What an incredible match
Accies win by 2 points and secure the 4 points
With so much depending on the result of this match, for both teams, it was always going to be a tight affair. So with total commitment from every one of the players, it was, as has been so often between these two sides, an memorable day and a match that I am sure the biggest crowd of the season enjoyed.
Victory for either side would keep them well in contention for promotion and so it was, as Newton Stewart kicked off, you could feel the tension amongst the crowd. Accies have been slow to start in the last two games, would they do the same today and take 20 minutes to get going? Well it was clear from the kick off that that was not going to happen today and Acces were quickly on the attack and looking menacing. However a penalty, for holding on, allowed Newton Stewart to get into Accies territory and they were looking very quick and aggressive with ball in hand. The Borders have a good side which is well coached, and clearly know what they are trying to do with ball in hand. They were quickly into Accies 22 and with some very quick transference to the far side their winger was in space and over for the first try of the match.
Conversion from wide out missed 0 – 5
After the disappointment of last week, the worry amongst the crowd was that Accies heads would go down. Well they needn’t have worried as Accies response was instant and impressive. From the kick off they attacked the ball carrier and pushed them backwards thus applying real pressure in the Newton Stewart 22. Another penalty seemed to have given Newton Stewart some relief but it was short lived and Accies were soon back in the 22 and camped on the opposition try line. Several ‘pick and goes’ from the forwards from tight in to out wide, were all thwarted by some very committed Newton Stewart defence but eventually the wall broken and Josh Waldin saw the gap and was over just to the right of the posts.
Jamie Loomes had no difficulty with the conversion 7 - 5
This end to end game now saw Newton Stewart work themselves back into Accie territory, they were not second in the league for nothing, and it was with some good, fast and well supported running that saw them 10 meters from Accies line. Despite playing some really good rugby, using the space afforded by the superb Anniesland pitch, they were thwarted by some excellent Accies defence, but eventually were awarded a penalty just inside Accies 22 and to the right of the posts. The poor unfortunate kicker pulled it across the face of the posts and Accies had a let off. Newton Stewart, however, kept up the pressure and with 30 minutes gone and after several close quarter attacks on Accies line they got over close to the posts for what was a well-deserved try, after all their effort during the first half.
Conversion from in front of the posts successful 7 – 12
The game now flowed for Accies and for the final 8 minutes of the first half were back into the opposition 22 in this somewhat seesaw of a first half and despite their best efforts Accies could not breakdown the stout and determined Newton Stewart defence before half-time.
Half-time 7 – 12
Newton Stewart has slightly the better of the first half but the outcome was most definitely in the balance. It was clear that the large crowd was nervous and needed some positive rugby from Accies to get them shouting. So it was a relief to see Accies start the second half as they had finished the first. The backs were beginning to find holes in the opposition back division which created momentum for the forwards. The scrums were 50-50 with no clear advantage to either pack, but Accies were dominating the line-outs. It was from this domination that Accies next points came. They were camped inside the Newton Stewart 22 and after 3 penalties for pulling down a maul, that referee Mike Milner, who, by general consent, had a very good game, decided that he had to yellow card the Newton Stewart second row. Frome the penalty they went for the lineout and when that maul was brought down he decided a penalty try was his only option.
No conversion required 14-12
The game was still frenetic and neither side was going to give an inch. From a promising Accies attack, a knock on was collected and Newton Stewarts centre who raced past 3 players and found himself in the clear. Heading for the posts at full tilt and I am sure thinking how good it was going to be to score when Jamie Loomes appeared from nowhere and pulled of a superb try saving tackle. The danger was not over but as the ball was flicked up to a supporting player, Ross Cowan intercepted and was clear. However it had been obvious for some period that his leg was not right and he pulled up just inside the opposition 22, opportunity gone.
As I have said, Accies, had been somewhat quieter behind the scrum that we are used to, but bust into life in the last 30 minutes of the game. We saw quick handling and support runners which was putting even more pressure on the opposition defence, but they were up to the task and despite some great running and breaks Accies were being thwarted by some great defence. As the game came to a close and both sets of players almost on their knees, the referee blew for full time.
This was a must win game and despite coming off second best for large parts of the first half, Accies were certainly the better side in the second and were worth their 2 point victory. Which it has to be said was in no small measure due to some fantastic, vocal support.
Updated 22:02 - 8 Apr 2018 by Hugh Barrow
Accies have one game remaining, next week in Edinburgh, against Edinburgh Wanderers , who are 3 points behind us, on 80. So it is a must win game which would put us in pole position for promotion. I will be in touch with all the details for next week’s 1