EDINBURGH Accies endured a difficult afternoon when they made their British & Irish Cup debut against a slick Pontypridd outfit.
The Raeburn Place coaching team had admitted that the club’s first involvement in the competition was a step into the unknown and a learning experience. And it proved to be a painful lesson for the home side after they struggled to match a powerful Welsh outfit that harvested eight tries. Beaten two seasons ago at the semi-final stage by eventual winners Bristol, the Welshmen have designs on the trophy this time.
Their coach Dale McIntosh said: “If you don’t want to win, you shouldn’t be in the competition. People might say we’re dreaming but we’re in every competition to win it. I’m chuffed with this result for the boys because we really want to make a go of it.”
He had seen his men issue an early statement of intent, bagging two tries in the opening three minutes. The first came from a deft cross-kick by Simon Humberstone that picked out Mathew Nuthall who snatched the ball ahead of home winger Nyle Godsmark and darted in. Humberstone converted then boosted Ponty’s tally when he galloped in at the corner following a neat flip inside by Nuthall.
Shell-shocked by that start, Accies eventually gained a foothold and their first sortie into opposition territory yielded a penalty which Alex Blair steered between the sticks. And they were back in the game after 12 minutes when Phil Cringle applied the final touch after a catch and drive at a close range lineout.
Ponty stemmed the tide with a penalty by Humberstone and by half time had stretched away with additional tries from Craig Locke and Jake Thomas, the latter converted by Humberstone, to send the visitors into the break with a 27-8 advantage.
That gap grew shortly after the restart when Gavin Dacey marked his 200th appearance for the club by darting in for try number five. Accies responded with a touchdown by Blair but that was the final time the hosts would trouble the scoreboard and the final half hour developed into a damage limitation exercise.
Nuthall and Thomas each dotted down for a second time and the visitors set about breaching the half century barrier. Accies held out until the final play when a sniping run by Lloyd Williams found a gap in the tiring home defence to score. Dai Flanagan’s second conversion of the afternoon completed the scoring and sent the massive travelling support home happy.
Accies assistant coach Malcy McVie was satisfied with the commitment of his men saying: “I thought we competed pretty well for most of the game”. However, he acknowledged the quality of the opposition, adding: “They were just clinical, and they finished pretty much every opportunity they had.”