GHA 20 Edinburgh Accies 28
A windless overcast day greeted all attending Braidholm on Saturday. Edinburgh Accies arrived keen to continue to make progress in the league table. GHA for their part were intent in ending a run of defeats which has placed the squad in the nether regions of a demanding league. The enforced restrictions resulting from COVID directives meant that there was a definite flat atmosphere pervading the ground. It was a month since GHA played and it was muted amongst some of the home support that such a layoff may have had negative effects on the squad. Perhaps with this in mind both sides spent a great deal of their preparation going through a variety of passing and moving drills. David Barnett, our superb MC, on behalf of the GHA media team wished everyone a belated Happy New Year. Despite the aforementioned strictures there was a reasonable crowd assembled as GHA’s excellent Junior section provided a guard of honour for both sides as they entered the arena.
There was a certain chill around the ground which would make itself known immediately on kick off as Accies knocked on from the GHA kick off on their twenty two metre line. The match was to be bedeviled by knock-ons, dropped passes, fumbles throughout the match which ruined any concerted and prolonged period of control for either side. From the scrum and subsequent play, Adam Kerr drove into the Accies defence. The visitors managed to work the ball clear. However from the lineout, the home side moved the ball with speed and confidence with Grant Mollison coming into the line to add pressure on the Accies rearguard. For the first five minutes both sides won and lost the ball in the middle of the pitch as both sides looked to run the ball at every opportunity. The solid scummaging by both sides allowed both sets of halfbacks to launch raids over the halfway line only to be repelled by stout tackling. The home side were putting in a huge effort to try and establish a dominant platform and messrs Fox, Kerr and MCarthy continually drove into the visiting defence. Equally, Jamie Sole ,Ruari Campbell and Cameron Bain responded with drives of their own for the visitors. The GHA excellent lineout prowess of messrs Kerr and McCarthy forced the visitors to continually try and change their options at the lineout. As we reached the tenth minute of the half, a number of moves resulting from forward drives broke down as the ball was knocked on or fumbled. This created a stop start nature to the match which was to last for much of the game. This meant that neither side could really dominate for any length of time and led at times to a scrappy and frustrating time for the players and supporters. However the home side were awarded a penalty inside the Accies twenty two and Andrew Goudie, displaying a calm authority placed the ball inside the Accies five metre line. From the lineout the home side forwards working closely together, drove over the line and were awarded a try. In a melee of Braidholm players, it was suggested that Archie Falconer, on his debut scored. The conversion failed and after twelve minutes the score was: GHA 5 EDINBURGH ACCIES 0.
The visitors wasted no time in taking the game to GHA. They won possession inside the GHA half and orchestrated by Jamie Loomes, the Accies forwards, with messrs Sole and Simpson in particular made yardage before releasing the ball to the backs. Suddenly despite defiant and consistent tackling, Accies were making inroads into the GHA twenty two area, pulling GHA players into stopping several thrusts before releasing the ball wide to the Accies backs. Despite great efforts by the home side this led to an overlap and Accies gleefully ran in to score in the corner through Robbie Kent. The patience and accuracy of the Edinburgh side’s attack was richly rewarded and they would demonstrate these qualities at critical times in the match. The try was converted by Jamie Loomes and the score after sixteen minutes was: GHA 5 EDINBURGH ACCIES 7.
Despite this set back, GHA went straight back into attacking mode from the restart. The ball was won in the loose and Andrew Goudie cleverly placed a searching kick behind the visitors defence into their twenty two area. The resulting attempts by Accies to retrieve possession resulted in a penalty in front of the posts for GHA. The resulting kick at goal narrowly missed and there was a feeling in the stands that such misses by either side on such a day of mishandling and errors could prove costly. As we moved past the twenty minute mark, neither side was able to dominate the match for long periods. There was a pattern developing of one side attacking, losing possession then the other side responding before losing possession. However, Andrew Goudie receiving a retrieved ball following great work by the home forward rifled a inch perfect kick to take play from half way right up to the Accies five metre area. From the lineout the ball was gathered by MIchael Fox who thundered towards the goal line as frantic attempts were made to prevent a score . GHA were awarded a penalty and to loud cheers, George Baird converted the kick to make the score, after twenty five minutes: GHA 8 EDINBURGH ACCIES 7.
As we moved towards the half hour mark, the home side enjoyed some dominance with excellent forward drives and recycling forcing the visitors back into their half. Breaks by messrs, Kerr Ewing McCarthy and Fox were matched by cutting interventions by Charlie Lonergand and Max MacFarlane in midfield which forced Accies to put in a number of tackles. Despite this pressure, the yardage made by the home side was minimal with moves being blunted by stubborn defence between the ten metre line and the halfway line. As we moved toward the thirty eighth minute of the match, Accies began to once again move the ball through the forwards, recycling when meeting GHA resistance and going again. THis forced the home side on to the back foot and some incisive and accurate ball work from the visitors forced the home side deep into their own twenty two metre area and defending desperately. Once again the calm assurance of Accies saw the homeside committed and in a well executed overlap the visitors scored through Hamish Janes in the corner. An outstanding conversion by Jamie Loomes made the score as we reached half time GHA 8 EDINBURGH ACCIES 14.
It had been an untidy first half with lots of errors due perhaps to the chill in the air and the month long lack of matches for both sides. Neither side had been able to control the match and there was still everything to play for in the second half.
The early minutes of the second half saw the home side attack the Accies defence. The visitors were able to turn the ball over and clear the danger. Once again there were errors from both sides but as we moved past the fifth minute, Accies once again took the ball into contact with GHA. Furious defence resulted in a scrum inside the GHA twenty two and provided a good attacking position for the visitors. The home side won the scrum and began to try and move the ball away from the twenty two metre area. In contact the ball went loose and was picked up by a delighted Accies side who ran in a very simple try . The try was converted and the score after seven minutes was now: GHA 8 EDINBURGH ACCIES 21.
For several minutes the shock of the loss of this score seemed to knock the confidence of the home side and Accies, seized the opportunity to pile more pressure on the home side. Accies, retained the ball in possession and made inroads into the GHA half, recycling and driving as they made yardage. Once again GHA were forced into non-stop tackling and found themselves on the back foot. As we moved toward the twelfth minute of the half, Accies from well inside the GHA half suddenly cut the ball loose and in a marvellous piece of interpassing cut through the home defence to score, Mathew Walker providing the finishing touches. The try was converted and the score now stood at: GHA 8 EDINBURGH ACCIES 28.
Suddenly the visitors had established a very healthy lead and clearly, with confidence a plenty presumed that the fight had gone out of the home side. However, it is a feature of this squad that despite setbacks this season the squad will continue on most occasions to look to find a way back into a match. Accies seemed surprised that the home side were not prepared to accept the situation and Michael Fox, Erik Cavan and indeed the rest of the forwards renewed their efforts to find a way through the Accies defence. There was some lovely linkage between forwards and backs which allowed messrs Jouary Dixon Lonergan and MacFarlane to tilt at the visitors defence. As we moved toward the twentieth minute of the match it was now Accies who were forced into constant tackling and defence. From a good scrum at the Accies twenty two, GHA moved the ball through hands and retained possession as they drove deep into the Accies rearguard. In a well executed passing phase, Grant Mollison scored in the corner as he outstripped the Accies defence. Andrew Goudie with a superb kick reduced the leeway further and the score after twenty minutes was now GHA 15 EDINBURGH ACCIES 28.
The next few minutes were characterised by a repetition of one side striding forward then losing possession to be mirrored by their opponents. THis made maintaining momentum difficult. As we moved toward the half-hour mark, GHA began to mount sustained pressure with forward surges with back support which concentrated play in the Accies half. Fatigue began to show in both sides after the lengthy break and the attempts by both sides to chip and chase multiplied only to be negated by defensive clearance kicks. However as we moved toward the thirty fourth minute of the half GHA rallied again however there was a huge opportunity for the visitors as a loose ball on halfway was kicked through which took play to the GHA five metre line and the home side with desperate defence managed to clear the danger. In the last few minutes of the match a great break by Charlie Lonergan took play up to Accie ten metre line. The ball was won then lost by the visitors and a penalty was awarded to the home side. As the gloom descended, Andrew Goudie, once again placed an excellent kick inside the visitors five metre area. GHA won the line out and set up a move as they took the ball forward. The ball was fed out to Andrew Goudie whose arrow-like long pass was taken by EriK Cavan who flew over the line to score. The conversion was missed narrowly and the final score was : GHA 20 EDINBURGH ACCIES 28.
It had been a disappointing match in some ways. Rustiness and the chill did little to help passing accuracy. There were a number of occasions when players took their eye off the ball at critical moments resulting in mistakes. There had been a failure of either side to establish a dominant platform for lengthy periods. Accies certainly took their chances and GHA will reflect on how small the margin is between success and failure. Certainly no one can doubt the commitment of the GHA squad to the cause and determination to move away from their current table position.
EDINBURGH ACCIES : V.HART H.JANES R.KENT N.ARMSTRONG B.APPLESON J.LOOMES J.TROUP C.IMRIE C.BLACK C.LACOUR C.BAIN F.SIMPSON J.SOLE M.WALKER R.CAMPBELL F.RIDDLE A.WINNINGTON-INGRAM S.HAGERTY B.GRAINGER .M.SINCLAIR
GHA: G.MOLLISON B.JOUARY C.LONERGAN M.MacFARLANE K.DIXON A.GOUDIE G.BAIRD E.CAVAN A.FALCONER M.FOX J.McCARTHY A.KERR D.EWING W.GRAHAM J.BRUCE J.LOW R. MICHAEL HAY S.PLUMRIDGE S.SIMPSON T.LONERGAN
REFEREE: MR B BLAIN
ASSISTANT REFEREES: MR L FISH MR A WATT