge by Accies side stepping prop, Jason Currie, that started the next try. When he was stopped he offloaded to the ever present Ruiradh ‘Rob Roy’ Wilson who took the ball well into the Wanderers half, quick ball saw two superbly timed passes and the ball was in Ross Cowan’s hands. Ross accelerated between the centres and outside the fullback to score a memorable try in the left hand corner, which brought the good sized support to their feet! A great start but could Accies keep this up? Tough conversion missed 8 – 0
The pace was fantastic and both sides were contributing to a great spectacle for all the travelling and home support. It wasn’t long, however, before the home crowd had more to celebrate. Accies had worked their way back into the Wanderers 22 from the kick off and were awarded a scrum 15 metres out. A solid scrum platform allowed the explosive No 8 Ryan Sweeney to pick up and going blind he drew the first defenders onto him and offloaded to Adam Lowrie to skip past the outstretched hands of the last Wanderers defender to score Accies second. Again tough wide out conversion missed 13 – 0
Wanderers are clearly a well drilled side that have a big pack and every one of them knew how to carry the ball and support. They were testing Accies defence close to the base or in the middle of the backs. They also had a set of lively backs who given an inch could clearly have taken the proverbial mile.
Wanderers forwards collected a very good kick off and with some good support and running they worked themselves into Accies 22 metre area for the first time. An infringement at the breakdown offered an easy penalty for their quality 10. 13 – 3
Could this be the moment that the visitors were going to get back into this encounter?
Accies kicked off and the ball went deep into the Wanderers half which was collected by their number 8 and he drove the ball back at the advancing Accies forwards. When the advance was stopped the ball was recycled and their scrum half hoisted a clearance kick towards halfway. The ball was collected by, the ever lively, winger Jack McCready who immediately set Ross Cowan off on a massy run down the touchline. He got into the 22 and when he was stopped he offloaded to the returning, Hugh Lindsay who romped over and in behind the posts (maybe to help with the conversion!) Conversion successful 20 – 3
Accies were playing the game with speed and confidence, ball in hand, or when they were defending. Wanderers were clearly committed and were making Accies work for everything they got. However after some typical flowing rugby, Accies worked their way into the Wanderers 22 and some superb quick passes, involving forwards and backs, saw Ruiradh Wilson cross for a great 15 man try. It is always a great sight to watch all 15 players passing and running with the ball and it was only fitting that it was a forward who crossed the whitewash.
Jamie Loomes was successful from his wrong side. 27 – 3
The last few minutes of the first half was somewhat quieter than the start and so after a few forward encounters it came to an end.
Half-time 27 – 3
The players went into their huddles and the respective coaches got to work on their charges. I am sure that Andrew and Ross would be telling their players that they should look out for all-out attack from their opponents and that they were still in the game. So it was no surprise that from the kick off Wanderers started playing with renewed confidence and aggression. Another superb kick off was stolen by the Wanderers pack and they worked it into the Accies danger zone. A penalty was awarded and the ball was put into the 5 metre zone. After several well executed driving mauls the referee decide that Accies had taken down the maul illegally and awarded a penalty try. Conversion successful 27 – 10
Wanderers were now getting more of the ball and the crowd could clearly see why they had only lost one game (narrowly) so far this season. It was down to some superb Accie defence that was thwarting them from putting more points on the board. In fact, Accies defence was as much a feature of this tough encounter as their attack, as very few first time tackles were missed. Wanderers had really raised their game and were inside Accies 22, however a penalty allowed them the opportunity to relieve the pressure.
It was from a superb tackle and a subsequent knock on that Accies moved the ball first to the stand side and then open to the far side of the pitch and Jamie Loomes decided this was the moment to stamp his authority on the game and two side steps later saw him romp home under the posts. Conversion successful 34 – 10
There were a couple of enforced changes but this did not affect the Accies game plan or commitment. Accies were still playing high quality rugby and seemed to be upping their accuracy and pace. From another solid scrum just outside Wanderers 22 , well over to the right, we all watched in admiration as Accies back division executed, superbly, a simple three pass move. I say simple, but the ball was passed by Jamie Loomes who put Stewart Gray (12) going forward at pace, he then sent out a, beautifully weighted, long pass which saw the fast moving Ross Cowan enter the move from fullback, and he found himself in a gap the size of the Grand Canyon, but without missing a beat, he drew the last defender and time his pass with the same accuracy as the previous two, to put Chris Woods into the corner. This scribe’s description of what was one of the crispest and most professional tries that I have witnessed at New Anniesland, will never do it justice! Conversion missed 39 – 10
As can so often happen when a game has been played at the tempo that this one had been, it became somewhat becalmed, and clearly was lacking the vibrancy of the first 70 minutes. However two penalties saw the Wanderers with a lineout on Accies 5 metres line. A good quality line–out was driven, once again, and then a three man pod was released and drove over for the last points of the game. Conversion good 39 – 17
Full-time 39 – 17
This was one of Accies best performances this season and a bonus point was a just reward for all the effort that was on display at New Anniesland. The game was perhaps best summed up when , with only minutes of the game to go a Wanderers player set off down the touchline in front of the stand and with a tackle that could be felt well down Helensburgh Drive, saw Ryan Sweeney drive him 5 metres backwards.
Next week sees Accies travel to another tough game in Inverness and would welcome any supporters who wish to travel with the team to Highland. Please get behind this team and be part of what is becoming a season to remember.