On a cold and windy day Accies kicked off playing into a stiff wind blowing straight down the pitch. On top early on Accies were suffering in the conditions with a creasy ball and this was allowing Falkirk to stay with them giving them an opportunity to kick with the wind. From early on it was clear that Accies pack were on top, they were putting real pressure at the scrums and were stealing line out ball regularly. Their defence was also greatly improved and it was only after an easy made mistake that Falkirk took full advantage of the scrum in the middle of the pitch, on halfway, and from a quick heal the ball was released to probably the most dangerous player on the field, Falkirk’s strong and fast fullback and he, along with the right winger, beat the cover defence to add to the successful penalty, they had converted two minutes earlier, to score. Their scrum half proved to be a very good kicker who converted from out to the right to make the score 0 – 10.
Accies were clearly not unsettled by this and reasserted their dominance up front and it was only some handling errors that were stalling Accies effort and allowing this very experienced Falkirk side to keep Accies inside their own half for much of the 1st half. This is the 5th game of the season and we are still waiting to see the same 15 taking the pitch. This does create problems for the flow that a side needs and on Saturday the new back division that only had one training session together, that was struggling in these tough conditions. Individually they were giving it everything they could and showing what good players they are but, unsurprisingly, they were finding it difficult to combine as a unit.
However it was after a good simple flowing movement with backs and forwards, that took the game into the Falkirk 22 and when the ball was shifted again, after the initial movement was stopped, that a high tackle stopped Accies scoring and the referee immediately awarded a penalty try and yellow carded the guilty Falkirk player. The score was now 7 – 10 and it was anyone’s game to win. This gave a boost to Accies and they were clearly well in this game despite the strong wind in their faces. However another kick into Accies 22 from Falkirk resulted in a ruck where the referee deemed that Accies fullback Kris Mathie had held onto the ball, which it has to be said was a very tough call. Falkirk’s reliable kicker made no mistake with the simple kick.
Half – time 7 – 13
The second half kick-off and Falkirk were clearly looking for a quick start. However today the Accies defence was superb and the pack were well on top. I would say this was an unusual game in that it was the very hard running, well drilled Falkirk back division who were keeping their team in the match despite their pack getting a lesson in the tight. Their half-backs had used the wind well in the first half and were using what little ball their pack were supplying to good use against the wind. Accies forwards were driving their opponents off the ball at the scrums and disrupting their opponents line out and it was from superb maul ball it was moved to the blind side and a superb sprint home from Jack McCready saw him crossed the line, out wide on the right. Tough conversion missed so Accies were now only 1 point behind their opponents, and looking very capable of scoring again. 12 - 13
The travelling support were now thinking that this could be our day, but a couple of simple mistakes allowed Falkirk into Accies 22 and some good back play saw the ball in the hands of their hard running centre who scampered over to the right of the posts and the inevitably successful conversion saw the difference go back to an 8 point lead 12 – 20.
With only 15 minutes of the game remaining it was Accies who were still working very hard for the result. From a period of great work by the ball carrying forwards it was the superb Erland Oag who ran a clever line in the centre and showing real determination and strength broke the first line of defence and scampered clear. Despite several desperate attempts to stop him he was not going to be deprived of his try, which was just to the right of the posts and this time Cammy Wray’s conversion was successful and it brought Accies once again to within 1 point at 19 – 20.
Could Accies do it and score something in the final 5 minutes? Despite some great effort and pressure on the Falkirk line they came away with nothing. It was not to be and to add insult to injury young Harry Briggs was knocked out as he attempted to carry the ball over the line but was tackled just short and in the ensuing ruck received a kick to the head. Having been out cold for a few minutes there was no question but he had to go to hospital, a sad end for a player who gave everything, as usual, to the cause.
Full-time 19 - 20
So the final whistle was blown and a game that Accies could well have won was lost and they only had 1 point for all their terrific efforts. There are some seriously good areas of the game for Accies to look at, with their pack showing signs of developing into a very good unit and a half back partnership that could really get the side into winning mode. Individually the backs look strong and determined but just need a little longer working together. So this side has had a truly difficult start to the season, with an unfair number of injuries and players unavailable, but there are positive signs and they have a great deal to build on. Next week sees Whitecraigs visit New Anniesland and I am sure the coaches and players will be up to turn things around.