Selkirk stunned by Edinburgh Accies’ second-half fighback


STEPHEN BRUNSDON @Philiphaugh

COLE IMRIE turns 78thA minute try helped Edinburgh Accies to a dramatic last-minute Premiership win over the in-form Selkirk at Philiphaugh. The guests started a sensational race to catch up, closed up a 14-point deficit at halftime and thus consolidated their third place in the table.

As cliché as it sounds, this was truly a game of two halves, with the momentum swinging wildly between the two sides on either side of the break. Selkirk started as the stronger of the two sides while Accies struggled to gain an early footing but the tide was finally turned in the second half as the hosts began to tire.

“We just couldn’t get going in the first half – there wasn’t any intensity and there were a few well-chosen words at half-time,” said Accies head coach Iain Berthinussen.


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“But we fought back and took our chances in the second half and I think what really made the difference was our lead in the closing stages.”

Although both teams initially spied on each other in the early stages, there was no doubt that Selkirk was the dominant side in the first half. They jumped off the blocks as they attacked, forcing Accies into a spasmodic defense that at times bordered on chaos.

The home side used their pack equally to force multiple first-half penalties from the scrum, resulting in alleys deep in the Accies half.

But it was this area of ​​the default that made Scott Wight’s men wonder what could have been. On more than one occasion, the alley went awry when hooker Bruce Riddell couldn’t meet his man, earning Accies an easy release.

There were also handling errors and cheap penalties that made the game bumpy until prop forward Luke Pettie opened the scoring with a well-crafted first try of the game after 25 minutes. Selkirk used her superior territory and possession to get within five yards of the accies line and the captain, hiding among would-be tacklers, landed.

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Full-back Matt Reid added the extras to put the hosts 7-0 ahead, with the visitors also reduced to 14 men after losing crosser Matt Walker to a yellow card. Such was the confidence in the Selkirk backline that it seemed a question of when, rather than if, they would make a second attempt before the end of the first 40 minutes.

They did too. After establishing a solid attacking position inside the Accies 22 after stepping behind the defensive line from winger Josh Welsh, Selkirk found himself back in possession. A nice looping pass from Ross Nixon on the out-half found Ryan Cottrell, and the center fed the charging Welshman down the line. In a free fall, Welsh then served the impressive Cottrell – who scored in the same game last season – towards 22. He then gave his center partner Ryan Godsmark space on the other side to go under the post for a try.

Reid managed to convert again, the hosts led 14-0, half-time was approaching. Looking to get back into the game after a slow start, Accies finally got on the scoreboard early in the second half through Jake Mills from the second row.

Selkirk injured the ruck shortly after the restart, which Hart kicked for the corner. From the resulting five-yard lineup, Mills was handed over to the line on foot after Selkirk fumbled a steal. Hart’s conversion missed the post but Accies was suddenly back in contention.

Proof of that, if any was needed at all, came from substitute winger Harvey Cameron-Barr, who almost touched down for Accies’ second after a mistake by Selkirk in midfield. However, the young winger – a product of the Accies youth team – then crossed the line twice in quick succession to put the visitors straight back into the game proper.

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Accies played with much more ambition in attack and was back in Selkirk territory, despite bringing down a man for the second time after Clem Lacour was trapped for a high tackle. Captain Ruairi Campbell took the initiative by executing a quick tap penalty while the Selkirk players were still retreating. Backup scrum-half Sam Johnson then whipped the ball onto his back and eventually found Cameron-Barr collecting his own chip over the top of Lachlan Ferguson to cross.

Barely two minutes later, Accies was even when Cameron-Barr intercepted an erratic Selkirk pass down the center line and just made it to the line in the same corner where he had landed for his first. After Hart missed his first two attempts from the tee, Ben Appleson hit a sensational touchline conversion to make it 17-17.

Now the game was firmly in limbo and it was beginning to show on a tiring Selkirk side who, despite regaining the lead with a Reid penalty in the last quarter, looked vulnerable as Accies seemed to find all the vital pieces of equipment. Discipline, Selkirk’s strength and Accies’ Bête Noire in the opening 40 minutes, also began to wane as referee Grant Stephen pinged the hosts with alarming frequency in the final minutes.

That was exactly what Accies needed and they used it to their advantage as prop Cole crawled under Imrie for the decisive try with two minutes remaining. Appleson’s move gave Accies a four-point lead, which they maintained to the end.

“The reaction we had at the start of the second half was exactly what we wanted,” added Berthinussen. “Harvey took his chances for those two points really well.

“We managed to squeeze them and force them to make mistakes, which is what they did to us in the first half.”

For Selkirk head Scott Wight, it was a case of missed opportunities that frustrated him the most towards the end of the game. “We really hit the self-destruct button,” he said. “We played really good rugby in the first half, controlled the game and in the second half we just tried to play from our own half, which we didn’t do in the first half.

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“I don’t mind being beaten, but it’s the nature of that defeat that’s hard to take.”

TEAMS –

Selkirk: M Reid; J Welsh, R Cottrell, R Godsmark, L Ferguson; R Nixon, J Hamilton; L Pettie©, B Riddell, Z Szwagrak, J Head, A Cochrane, A McColm, S McClymont, M Job. Substitutes: J. Bett, K. Thompson, C. Turnbull, A. McColm©, C. Whyte.

Edinburgh Acces: B Appleson; Wallace M, Kent R, Armstrong N, Wells M; V Hart, B Grainger; Imrie C, Campbell H, Lacour C, Thompson R, Mills J, Crowther M, Walker M, Campbell R©. Substitutes: G Ratcliff, F McAslan, T Jones, S Johnson, H Cameron-Barr.

Referee: G Stefan.

scorers –

Selkirk: Trials: Pettie, Godsmark. Cons: Reid 2. Pens: Reid 2.

Edinburgh Acces: Trials: Mills, Cameron-Barr 2, Imrie. Cons: Appleson 2.

yellow cards: Accesories: Walker, Lacor.

Scoring order (Selkirk first): 5:0, 7:0, 12:0, 14:0 (height); 14-5, 17-5, 17-10, 17-15, 17-17, 20-17, 20-22, 20,24.

man of the match: Cameron-Barr scored two good tries and Imrie’s last try proved decisive, but the architect of the second-half momentum was the Accies captain Ruari Campbell. His decision to execute a quick tap penalty led to Cameron-Barr’s first attempt, and his ability to keep his troops calm while twice reduced to 14 men was exceptional. Also of particular note was backup scrum half Sam Johnson, 38, whose attitude and gameplay were superb in the closing minutes.

talking point: After all, a pass was all it took to take the momentum to swing Accies towards. Before Cameron-Barr intercepted, Selkirk had stemmed the flow of attack and regained possession. But it seemed this took the wind out of Wight’s men and turned it into real competition afterwards. With Accies being better drilled and more energetic in the final quarter, there would only be one side.


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