Edinburgh Accies 17
ALAN LORIMER @ Raeburn Place
IT certainly does not get any easier for Edinburgh Accies, who, despite putting in a feisty performance, suffered another car-crash defeat, this time to the defending champions, Melrose, in a match that was something of a training session for the title-holders.
Still, Accies can congratulate themselves for scoring three tries and for giving a much better account of themselves after the interval. “There was a bit more spirit in the second half and certainly an intensity in our line speed in defence. We wanted to play with a bit more tempo. But we were too far behind by then,” conceded Accies coach Derek O’Riordan.
“That first half was just about the worst rugby we’ve played all year. We just didn’t show up. We showed them too much respect. We got spooked in the first half.”
Melrose would certainly concur that they were much more dangerous in the period before half-time, when their forward dominance, their handling skills and their tactical nous were on a higher plane than their opponents. After the interval the Melrose performance fell somewhat below par, in part due to the many changes the champions made off the bench.
“I was happy with what we did in the first half,” said Melrose coach Rob Chrystie, whose side used the game against Edinburgh Accies to sharpen up before the top-of-the-table clash with Ayr next weekend. “I thought our accuracy was pretty good. It kind of fizzled out in the second half – the game got a little disjointed
“We’re excited about playing Ayr. We all know it’s going to be a completely different game next Saturday. We know what Ayr will bring.”
Melrose struck with only three minutes of the game played, as their arch scorer Fraser Thomson used his pace to scorch through in the wide channel for an unconverted try. Accies, however, were not fazed by this early show of scoring power and produced an excellent try in response, from good close-range driving by the forwards and then when the ball was moved wide a forceful finish by second row Michael Badenhorst.
That score did not go down too well in the Melrose camp and within minutes there was a typical reply from the Borderers, a rolling maul ending with serial scorer Russell Anderson touching down and Edinburgh professional Jason Baggott converting.
Premiership Match Reports:
Melrose in the pink
With momentum building Melrose produced an excellent score, built from several phases of impressive handling that finally created the gap for wing Bruce Colvine to race over for try number three. Then from a lineout move centre Gavin Wood ran in for the bonus-point try.
Melrose still had a further shot to fire in the first half, helped by a yellow card being shown to Badenhorst, but mainly achieved by the mauling efficiency of the Greenyards forwards, which gave Anderson his second try. Baggott’s conversion gave the Borderers a 29-5 half time lead.
Having delivered the final points of the first half, Baggott featured early in the second half but not in the way he might have wanted, his illegal interference with an Accies maul resulting in the stand-off being sent to the sin-bin and the Raeburn place men being awarded a penalty try. Fourteen-man Melrose soon vented their ire, scrum-half Murdo McAndrew darting over for a try and Craig Jackson converting for a 36-12 lead.
In a scrappy final quarter Melrose added to their points tally with another maul try, this time replacement hooker Richard Ferguson being the beneficiary, and Struan Hutchison the provider of the extra points. Then when centre Patrick Anderson cut through midfield Melrose completed their scoring.
As the gloom of an unlit Raeburn Place descended Accies had the final say in scoring and again it was that man Badenhorst who provided the try to provide some cheer in an otherwise unrewarding afternoon.
Edinburgh Accies: V Hart; C Gray, R Chalmers, R Wilson, R Kent; J Loomes, M Love; D Morrison, R Simpson, M McCallum, R Lovett, M Badenhorst, N Stephen, J Sole©, J Mann. Subs: C Black, M McGinley, M Love, W Stephen, A Inwood.
Melrose: F Thomson; B Colvine, P Anderson, C Jackson, G Wood; J Baggott, M McAndrew; G Shiells, R Anderson, R McLeod, A Runciman, C Young, N Irvine-Hess, G Runciman©, I Moody. Subs: R Ferguson, C Wilde, D Colvine, S Hutchison, I Sim.
Referee: S Grove-White.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Badenhorst 2, penalty try.
Melrose: Tries: R Anderson 2, P Anderson, McAndrew, Thomson, Ferguson, Wood, B Colvine. Cons: Baggott 2, Jackson, Hutchison.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 0-5, 5-5, 5-10, 5-12, 5-17, 5-22, 5-27, 5-29 half-time, 12-29, 12-34, 12-36, 12-41, 12-43, 12-48, 17-48.
Yellow cards –
Edinburgh Accies: Badenhorst.
Man of the Match: In what was not a real test for Melrose, when white-line fever was prevalent the steadiness of the Borderers front-row was ultimately the winning factor and in this respect the award deserves to go to Grant Shiells, who was the equal of his opposite number, Murray McCallum.
Talking point: Melrose were able to experiment with a few moves in this game against Accies, but they know only too well that the game next Saturday against Ayr will assume a different shape. What was pleasing for Melrose was their ability to revert to a powerful scrummaging/mauling game when this form was needed. Accies must now be counting the games until the end of this league: their project is not about the here and now but much more about building for the future. And with a centrally situated ground and an ambitious infrastructure programme under way a turnaround, albeit outside Super Six, will surely be achieved.