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NS Match Report – Photo’s to come!

by Webmaster

Having faced the "Bladnoch Boys" twice already this season (winning @ home 24 - 19 in the league and losing 15 - 11 down at NS in the Shield) the bookies were divided as to who was going to start as pre-match favourite for this encounter. But there was no doubt that your favourites were in confident mood as they emerged from the bus after a 3hr journey and a much improved performance last week against Marr.

And beneath a blue afternoon sky littered with puffy white clouds that confidence seemed feel-founded as the ref got us underway at 3 pm. Though we managed to "guddle" the kick-off, the resultant scrum saw NS win the ball only for Graeme Simpson (Gadget) to charge down the oppositions subsequent kick for field position. The big chap, in somewhat lagubrious fashion, then proceeded to charge down the field along with winger Gus MacCallum (Gus) in an attempt to recover the ball but both failed to release the covering fullback and were penalised.

The resultant penalty to touch didn't make much ground and for the next few minutes Accies made the most of their field position, winning the ball and putting together a number of phases that ultimately saw Andy Brown (Classic) pop up on the overlap to power over in the corner after 6 minutes. 5 - 0 then and although the tricky conversion was just wide, we seemed to be in fine form.

And that feeling just got stronger as, almost immediately from the restart, a bold pass from Kenny Beattie (Kenny) to Ali MacLaren (Ginge) allowed our 10 to beat one man and send off Bobby Beattie (Bobby) on a strong run beating 2 men and bouncing another before off-loading to the increasingly impressive Gus. Though stopped in the NS 22 by some strong back row cover tackling, it was clear that Accies had their tails up and after a couple of set pieces on or about the home 22, some slick handling by our backs saw Classic drift into the line once again, quickly alter his line off his right and barge over for a second. It was lovely stuff then as far as the visitors were concerned as with 2 tries in the bag after just 9 minutes, and a 0 - 10 scoreline, thoughts were turning to the prospect of a comfortable bonus point win.

But NS don't have the second highest number of bonus points in the league for nothing and, after a veritable touchline barracking from their coaching staff, their forwards stepped up a gear and all of sudden it was Accies on the back foot. The resultant pressure gave them a well-earned penalty on 15 minutes to make the score 3 - 10 and a few minutes later a bit of naivity on our part and a failure to clear our lines gifted the home side another 3 points. So 6 - 10 then and a finely balanced game!

The match ebbed and flowed for the next 10 minutes as the sides shuttled between the 22's, but it was clear that the NS forwards desperately wanted to make a game of it. Operating on the very margins of the laws (as is their right!) they harrassed and harried our pack and only some very determined tackling, notably from Andy Smith (Andy), Adam Taylor (Westy) and Fabio Marchetti (Fabs) kept NS at bay. To be honest we got lucky when the ref decided that a failure to bind at a set piece deserved a penalty, but it gave us the opportunity to clear our lines and get back into the oppositions half. A good throw from hooker Ruariah Watts (Rooster) allowed Kenny to take and deliver clean ball to scrum half Ben Semple (Ben) and our backs showed "good hands" and ran some good, inventive lines to put the pressure back on NS.

But that pressure was soaked up by the home side with some well-organised defence and even though Kenny chose to run a penalty from 5m out (probably the right thing to do at that particular point in the match in this scribes opinion), the boys were repelled once again and NS clawed their way back into midfield.

A series of "pick & drives" gave them further field position and a penalty against us allowed a punt into the corner on our 5m line. The subsequent drive off the lineout put us under serious pressure but the defensive wall held. After a couple of drives, NS changed tactics and the recycled ball was spun out to the NS 10 who promptly looked up, saw a gap in the 10 & 12 channel and flopped over under the posts on 35 minutes. And with the subsequent conversion and the interval fast approaching, the 13 - 10 scoreline didn't make for comfortable viewing.

Now, if we Accies are being honest with ourselves, there have been a good number of times in the past few seasons when we've been in a similar position - we've had points on the board, have looked strong on the pitch, dominant even, and then we've basically imploded when we've conceded a score at a pivotal point in the match. But that DIDN'T happen yesterday!

Whatever was said under the posts clearly had a very positive effect and a great pass from Ginge in our own 22 let Gus make progress: his off-load to Bobby was perfectly timed and our 12 scorched some 40m down the pitch on a mazy run that got us all on the touchline more than just a little excited. Though cover eventually hauled him down, our forwards piled in at the back of him, the ball was recycled and ultimately full back Stewart Seaton (Seato) went over on the stroke of half-time for a try that was successfully converted by Ginge. 13 - 17 then, but it everything was still to play for.

The second half whistle sounded and it took a few moments for the touchline to realise that Accies had had to make a change at halftime - Bobby was off with an ankle knock sustained in his surging run in the dying moments of the first half and was replaced by young Lloyd Stevenson who came in on the right wing with Seato moving into the centre. But it didn't take NS half that time to realise that Accies had been forced into a re-shuffle and they exploited that fact well, their centres ripping a hole in our back line after just 2 mins and going over for an easy score that was converted: 20 -17 then and this was turning into a real ding-dong affair!

But Accies were not to be out-done: our forwards decided to really take the game to the opposition at last, our scrums started to hold up-front and we subsequently regained field position. Various phases of play passed but in truth, it seemed to the honest spectator that neither side could come up with the puff to deliver a "killer blow". But then, on 49 mins, after quick ball delivered by Ben at a ruck that was won well by our forwards, a piece of quite sublime (if unexpected!) skill from our mercurial 10 saw him thread a Quade Cooper-esque grubber from the 22m line: the ever alert Craig Wright (Nifty) raced onward and promptly nipped in between two covering defenders and pinched a try of real quality. With a touchline conversion following, the scoreline nudged up to 20 - 24, and smiles returned to the faces of the Accie faithful.

The subsequent 20 mins of the match was played largely in the middle of the field - a few runs from the impressive NS hooker and openside flanker in particular momentarily put us under a bit of pressure but our forwards seemed to be getting the measure of the NS pack. There were just a couple of flurrys of excitement for the touchline during this period - a long range penalty effort by Ginge coming back off the posts, and a few handbags got thrown amongst the forwards as both sets went toe-to-toe with each other. But an increasingly vociferous crowd had to wait until the 66 minute for the next score: secure ball won by our hardworking pack went through the hands of our backs and, after the ball was recycled a couple of times, Gus went over to make the score 20 - 29.

And so it remained until the final whistle. NS almost had the final say when their forwards drove determinedly down the field in the dying minutes and won a penalty. A quick tap saw the NS no.8 burrow his way toward the line but determined and no-nonsense defence, in particular from Seato (who gained a concussion in the process), held him up on the line as the final whistle sounded.

This was always going to be a very tough fixture - the fact that NS sit in 9th position in the league belies the fact that they are a strong, physical and very determined side. This scribe's not going to say we were lucky yesterday - we played well to a man, in determined fashion, took our chances well, and I think that on any objective view we did deserve the win. Yes, at times we lost our shape, a bit of concentration and made some basic errors, but the fact that we did so was in large part down to the pressure the NS pack put us under. We showed more than just a bit of character down in Galloway and when the boys reflect on that win, they'll recognise that they're more than capable!

MOTM went to Ben and deservedly so for a strong and consistent performance at scrum-half, with some lovely deft touches throughout the 80 minutes, but in truth a case could have been made for the award to have gone to any one of the 17 players who pulled on the jersey.

And finally, a word about our hosts. It's always a pleasure to visit Bladnoch Park to renew acquaintances but they'll be hurting a bit this morning especially after having made a big contribution to such an entertaining match and left it empty handed. They'll be a bit nervous too that they sit just a single point above Garnock at the foot of our league. But with sufficient home games in hand and the talent at their disposal, their destiny remains in their own hands and there's no doubt they can pull themselves free of relegation. We certainly hope so - West 1 would certainly be the poorer for their absence.

Webmaster | February 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Categories: 1stXV, Accies News, Match Reports | URL: http://wp.me/p2CT7y-IF

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