Edinburgh Accies 27 - 29 Gala: Gala prove that size matters
If this absorbing and highly entertaining match played on a dry, sunny day that was perfect for running rugby reminded us of one thing, it’s that a good big ’un will generally beat a good little ’un.
So it proved at Raeburn Place, with Accies’ highly mobile but undersized pack overwhelmed by a set of grizzled Gala forwards which had the nudge from the outset.
Nowhere was this more obvious than in the scrum, and nowhere was it more important. Despite Accies having the services of Edinburgh tighthead Lewis Niven, they invariably failed to protect their own scrum ball, either being pushed off it or conceding a penalty. This was to prove crucial as the match entered its dramatic final moments.
With five minutes to go the match had looked all but over, with Lee Millar stroking over three unanswered second-half penalties to give the visitors a nine-point cushion. But then wing Jamie Farndale set up a rousing climax with an outstanding try, the Edinburgh pro beating half of the Gala back division from halfway before being dragged down just short, only to take the ball in midfield seconds later and twist and turn his way over under the posts.
Now trailing by just two points, Accies laid seige to the Gala line, but their late charge fell apart when a desperate Gala infringed under their own posts and then drove Accies clean off their own ball at the resulting scrum before clearing their lines. It was the defining moment in a hard-fought match that was characterised by errors and dodgy options from the visitors, and by Accies’ remarkable workrate.
This was a match that Gala coach George Graham said he was “incredibly relieved to win” despite “us trying to lose it with stupid errors and stupid decisions in stupid places”. Accies coach Simon Cross declared himself proud of his players’ efforts, adding that giving away 20 cheap points made this a second lost opportunity in a row after they should have beaten Currie last week.
Both men had a point. Gala clearly edged the first half and had several chances to put Accies away. Wing Craig Robertson got them off the mark when he beat Farndale down the line, but Accies came back into it when wing Josh Peccqueur first had a try disallowed for a forward pass, then got held up over the line before the ball finally made its way into midfield where centre Ewen Campbell crashed over to make it 10-10.
Gala made plenty of inroads, but Alan Emond knocked-on with the line at his mercy and then scrum-half George Graham was held up from a tap penalty under the posts. Yet by now the men in maroon had located Accies’ soft underbelly and when they got a penalty under the posts they opted for a scrum and left the Accies eight in a crumpled heap as No.8 Euan Dods forced his way over just before half-time to take a 20-10 lead.
Another penalty by Ruaridh Bonner just before the break and a well-worked try by Accies fullback Gavin Douglas five minutes into the second half drew the home side equal, and at this stage, Accies were the dominant side. Yet streetwise Gala had the scrum on their side, and using the set-piece, they gradually began to crank the pressure up on the home side’s forwards, who creaked and leaked three penalties, all of which were accepted by Millar.
Farndale’s late try threatened to ruin the Borders side’s Edinburgh awayday, but Gala had just enough to withstand the frenzied final assault. This was probably a fair scoreline, but it was a helluva close call.
Scorers: Accies: Tries: Pecqueur, Douglas, Farndale. Cons: Bonner 3. Pens: Bonner 2. Gala: Tries: Robertson, Dods. Cons: Millar 2. Pens: Millar 5.
Accies: G Douglas; J Farndale, E Campbell, I Berthinussen, J Pecqueur; R Bonner, A Black; D Morrison, M Liness, L Niven, G Campbell, T Drennan, Dan Teague (capt), T Hancock, C Reid.
Gala: A McLean; G Somerville, B Turner, A Emond, C Robertson; L Miller, G Graham; L Pettie, R Anderson, E McQuillan, C Weir, O Palepoi (capt), G Graham, G Lowrie, E Dods.
Referee: Rob Dickson.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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