Edinburgh Accies 21 Glasgow Hawks 20
Hawks started the new season with a trip back in time to Raeburn Place, a ground occupied by the hosts since Victorian times. The ground has a Victorian feel, particularly due to the temporary facilities in place whilst Edinburgh Accies prepare for their ambitious new future when the ground is redeveloped. Against this backdrop you couldn’t help hear the words of Rudyard Kipling as the sides fought out a close battle, a battle which was bone-shuddering at times.
“If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;”
The time for talking and wondering was over. The press previews had been published and the questions as to whether Hawks were capable of the step up to the Premiership, now was the time for answers.
Hawks opened at a high octane pace and early pressure found Hawks on the Edinburgh Accies line. Ross Miller created an early breakthrough as he pounced smartly on a ruck ball that the hosts failed to gather as it squirted out. Twice Ally Maclay broke through the defence, only to be caught by Accies’ two Jamie’s Farndale and Sole and wrapped up like a Xmas parcel. The early pressure gave the visiting support true grounds for optimism. However, this bright began to look like a series of missed opportunities as Accies started to open up their backline.
Accies’ two Alex, Black and Blair, at half back started to get the midfield into the game. Hawks centres’. David Milne and Maclay, were called on to make a series of tackles as Accies try to get their line moving. In 12 minutes, Accies got the ball to Farndale who ran powerfully, eluding the cover scoring the opening try. Along with this set-back came another blow, Maclay was sin-binned for an alleged trip during the scoring move. This forced coach. Jamie Dempsey, to make a quick change with Jack Steele coming on and into the backline for Polish flanker Mateusz Bartoszek, in an attempt to counter the threat from the home backs. After a delay, Ruairidh Bonner adding the extras and the tide had started to flow in the hosts favour. (7-0)
A sustained period of Edinburgh Accies pressure saw Bonner extend the home lead with a penalty just after the end of the first quarter. With a man advantage and a 10 point lead Accies were looking powerful. (10-0)
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;”
Despite the disadvantage, Hawks 7 man pack still held an edge against Accies’ 8 and the deficit was narrowed to 7 points when Mike Adamson put a penalty over in 29 minutes. (10-3)
Hawks hearts soared as they dominated the ten minutes of play up until half-time, coming close to a try as Miller picked the ball up from the base of a scrum only to be held up short. The ball was recycled and it fell to scrum-half Paddy Boyer to make a dart for the line but he lost control of the ball as the line beckoned. The visitors efforts remained fruitless and indeed suffered a setback as Bonner extended the lead on the stroke of half-time. (13-3) .
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,”
Whatever was said during the 10 minute interval worked, as Hawks came out and dominated the play. A second Adamson penalty in 47 minutes saw the gap back down to 7 points. (13-6)
Better was to come from some innocuous play in the centre of the pitch. Hawks turned over some Accies possession and Tom Steven emerged from a guddle in the middle of the park to run powerfully, untouchably and with blistering pace for a 50 metre try. Adamson then goaled to tie the scores. (13-13)
Accies were pinned in their own half and indeed only made one foray into Hawks territory in before the hour mark, tellingly winning a penalty which Bonner put over in 56 minutes. (16-13)
As the game progressed, Hawks forward dominance became more and more apparent, at one point pushing Accies 10 metres back in a scrum. However, this effort was undermined by a tactical weakness as they put in a series of aimless kicks which went straight to the Accies backline, giving away possession and offering attacking opportunities to the very pacy hosts. It was a tactic which was to prove very costly.
As the game drifted toward no side, Hawks applied the pressure, moving forward phase by phase until Miller took the ball over for the try with 4 minutes left on the clock, Adamson converted and Accies faced a 4 point deficit in the closing minutes. (16-20)
“If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,”
Accies kicked off and after the kick off, Hawks seemed to have the opportunity to close out the game when they were awarded a free kick after a failed Accies scrum. Given the advantage that Hawks had shown in the set piece there was no surprise as they opted for the scrum again in order to wind down the clock. What was surprising was the quick kick from the base, which went straight to the home backline. Farndale gathered and combined with centres Ewan Campbell and Bonner, before the latter went over for a straightforward score. Untypically, Bonner missed a straightforward conversion. (21-20)
In the remaining 3 minutes Hawks attempted to close this narrowest of gaps, the last chance came when a penalty was awarded just in the Accies half, but Jack Steele fell short with a difficult 50 metre kick. With the whistle blown a point was gained but possibly it was 3 points lost.
“If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!”