Saturday saw the unusual sight of players and supporters of both sides arriving for a 1pm kick-off. This early kick off time was to afford those who wished to travel to the national stadium to watch the Autumn International time to travel through. The match offered the opportunity for Accies to add further to their points and assist their league position. For the home side, there was the opportunity to build on last week’s recovery at Musselburgh and to test themselves against one of the best sides in the League. The weather before the match was quite pleasant with a very slight breeze, mild conditions and no rain. The pitch was in good condition despite recent rains in the area. Both teams went through a number of drills and specific moves. As the Junior section provided a guard of honour to the sides, the weather began to deteriorate. A sharper wind developed, and dark brooding clouds began to produce rain which made the surface greasy and the ball increasingly difficult to hold. A reasonable crowd had assembled by the start of the match and there was a shock in store for the Braidholm faithful immediately. GHA kicked into the Accies half, the ball was gathered and moved through hands towards the GHA Half. Ben Appleson (who controlled much of the Accies plays and moves all afternoon) timed his pass well and suddenly gaps appeared in the GHA defence line as Wallace and McVie combined to easily stride through tackles and allow McVie to power through to score. The try was converted by Vincent Hart (who would punish GHA mistakes all afternoon) and after only one minute the score was GHA 0 EDINBURGH ACCIES 7. Such an early score clearly gave an already confident Accies side a further boost in contrast to the home side, who had to try and overcome such a wounding setback so early in the match.

For the next five minutes GHA fought hard to establish a foothold in the match with good work from Messrs McCuthcheon, Baird, Drummond,  Dixon and Hyde moving the ball into the visitors half and looking to penetrate a strong defence. As we moved towards the tenth minute, the home side seemed to have overcome their horror start and were asking questions of the visitors’ defensive line as play moved towards the Accies ten-metre line. There was the feeling that the home side were putting in a lot of effort around the Accies ten-metre area but could not quite find a path through a competent and well organised defence. As we entered the fifteenth minute, Accies -having coped with the efforts of the home side- began to build a platform to attack GHA. Both sides exchanged several kicks into space before- inspired by Messrs Afshar and Appleson- the visitors back-line ran through the home defence and managed to drop the ball with the line gaping. This was to happen several times in the match to Accies players even when they had crossed the line and it seemed easier to score. The ease with which Accies bypassed GHA tackles was a cause of real concern as the usually dependable and effective tackling from the home side was often not in evidence on this Saturday. As a result, Accies began to run all sorts of moves, feints, chips through, masked passes and kicks all of which put GHA on the back foot. GHA gave away a penalty inside their half and Vincent Hart punished the home side with a lovely kick which made the score after sixteen minutes: GHA 0 EDINBURGH ACCIES 10. The home side restarted the match and soon found the ball returned with interest by Accies. GHA failed to find touch, and this presented the visitors with the ball time after time throughout the match. Thus, what had hopefully been a relieving kick from Accies pressure simply gave the ball back to the visiting side who then built another attacking platform to threaten the home side. Such basic failures by the home side gave the visitors a strong advantage throughout the match. Brave efforts by a combination of GHA forwards and backs drove the Edinburgh side back into their own half as we reached the twenty fifth minute. 

Superb drives and support by Drummond, Johnston, Graham and McCuthcheon forced the visitors to desperately scramble to cover inside their five-metre area but at the crucial moment the home side knocked the ball forward. As we headed for the twenty sixth minute more good work which forced the visitors to defend deep inside their twenty-two metre area was undone with a loose pass which immediately gave the initiative back to the Accies side. Appleson and Gossman engineered their way through the GHA defence and were stopped inside the GHA ten-metre area. The visitors were awarded a penalty and again Vincent Hart kicked a superb penalty to add to the score which after twenty-seven minutes was now: GHA 0 EDINBURGH ACCIES 13. Tremendous hard work had allowed the home side to take the game to Accies and pressure was asking questions of the visitors. At the crucial moment GHA basics had let them down and Accies had managed to move comfortably away from their own half. As we reached the half hour mark, Accies were able to run the ball gathered from a kick through by GHA through the home defence, to score from an initial striking position inside the GHA ten-metre area. The try was converted and the score was now GHA 0  EDINBURGH ACCIES 20. The home side looked dispirited and were struggling to prevent Accies cutting loose and running up a big score. To their credit, the home side began to pull together and some great support work from Fox, Dixon, McCutcheon, and Callaghan put some progress together and allowed Kyle Dixon to take quick ball and timing his pass put Fergus Johnston in at the corner to huge cheers from the home support. A difficult conversion by Chris Hyde just failed and the score was GHA 5 EDINBURGH ACCIES 20. This score showed clearly that effective execution of the basics will lead to rewards and clearly lifted the home side. As we moved towards the interval, again the hard work of the home side was undone by failure to clear lines and give possession of the ball to Accies. The visitors moved the ball with relish over the halfway line and into the GHA ten-metre area. However, as the ball went to ground in the tackle by the GHA defence, a penalty was awarded to the home side just on half-time. Despite a distance of about seventy yards Chris Hyde hit a beautiful conversion to add three points to the GHA score. The score at half time was: GHA 8 EDINBURGH ACCIES 20.

It had been a frustrating and difficult first half for GHA. Most of their difficulties, it has to be said, were self-inflicted. A catalogue of mistimed and missed tackles, errant clearance kicks, fumbles, knock ons, and an array of penalties given away had made it easier for the visitors to take control of large periods of the half.

The visitors kicked off the second half and a high long kick was gathered by the GHA rear-guard but the resultant kick did not find touch and simply gave the ball to an assured Accies back line who in turn, hammered the ball into touch at the GHA five-metre line. The visitors took the lineout ball and drove hard at the GHA line. The home side conceded a penalty and from a simple kick to the flag, the visitors took the ball from the lineout and drove over to score. Vincent Hart completed the immediate damage with a beautiful conversion to make the score after just a couple of minutes of the half: GHA 8 EDINBURGH ACCIES 27. Yet another shell shock for all of a Braidholm persuasion.

The annoying thing for the home support was that throughout this match the real GHA would emerge putting together some fine passages of play and asking questions of the visitors. Rather than simply folding, the home side renewed their efforts from the restart. It was now very wet which made handling the ball difficult. Play moved back and forth across the ten-metre areas until Dario Ewing whose customary skill, commitment and endeavour never wanes in any match, burst through the startled Accies defence inside the visitors twenty-two metre area. Dario was stopped and attempts to recycle the ball and continue the move were stifled by a loose pass. This time the GHA forwards were quick to seize possession and as Accies found themselves on the back foot, great collective work by Messrs Ewing, Falconer and Pacha saw Aaron go over for his first try for the Braidholm club. Chris Hyde converted and the score after around thirteen minutes was now: GHA 15 EDINBURGH ACCIES 27.

This fine accurate execution of basic skills had punched a hole through a very comfortable Accies rear guard, and it gave quite a fillip to the home side and indeed their supporters in the stand. Whether the home side could maintain this accuracy would be revealed shortly. Accies took the game straight to GHA on the restart and after an exchange of loose kicks, the very hardworking Euan Mcvie made a break out of his own half only to be stopped in his tracks by a tackle from Walker Graham.  Play moved across the halfway line as both sides fought to overcome the driving rain and gloomy conditions. GHA were fighting hard to establish equality in the battle and for the first time in the match Accies found themselves having to work very hard to make any progress. In increasingly unpleasant conditions, as we passed the twentieth minute of the half, play became rather untidy and scrappy. At this critical time in the match, the home side were penalised on halfway and the very cool Ben Appleson put in a smashing kick right into the GHA five-metre area to the delight of the visiting support. In a measured and organised take and drive from the lineout, Accies drove over and broke off to score in the corner as missed tackles sealed GHA’s fate. A superb kick from Vincent Hart sailed through the posts to make the score after around twenty-six minutes: GHA 18 EDINBURGH ACCIES 34. There then followed some scrappy play around the ten-metre areas as both sides adapted to driving rain and a chilly wind. Accies did manage to put a passage of play together and putting the ball through hands seemed to have run through the home defence and head for the line only to be pulled back for a foot in touch. As we moved into the final minutes of the match, GHA put together some good passages of play led by Dario Ewing and Luca Bardelli. Accies stopped the GHA forward movement but conceded a penalty. From the penalty, play moved up to outside the Accies twenty-two metre area. Great collective work by King, McCuthcheon and Faulds forced Accies on to the backfoot. The ball went loose and a scrum was awarded to GHA. As we moved towards the end of the match, a huge surge by Drummond and King looked to drive a hole through the retreating Accies rear guard. The ball went loose again and a scrum was called. From the scrum the ball went loose and Chris Hyde made a superb pick up and made yardage deep into the Accies half. Chris drew his opponent and laid a lovely pass off to the supporting Luke McCutcheon who powered through to score. Chris Hyde converted the try as the match ended. The final score was: GHA 25 EDINBURGH ACCIES 34.

A disappointing match and result for the home side. They produced flashes of their true selves and during those flashes put points on the board.  However missed tackles, fumbles, misdirected kicks, failing clearance kicks and a rash of conceded penalties constantly put the home side on the back foot. GHA are far better than this performance and will know that there is no substitute for mastering the basics.

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