This was a very impressive performance from Accies, playing the biggest side we have faced for some seasons. It was clear from watching the opposition arriving that this was going to be a tough day. Could it be that the quality of diet is better in the South side of the city? However the sun was warm in the sky and there was a good atmosphere around New Anniesland, which was in its usual glorious condition..
As I have said Whitecraigs pack looked enormous as they arrived at New Anniesland and they had a few backs that looked as if they could play in the back row. So this reporter was, shall we say, concerned that this was going to be a big task for Accies and in particular for the forwards. Well within no time at all it was clear that the Accies pack was clearly the better unit and were dominating the set piece and disrupting their line-out.
Their big forwards were difficult to stop in the loose but Accies were not looking vulnerable. The backs were tackling well and the team looked well drilled and organised, which is a great compliment to the coaching team. It was after a solid period when Accies had been camped inside Whitecraigs half and after some great carrying from the forwards that quick ball was pounced on by scrum half, Adam Lowry, who released the players on the blind side and some superb handling and soft quick hands from 3 players, forwards and backs, released Kris Mathie to cross for the first try. A difficult conversion missed but Accies were certainly on top and looking in control at 5 – 0.
Whitecraigs are a good side that has been in National 2 for several years and are well drilled and coached. Their exceptionally large forwards were carrying well and proving difficult to put down. They demonstrated their abilities when with good carrying from their large forwards they worked themselves deep into Accies half and quick ball released the backs and Kris Mathie was faced with a 2 on 1 situation which he coped with superbly and managed to stop the move and then turn the ball over and Accies managed to clear the danger, finally with a superb kick from Cammy Wray. This was one of the few times that Whitecraigs had been in Accies 22 during the first 40 minutes and it was very much against the run of play that in the final minutes of the half that Whitecraigs got themselves into Accies 22 and from some work from their forwards score. This was converted from the touch line and so they went into half-time 5 - 7 ahead.
Half-time 5 – 7
Whitecraigs kicked off and Accies collected the ball and with a couple of strong carries they got the ball to the halfway line and Scott Briggs then burst onto the scene and with an incredible piece of hard running broke several tackles and beat two of the last defenders to score under the posts, a superb individual try. Gordon McGuire converted to take Accies into a 5 point lead at 12 – 7.
But this Whitecraigs side are experienced and always putting their opponents under pressure with hard running and heavy forwards. It was almost inevitable that a couple of missed tackles saw them take full advantage and they found their chance out wide on the right to level the score and with a superb conversion from wide out they took the lead again at 12 – 14. It now looked as if this was not going to be Accies day, but no one had told the Accies pack and with great work they faught themselves inside the opponents 22 and from a well-controlled line out the ensuing maul saw the ball moved to Ryan Sweeney who was not going to be denied. Another successful conversion from Gordon McGuire saw Accies ahead once again at 19 – 14. Surely this would now be consolidated and Accies could run out justified winners. Well from a scrum that Accies were dominating, it was wheeled through 90 degrees and as the ball popped out it landed in the hands of their back row forward and he took full advantage of this good luck and suddenly Whitecraigs were over under the posts and yes the conversion put them ahead 21 – 19.
It did seem that the rugby gods were working to deny Accies their deserved win but then Kris Mathie following up a kick ahead collected the bouncing ball to race past the final defenders to once again score under the posts, conversion put Accies 26 – 21 ahead. With only minutes left was this going to be the try that brought justice to the score line? Accies had dominated most of this game and really were due a victory but yes, Whitecraigs made the most of a messy situation and after Accies looked tired they missed a couple tackles allowing Whitecraigs to scored far out on the right. This conversion was missed and the teams were tied at 26 – 26.
The final whistle was blown and despite a herculean effort from Accies, which was worthy of a victory the players had proved that they are capable of moving forward from here.
Full-time 26 – 26
Accies performances over the past few weeks have demonstrated that this is a team capable of winning a lot of games and despite the injury list, still being too long, this squad of players that were playing at New Anniesland today, demonstrated that they are developing into a very good side. There is a very tough game next week against top of the table Biggar, away, and then two home games against Highland and Lasswade, I am sure the coaches will be greatly encouraged by today’s performance and their prospects for the upcoming games.
Each game sees an improvement in this side and once they get into an injury free run then it is this reporter’s view that wins will come and an improvement in our league position will ensue.