Edinburgh Accies coach Jonny Else has hailed the contribution of his skipper Greg Campbell in Saturday’s outstanding 29-21 win over erstwhile RBS Premiership pacesetters Melrose at Raeburn Place.
Campbell was among the tries for Accies and was prominent both in open play and in the influence he brought to bear during a match that underlined the quality on show at club level – both sides producing high intensity rugby played with skill and at pace.
Ultimately, it was the greater determination and game management of the home side that proved to be the difference between the sides. A delighted Else insisted that all 20 of his matchday squad had played their part in the success. However, he was happy to single out his captain for particular praise.
“He is outstanding and is a great captain to work with. He is a no nonsense kind of guy. He is as honest as they come. I am lucky to be working with him. He leads by example and is outstanding at training as well – his standards never drop.”
Accies led 14-6 at half-time after Joe Helps landed two penalties for Melrose, while Campbell, and Alex Blair had a try apiece, both converted by Ruaridh Bonner.
Edinburgh pro Alun Walker hauled the Borderers back into the contest with a try before Bonner and Helps booted penalties then Austin Lockington raced over for a try, converted by Helps – to give the Borderers a four point advantage with 15 minutes left to play.
However, Else’s men have made a habit of coming from behind this season, and they did so again, with Tom Stuart reacting instinctively to clutch an attempted clearance and power over for a converted score. And the Capital outfit clinched the four-try bonus point in impressive fashion when Jamie Farndale sprinted out of defence and linked with Blair who sent the impressive Nyle Godsmark over for a spectacular touchdown.
Reflecting on the win that leaves Accies third in the league table, Else said: “I thought we were disciplined first half, we attacked well. It came down to our defence in the first half. We knew when to challenge and when not to round about the breakdown. But they are a good side and we knew they would come back in the second half and we had to be ready for it.
But, paying tribute to the efforts of his players, he added: “In the last 10-15 minutes, we really upped the pace again. The guys coming off the bench were outstanding as well. It’s great to see that.”
In addition to occasional glimpses of his incisive running, Blair, who has been offered the opportunity to return to training with Edinburgh on a part-time basis, repeatedly ignited the pacy Accies back three of Godsmark, Farndale and Sam Pecqueur with his ability to vary the angle of attack through his distribution.
Despite the completeness of Saturday’s performance against a well-drilled Melrose outfit, Else insists his efforts to develop the side remain work in progress, although he is happy with how his squad is evolving
“When you win games by one or two and you analyse it, you see a lot of the mistakes were self inflicted. If we can control our mistakes and minimise them, and play in the right areas of the park, and keep developing, which we are, the results will come.”
For now, the coach will not allow his men to look beyond this weekend’s Capital derby away to Heriot’s. And, with several long-term absentees poised to return, competition for places is set to intensify.
“It’s only one win and we are still in September. We will enjoy this then we will park it, analyse it, then work on it at training. It’s all about developing. We have a few guys coming back next week, so selection should be interesting.”
Edinburgh Accies: Tries – Campbell, Blair, Stuart, Godsmark. Cons – Bonner (3). Pen – Bonner
Melrose: Tries – Walker, Lockington. Con – Helps. Pens – Helps (3)
Edinburgh Accies: N Godsmark, J Farndale, E Campbell, I Berthinussen, S Pecqueur, A Blair, R Bonner, A Allan, M Liness, P Cringle, G Campbell, J McCarthy, R Snape, N Aitken, A Findlater. Subs Used: D Morrison, T Stuart, S Evans, J Houston
Melrose: A Lockington, D Hoyland, A Skeen, J Helps, A Dodds, R Mill, B Colvine, N Little, A Walker, N Beavon, J Head, R Ovens, P Eccles, G Runciman, G Dodds. Subs Used: R Ferguson, G Holborn, C Keen, R Miller, T Wilson
Referee: J Matthew