Accies run Stew Mel close with a superb 2nd half performance
On a cold, wet and windy afternoon Accies welcomed Stewarts Melville Rugby Club back, after far too long an absence, to a beautifully prepared pitch at New Anniesland.
Stew Mel are an exciting team and have a tradition of playing open and attractive rugby and are currently sitting 3rd in National League 2. So it was no surprise that they started the game with some hard running from their very big pack and good ball transference through their backs. Accies defence was solid and although they were dominating possession, after 20 minutes, Stu Mel had nothing to show for their dominance except a simple penalty on the 10 minute mark.
Both sides were trying to play open rugby in what were atrocious weather conditions so it was not surprising that there were a great many scrums as a result of knock-ons. Neither side were getting dominance at this part of the game, although it has to be said that the heavier Ste Mel pack did look somewhat more comfortable on their own put in.
However after 22 minutes of fairly constant pressure the Stew Mel Full-back took a ball 10 metres from the line and went between the two defenders to score wide out. Conversion missed but Accies now behind by 0 – 8.
Accies now had their best spell in the first half and spent some time inside their opponents 22. Unfortunately a couple of knock-ons allowed Stu Mel to escape losing any points. However Accies were demonstrating an ability to put their opponents under pressure.
A second penalty allowed Stu Mel to get themselves back into Accies territory and from what must be said was the best move, by either side, in the game they moved the ball from one side of the pitch to the other and then back again with a very fluid movement, that any club side would be pleased with, which gave their left winger and easy touch down out wide again. Conversion missed and Stew Mel were now 13 points ahead with 8 minutes of the half remaining. 0 – 13
Accies were very clearly still in this contest and ended the first half much stronger. A clever catch and chip ahead from the energetic Kris Mathie was chased down by himself and Gregor Macewen. Macewen appeared to collect the ball and was stopped just short of the line, but referee Sam O’Neil adjudged that there had been a knock-on, foiled again.
Half – time 0 – 13
The chatter in the busy stand was all about what would come next. Would Accies take heart from the last 5 minutes of the first half or would Stu Mel keep up their dominance of possession?
Well the wondering was soon over because Accies forwards took a real grip of proceedings from the kick off and did not let up for the next 40 minutes. They started to drive at their opponents and pin them back into their half and totally dominated most areas of play. It should be said that the Stu Mel defence was outstanding but they were having to use illegal tactics to stop the flow of Accies rugby. This was demonstrated by the penalty count in the second half which was Stu Mel 13 to Accies 0. Despite this, Accies did cross the whitewash; when Ross Cowan took an inside pass to cross in the corner; however the touch judge noticed the foot of Kris Mathie had crossed the touchline – no try! It was only after the 10th penalty that the referee decided to take action and yellow card the offender, a bit late to alter the result. Accies duly went back onto the attack and the hard work of the forwards was rewarded with a try by hooker Tadgh Power. Unfortunately the conversion slipped past the upright but Accies were on the board. 5 – 13.
There were only 5 minutes left and despite another spell of pressure on the Sew Mel line Accies could not get another try. However with the light fading Stew Mel’s 12th penalty was duly converted by Gordon McGuire to bring Accies to within 5 points of their opponents.
Accies dominated the second half and were certainly worth more than the 8 points and a losing bonus they got. Some superb defence and disruption of the flow of the game allowed Stewarts Melville to go back through to Edinburgh with the 4 points.
Full – time 8 – 13
Accies are improving every game and I am sure that they are capable of toppling some big guns this season. But just to let you know how hard they worked here are another bunch of superb photos courtesy of Bob Johnstone.