On an extremely windy day at The Pennypit, the home of Preston Lodge RFC, Accies started off with the strong wind at their backs, however it was clear from the kick off that they would struggle to take any advantage of the conditions and the opposition were a well drilled hard driving, experienced side. PL, as they like to be called, took full advantage of Accies failure to clear their lines from the kick off and with some hard running forwards they put Accies inexperienced side under early pressure. Their forwards were in the ascendancy from the start and having achieved possession early on they drove hard at the Accies defence and after a couple of missed tackles down the blind side they crossed for their first try after 3 minutes. It was not long until this well drilled side scored their second try to put them 12 – 0 ahead. Accies were looking shell shocked and like a team struggling to cope with the pressure being applied by this PL side.
The main problem seemed to be the ability of the PL first up forwards to break the first tackle then offload to the supporting players and thus get behind the Accies gain line. They were also getting very quick ball at the breakdown and thus managing to keep up the momentum of their game and keeping Accies on the back foot.
However Accies did find a way to keep themselves in the game and eventually pushed themselves, with good use of a penalty, which was kicked well into PL’s 22. From a drive off the ensuing lineout the forwards took the ball to within 5 metres of the PL line. The first attempt to cross the line, by Chris Goodfellow, just fell short but from the recycled ball Calum Duke drove over for the first Accies try. These were tough conditions for kickers and from out wide the conversion was just missed. Accies were, we thought back in the match 5 – 12.
However from the restart the ball was lost and the PL forwards recycled the ball and it was moved to their outstanding front row forward, their most effective forward on the pitch, who when he received the ball on halfway drove hard at the Accies defence, it appeared that two Accies tacklers had stopped him and were in fact attempting to hold him up and gain the turnover, he however managed to wriggle free and then run 50 metres to score under the posts, brushing aside several attempts to tackle him by the backs on his journey. 5 – 17.
At this point it seemed that PL could score at will, breaking the first line of defence and offloading to the support runners thus putting the Accies cover defence under tremendous pressure. It was however surprising that they only scored twice before half time and their lead was only 5 – 31. It was a very disappointing first half for the travelling support and I think there was a fear in their hearts that this could be a serious defeat.
Half – time 5 – 31
Accies kicked off the second half with the strong wind in their faces and the injury blight that has followed the team this season continuing. They had lost Jason Currie in the first minute and that was followed by the departure of Cammy Wray. By halfway through the second half Accies had used up all their subs. This did not dent the commitment and attitude of Accies players and the substitutes showed total commitment to the cause. They were keeping Preston Lodge at bay and denying them the opportunity to score.Then from a great break by Scott Simmons, supported by the back row and other backs, the ball was taken from deep inside their own half to within 5 metres of the opposition line and it was appropriate that Scott himself drove over for the opening try of the second half. Conversion by Gordon McGuire took the score to 12 – 31.
Preston Lodge are a well drilled, strong and experienced side and were clearly hurt by Accies try. PL have not been beaten at home and have scored some notable wins and they were clearly not happy at having let Accies back into the game. They went straight on the attack and were quickly back into Accies 22. Again strong forward driving brought its reward and they had nullified Accies comeback. 12 - 38
Accies seem to lose focus for a minute and PL were quick to take advantage and the ball was moved to their quality centre, who saw the opportunity and a simple break produced, as it proved to be their last score of the match, and their 5th try. 12 – 45.
Well to their credit Accies were sticking to their task and it was from the best move of the game, again from well inside their own 22 that a flowing passing move, with strong runs from Ryan Sweeney and Scott Simmons saw the new fullback, Gregor Macewen, who made an outstanding contribution for his first game, draw the last defender and put Andy Brown clear to romp home under the posts, and with a quick conversion by Gordon McGuire brought Accies to 19 points. 19 – 45
However at this point Accies had lost 3 front row players and the scrums had to go to uncontested which always disrupts a game. The second half had been drawn 14 all and some pride had been gained by this young Accies side.
Full – time 19 – 45
We are hopeful that some of the long list of unavailable players will be fit for next Friday nights massive clash with GHK, who are sitting 2 points ahead of us on 16. The absentees from today’s fixture include Hugh Lindsay, Ross Cowan, Kris Mathie, Chris Woods, Josh Waldin, Jack McCready, Scott Rodgers, Will Brown, Ker Malcolm, Tom McFarland, Scott Briggs, McKavanagh and Greg Valentine. Quite a list for any club to have and with Goodfellow, Mcgonigle, Wray and Currie all injures from Saturday the situation has not improved.
Saturday was a tough day at the office for Accies but it is to their credit that at 5 – 31 down and facing a fierce wind they could well have capitulated but they did not and came out of the second half with a 14 all draw. Hope springs eternal and this reporter is excited at the prospect of next Friday night under the floodlights at Old Anniesland.