Edinburgh Accies lose but stem points tide

Powerful London Welsh winger Joe Ajuwa leaves the Accies defence sprawling. Picture:  Phil Wilkinson
Powerful London Welsh winger Joe Ajuwa leaves the Accies defence sprawling. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Looking on the bright side of this British and Irish Cup tie as the light rapidly faded towards the end, Accies had at least stemmed the tide of the 50-plus points drubbings they have been suffering in Pool 2.

Edinburgh Accies 7-33 London Welsh

Scorers: Accies: Try: M Campbell. Con: Chisholm. Welsh: Tries: Stedman 2, penalty try, Watkins, Moss. Cons: Robinson 4.

The dark side is that they still drowned in a scoreline of five tries to one and have two more games to play in the New Year against opposition who probably now equate taking points off Scotland’s oldest rugby club with depriving babies of candy.

Having lost at London Welsh, the English Championship leaders, the previous weekend by 73-10, Accies had bulked up their forwards with seven full-time professionals on the books of Edinburgh Rugby. In a wind that battered touchline flags flat and raked by slanting rain, this was always going to be a forward battle and it didn’t disappoint as the two packs slugged it out.

“We don’t want to blame the conditions but it was pretty hellish out there,” said former Scottish international stand-off Gordon Ross – now earning his living as player coach at London Welsh. “There were a couple of tries we missed out on and we were not as clinical in finishing as we should have been. Bringing in the Edinburgh pros definitely made a difference compared with last week. There was more physicality from them and it made Accies very competitive at the breakdown.”

Accies coach Jonny Else was upbeat about his side’s performance. “It was an absolutely outstanding effort. I could not have asked for anything more from my players. We made them work for it and it’s just a pity that a couple of silly kicks and silly mistakes at the end there let them get away from us a bit.

“The B&I Cup is a learning experience for us all here at Accies. We are learning a lot about the physical side, about the mental side. But a lot of it in the cup games is about physicality, about the size of the men we are playing against and each game has been a little bit different.

“Pontypridd were straight out of the traps for 15-man rugby. London Scottish was up-the-jumper stuff, and London Welsh like to move it and play in the wide channels. So it has been good for us. We have guys in the dressing room who want to be professional players and they need this. The lessons may be harsh but they are learning.”

Accies’ pro-fuelled pack started slowly but held out the Welsh until the 17th minute when Number 8 Ollie Stedman was able to cross as a scrum disintegrated on the home line.

Five minutes into the second half, London Welsh shunted the Accies pack backward so that it collapsed and the referee went under the posts to give the penalty try.

Ten minutes later, when another close range scrum went down, home prop Lewis Niven was yellow carded and Accies momentarily lost concentration, allowing Stedman to take a quick tap and burrow over.

Accies stubbornly stuck to their task and won a series of penalties. Welsh prop Billy Moss went to the sin bin when he prevented a quick one being taken and watched from the sidelines as Accies hacked a loose ball into the wind once, then twice, then a third time to put it over the line, and replacement Mike Campbell flopped on it for the try.

Another replacement got London Welsh’s fourth try, scrum-half Josh Watkins defying the conditions to chip over an advancing defence and run through to touch down his own kick. Next for the sin bin was Accies’ Nyle Godsmark while Moss returned to the pitch to pick up at the rear of a ruck and crash over for the try.

Accies: J Sole; N Godsmark, E Campbell, I Berthinussen, J Farndale; I Chisholm, A Black; A Allan, S McInally, L Niven, R McAlpine, A Toolis, M Coman, C Reid, H Watson. Replacements: C Lacour, M Liness, P Cringle, R Seydak, T Stuart, M Campbell, S Pecqueur.

London Welsh: A Awcock; J Tinckwell, D Mama, J Lewis, J Ajuwa; W Robinson, R Lewis; A Hepburn, N Morris, B Moss, B West, P Browne, B Pienaar, M Denbee, O Stedman. Replacements: N Vella, P Edwards, W Carrick-Smith, R Thorpe, O Frost, T Chapman, J Watkins.