Edinburgh Accies confirmed their top-flight status following a 23-13 victory over city rivals Stewart’s Melville FP, in today’s (Saturday 5 April) RBS Premiership play-off at Hawthornden.
The fitness of the Accies side seemed to be the telling factor as their strong finish, controlling possession and pinning their opposition back in their red-zone, suffocated any chance of a late Stewart’s Melville comeback.
Most of the first half was played in the middle of the park, both sides finding it hard to breach the opposition 22 metre line in a threatening manner. The over-zealousness of both packs also strangled the opportunity for a flowing game as the penalty count around the contact area was more than plentiful.
The highlight of the first 40 minutes came as Scotland under-20 and Edinburgh Accies wing Jamie Farndale hit a strong inside line from a set-piece move, popping the ball onto centre Iain Berthinussen who strolled over the whitewash from close range.
Despite missing the easy conversion, stand-off Alex Blair, slotted a penalty later in the half to make up for his initial misdemeanour.
The pin-point boot of Stewart’s Melville FP stand-off Nick McCashin kept his side in the game as he converted two first-half penalties.
Half time: Edinburgh Accies 8 Stewart’s Melville FP 6
Accies looked to shut out the game early on in the second period, launching an unforgiving attack on their opposition line. Despite a gutsy Stewart’s Melville defence, some excellent Accies handling found wing Nyle Godsmark, who spotted a hole in the line and squirmed his way through to score the try (13-6).
Accies stretched their lead further only moments later when Blair once again followed up a missed conversion with a successful penalty kick.
However, Stewart’s Melville were not down and out, showing great resilience to claim a score back. Following a number of well put together phases, McCashin wrong footed his opposite number to cross the line by the posts, duly converting his own try to reduce the deficit to three points (16-13).
Despite the best efforts of Stewart’s Melville, the composure and experience of the Premiership side began to tell as they closed out the game.
A number of ruck infringements from the Stewart’s Melville side saw referee James Matthew, reach into his pocket and produce a yellow card, replacement Jonathan Hamblin the victim.
With their opposition down to 14 men, Accies continually kicked to the corner keeping the Stewart’s Melville pack under the cosh. As the clock wound down, their patience paid dividends as back-row Callum Reid, whose carrying was at the centre of Accies’ attack all game, smashed his way over the line, replacement stand-off Ruairidh Bonner adding the extras.
Final score: Edinburgh Accies 23 Stewart’s Melville FP 13
Edinburgh Accies team: Ruairidh Young; Jamie Farndale, Ewen Campbell, Iain Berthinussen, Nyle Godsmark; Alex Blair, Mike Campbell; Duncan Morrison, Michael Liness, Phil Cringle, Greg Campbell (captain), Alex Toolis, Tom Stuart, Robin Snape and Callum Reid.
Replacements: David Bates, Clement Lacquor, Jamie McCarthy, Tom Hancock, Ruairidh Bonner, Jack Marples and Sam Pecqueur.
Stewart’s Melville FP team: Mike Hanning; Alan Whittingham, David Hampton, Neil Bowie, Matt Morrell; Nick McCashin, Fraser Strachan; Willie Aitken, Nicholas Hart, Rhys Morgan, Scott Brewster, Fraser Morrison, Ruaridh Stewart, Benjamin Wilson and Adam Howie.
Replacements: Jonathan Hamblin, Conor Mackay, Ross Anderson, Stuart Wilson, Donald Sangster, Seb Trotter and Chris Beattie.
Referee: James Matthew