Tennent’s National League Division 2
Glasgow Accies v Newton Stewart
Played on 7th September 2019 at New Anniesland
Today’s match was played in glorious sunshine and on a playing surface that would be the pride of any club in Scotland and a credit to the groundsman, Robert Cheape and his staff. They should be very proud of the magnificent pitch that the two teams enjoyed today.
It was a real pleasure to welcome one of the most hospitable and friendly club sides in Scotland to New Anniesland and it has always proved to be a close encounter whether here or down at Bladnoch Park and so it proved today.
Accies came out of the traps and demonstrated the flowing rugby that they are always trying to play. However it was clear that the boys from Newton Stewart were equally determined to stop them and when a ball was spilled they immediately put Accies under pressure with hard driving forwards and some well-placed kicks. Newton Stewart had the majority of possession and territory in the first 30 minutes and were camped inside Accies half for long stretches. However Accies were not helping themselves by giving away too many penalties which allowed the opposition to pin them back inside their 22. Despite this it has to be said that Accies defence throughout this game was superb and repelled most of efforts by the Newton Stewart side to break them down.
The pattern of play in the first half seemed to be that Accies would defend then break out, put together some good passages of play only for the final pass to be intercepted or dropped, or the player about to pass would lose control and the opposition then would work the ball back into Accies danger zone. In one of these passages of play the Newton Stewart stand-off found himself up against a forward and a quick side-step saw him over the line. The conversion was missed but Accies were now behind in what look like a game that would yield few points. 0 - 5
Accies went on the attack but again a penalty allowed their opponents to push them back into their own half. The game had become very fragmented with too many stops and starts which seemed to break up the rhythm of both teams so neither side was able to get on top. With about 5 minutes to go today’s referee indicated a penalty just outside Accies 22 and this time the conversion was successful. 0 – 8
With the first half drawing to a close the referee signalled a scrum just inside Accies half with Accies having the put in. Throughout this encounter Accies had secured their own put in. The ball was moved to the back of the scrum and No.8, Tommy Spinks, pick up and having broken the first defenders tackle he carried the ball into the opposition 22, from the ensuing ruck the ball was moved superbly along the backs and this time the final pass stuck and Ross Cowan crossed for Accies first points. This reporter believes that that will be one of the tries of the season come April! Up stepped Gregor Macewan who converted from out wide and Accies were once again back in the game and fighting for points. 7 – 8
This had been a half of “what if’s” and Accies were clearly showing great heart and commitment in a game that was being dominated by the defences.
Half – time 7 – 8
There were murmurings around the stand that it is always a good thing to score just before half-time, well clearly nobody said anything about that to the Newton Stewart players who went at Accies with renewed vigour straight from the kick off and with some good handling the ball was moved to their fullback who step inside the last defender and crossed for Newton Stewarts second try. Again the conversion slipped past the right hand post to leave them still within striking range. 7 - 13
The game was going from end to end with Accies backs looking very dangerous but it seemed that elusive last pass went astray or they got isolated. Their efforts however were rewarded with a penalty 30 metres out which Gregor Macewan duly converted to bring them back to within 3 points. 10 – 13
With this end to end rugby it was Newton Stewart’s turn to go on the attack and it should be said that Accies showed real heart and commitment to stop several waves of determined opponent’s forward drives. That heart and attitude will stand this team well in the coming months. However despite several superb breaks Accies could just not find the answer. In fact after Newton Stewart had been pressurising Accies line a good piece of work by Matt Holland to rob the ball from one of these charges saw it recycled on our own line and moved superbly along the backs and Ronan Joy on the wing scampering down to inside the opponents half. With Ross Cowan inside him and clear, one more pass and Ross would be over, however the tackler managed to dislodge the ball from Ronan Joy’s hand as he looked for the supporting player and the momentum and chance were lost. Accies kept up the tempo and were finally awarded a penalty which they decided to kick into the corner. Line-out lost chance gone and time ticking by. However another opportunity was presented when they were awarded a second penalty, this time in front of the posts. The Captain, Chris Johnstone, decided to at least go for the 3 points and the draw. Gregor duly converted and it was all square. 13 – 13
There was no time for either side to mount a serious attack and a simple knock-on saw the referee blow for fulltime. In truth neither side deserved to lose or win the game. It was a very competitive encounter, where neither side were going to give an inch. Two teams that defended till they dropped, worked tirelessly throughout the 80 minutes to play rugby and ended up with neither on top. There were clearly signs that this was the first game of the season and a great deal of work will have to be done by players and coaches over the coming weeks. Newton Stewart will be a tough side to beat when they are in this mood and they will be a good addition to National 2 rugby. I know the Accies players are already looking forward to the return fixture if not the bus trip.
Full – time 13 - 13
The first encounters in this year’s National 2 campaign have shown that it is going to be a fascinating and very tough season and that there is going to be very little between top and bottom sides.
Next week the boys travel to Peebles and they will be preparing for a very tough encounter.
I have said so many times that I am becoming boring (not for the first time I hear many say) that support home and in particular away really helps the players and their game head!