This game meant an immense amount to both teams, Accies were sitting on 83 points and Murrayfield Wanderers were sitting on 80, so a win for MW would have put them in contention for promotion and a win would put Accies in the driving seat. A 5 point bonus win was a guarantee of promotion but the record shows that MW had only lost one game this season and that was to Highland by two points. So, with the backdrop of Murrayfield Stadium and the sun shining, the spectators took up their positions. There was a palpable sense of anticipating of a tight and exciting game.
So the scene was set and both sides looked well up for the contest as they took to the field. It was Accies who came out of the blocks fastest with a crunching tackle by Hugh Lindsay from the kick off the attitude was set. The backs flowed from the first series of passing moves and the whole pack looked lively. Within the first 5 minutes Accies forced a scrum in the middle of the pitch on the MW 22. A strong scrum moved slightly clockwise and Hugh Lindsay picked and made the opposition defence hesitate which allowed Josh Waldin enough room to steady the last two defenders and scamper between them for the first try, out on the left.
With the tricky wind making kicking difficult Jamie Loomes missed the difficult conversion 5 – 0
For the next 15 minutes the two sides were fairly evenly matched, however it has to be said that whilst Accies were regularly breaking MW first up tackles it was the opposite for MW. So the majority of this period was being played in the MW half of the pitch. Accies came close to scoring a couple of time but an impressive breakout by MW took play just inside Accies territory. A penalty was pushed into the danger zone and after a couple of charges they were awarded a scrum. It was well controlled and a quick pass from their talented no9 saw their equally talented 10 in a small amount of pace, but he produced one of the best side-steps I have witnessed this season, reminiscent of Australian Nick Beale, and romped past the defence for their first try.
He converted his own try from just to the right of the posts 5 – 7
So Accies did exactly what all good teams do after losing a try and virtually from the kick-off they forced their way in the MW 22. A couple of superb drives from the forwards which produced good quality, quick, ball which was transferred along the line and Ross Cowan, now firing on all cylinders, beat several covering defenders to score out wide on the left.
Updated 12:19 - 15 Apr 2018 by Hugh Barrow
A magnificent touchline conversion by Jamie Loomes made it 12 – 7
From the restart Accies were, once again, pressing and giving their opponents no time either on the ball or in defence, however a loose pass just inside the MW 22 saw the ball land beautifully for their exceptionally fast winger who romped the 75 metres to the posts. MW are clearly a side that can score tries from close and long range.
Easy conversion and Accies are behind again 12 – 14
This was the last time that Accies looked like losing this game and with 35 minutes on the clock the forwards decided to take a bit of a grip on the game. After a couple of penalties and solid forward drives a third penalty saw the line-out on the five metre line and no team were going to stop the drive and try, great forwards work.
This time it was out wide on the right and with the wind in his face Jamie Loomes hit a perfect conversion 19 – 14
There were only 5 minutes of the first half left but Accies weren’t finished. They again attacked from a very good restart. Ryan drove the ball back at MW and some great work from the backs saw the play move back into opposition territory. Accies were in control of line-outs and scrums and were working the ball across the artificial pitch with style. Eventually they were awarded a penalty just under the posts and with no time on the clock – ‘take the 3 points’ was the cry from some sections of the crowd. Captain CJ decided on a scrum and to the delight of the travelling support proceeded to drive their opponents over the line for Hugh Lindsay to drop on the ball and score.
Easy conversion for Jamie Loomes, this time 26 – 14
With the conversion today’s excellent referee Calum Lazenby, who had a very good day with the whistle, blew for half-time.
Half-time 26 – 14
The game clearly still had to be won as MW got the second half with a kick off deep into Accies 22. This was secured, recycled and the ball cleared into touch. I think the general feeling was that whilst Accies were on top any slip-up would cost them and their slender lead would be in danger. But Accies, again using the game plan of flowing 15 man rugby, were soon inside MW 22 and great worked produced a very well deserved try for the indomitable PJ Rankin.
Again from the touchline, Mr Metronome, Jamie Loomes slotted the very difficult conversion 33 – 14
This was proving to be the performance of the season and after another 5 minutes of real pressure, quality rugby, Accies were awarded a penalty in front of the post, and this time Captain CJ decided 3 points would put added pressure on the opposition – Jamie duly converted 36 – 14
Accies were now rampant and running at their opponents with confidence and accuracy. From some hard won possession MW kicked for territory but it was collected by one of this seasons outstanding players, Kris Mathie, he had Ross Cowan scampering up on his flank, he sold a dummy of such superb quality, that most of the opposition and crowd were now looking at Ross, and wondering what he had done with the ball. This opened up the gap Kris required and he broke clear and was running clear. The cover defence got to him and he offloaded to Ross, who was now again on his shoulder, to romp in from 10 metres. Great try and a real feature of this seasons style of rugby.
Once again, Jamie converted from relatively wide out 43 – 14
Perhaps a little bit of over confidence or more likely a determination from MW not to lie down, saw them work the ball into Accies 22 and from some hard driving forward moves they finally broke the Accies defence.
Another good conversion from their No10 43 – 21
Would MW make a comeback, there was still 20 minutes to go but it would require a monumental effort on their part as Accies were clearly not prepared to take a step back. Hugh Lindsay was substituted after a second head knock and Kane Greggain joined the fray. This did not disrupt the teams flow in any way. Neither did the introduction of Adam Lowrie, Chris Nilserius and Harry Walker. It is clear that training involves every player and they all know how the coaches want them to play. So Accies were back on the attack but a couple of penalties saw them pegged back inside their 22.
This time, when the forwards secured good possession inside their 22, Jamie Loomes clearly saw the potential and the ball was moved wide to Ross Cowan, he ghosted outside the first defender which saw him clear and the cover defence was never going to be quick enough to stop him and off he scampered, running the full length of the park, leaving desperate defenders in his wake to score a typical Ross Cowan try.
Yes, Mr Consistent converted from wide out, as I think RC had run out of steam and had touched down early 50 – 21
Clearly the game was won but Accies were not going to take their foot off ‘the peddle’ today. They were keeping their intensity up and focus clear. They worked themselves well into MW 22 but a knock on allowed them time to re-group. Some good ball handling and running took them up to half–way. Accies were still putting every ball carrier under pressure and from a rather lose and tired kick, Kane Greggain picked the ball up off his toes on Accies 10 metre line, like any good player should, and carried it into enemy territory. As he was about to be tackled he off-loaded to one of the support players who gave a superb pass to, man of the match, Greg Valentine, who broke two tackles as he scampered into MW 22 and when he was stopped 10 metres short a beautiful off load saw Scott Simmonds in support to score the final try of the match
And yes, this was Jamie Loomes kicking performance of the season 57 – 21
After another two or three skirmish the referee blew for full-time and Accies were promoted, a brilliant effort from every player in the club and all the coaches. It takes far more than 15 players to achieve what has been done this season.
FULL-TIME 57 – 21
Despite a couple of below par games this season, this team have been a credit to themselves and their coaches. I know I am always going on about it but I believe the terrific number of supporters both last week at New Anniesland and even more today at Murrayfield, must have seen what it means to all the players to hear the volume coming from their supporters. I also believe they are a team that play a brand of rugby that is both entertaining and a credit to the ethos of Glasgow Accies rugby. We will be playing in the third tier of Scottish amateur rugby next season and the players are proud that this has been achieved without looking outside Scotland for recruits, buying in or paying any player.
Accies have come a long way since the desperate days when Gordon Mackay came back to Anniesland to try and avoid relegation in season 2006-7 from Regional League West 1, with only 4 games remaining. That having been achieved he set out a plan for season 2007-8. We have worked through some tough seasons since then but what an achievement to have gained promotion in 2 seasons out of three – Gordon would be very proud.
So it is a very big thank you to everyone who has supported these players throughout this season and the previous ones, to help Accies achieve what they have this year, we could not have achieve it without your support