Edinburgh Accies skipper Dan Teague has tipped Jamie Farndale for a glittering rugby career after the 18-year-old winger’s two tries helped secure a 31-24 win at Glasgow Hawks to ensure his club’s Premiership future.
With Hawks also going for promotion from Group B and only one place likely to be available, the tension was almost palpable at Anniesland.
But ultimately Accies just held their nerve having opened up a 31-10 gap by the 50th minute when Greg Campbell rumbled over for the bonus-point score, while Hawks appeared to panic with a kickable penalty in front of the posts being ‘run’ to no avail with eight minutes still remaining.
Just how this impacted on proceedings could be seen in the final play when Hawks almost notched a runaway try, the cover just closing in time.
In fact, it was Farndale who thwarted that break-out to augment a display of clinical finishing summed up by Teague, who said: “Jamie Farndale was excellent. He’ll go far. He’s just been involved with the (Scotland) under-20s and is in the national academy system.
“Sam Atkin on the other wing will also flourish in Premiership Division One (when available from Worcester University) and we have to get them the ball.”
That Accies, who also crossed through prop Duncan MacLeod, had the bonus tied up so early could have rebounded on them since Hawks found themselves staring down a barrel and, with nothing to lose, threw caution to the wind.
Tries by Stephen Leckie and Tom Preece clearly rattled Accies and Teague admitted: “I enjoyed the first hour but the last half hour was all hands to the pump. We tried to concentrate on keeping the ball and not making mistakes but some guys did panic a wee bit. There was a lot riding on the game.”
On the penalty incident and subsequent let off in front of the posts Teague added: “They should have kept chipping away and in the last minute we nearly got over for a try but the referee penalised us for a double movement and they nearly went the length of the field for a try.
“Not good for the heart, that!
“It was always going to be tight because when you get that far ahead opponents are going to cut loose and have a real go.
“The outcome was a huge relief for a side like us who are smaller and concentrate on skill work and handling. I think that showed in some of the scores.
“It was just reward for the coaches and in the absence of big names we are coached well by Simon Cross and Jonny Else, a very good backs coach who has come through our system.”
Else, a head of department at Gracemount High, is certainly an unsung hero of this Accies set-up working alongside Cross who is learning his craft at the coal face and who will undoubtedly to return to the pro scene he graced as an A international Edinburgh flanker.
Paying tribute to a sidekick whose potential was initially spotted by previous coach Ian Barnes and who has worked his way up through the youth and reserve coaching ranks, Cross said: “The chat from Jonny Else was get the ball wide earlier. It was important for us to stretch Hawks who are very well organised.
“I’m just incredibly proud of our guys. They know what I expect and turn up for training with never a break.
“Hawks came at us massively in the last quarter and it was testimony to our fitness levels and reactions under pressure, especially in terms of line-out throws, that we closed the game out.
“There was thinking under pressure although we took a quick line-out when we didn’t need to at 20 points up and that cost us.”
Accies can now plan their future in a high intensity club Premiership of ten teams but Cross insisted: “My job is about giving the guys the skills to attack in any channels. We have to work with the players we have. We are not a very big side so it is about using what we have got.
“If anybody wants to join, great. But we are not looking elsewhere especially as we have some great guys coming through from the 2nds helping make our club a community club.”
Accies certainly did it the hard way early on when Kenny Blyth and Alex Black were sent to the sin bin, the latter seemingly provoked into throwing a punch during an incident which went otherwise uninvestigated.
It was not the only controversial decision with Leckie being awarded a Hawks try despite a signal that the ball had been held up over the line, the assistant intervening, while breakdown interpretations left many players on a knife-edge so that turnovers were a rarity.
For raw excitement, though, the contest could not be surpassed with the bone-hard pitch creating some wild bounces that added further to the general unpredictability that seemed to come with each of the blasts on the whistle.
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Jericevich, Leckie, Preece. Conversions: Jericevich (3). Penalty: Jericevich.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Farndale (2), MacLeod, G Campbell. Conversions: Bonner (4). Penalty: Bonner.
Glasgow Hawks: C Gossman; T Steven, D Kelbrick, T Preece, K Hamilton; D Karaitiana, P Jericevich (c); S Findlay, E Milligan, J Lohar, A Kirkland, R McKay, A Barbieri, G Strang, S Leckie. Subs: J Macfarlane, P Henderson, R Hamilton, D Milne.
Edinburgh Accies: J Sole; J Farndale, R Browne, I Berthinussen, S Atkin; R Bonner, A Black; D MacLeod, M Liness, K Blyth, G Campbell, P Drennan, D Teague (c), C Reid, A Findlater. Subs: C Black, C Murray, M Gordon, M Campbell.
Referee: J Mathew (SRU).