Edinburgh ACCIES match-winner Josh Pecqueur believes the team got a monkey off their backs by coming from 6-26 down at half-time to pip Heriot’s 28-26 with his injury-time try at Goldenacre in the Scottish rugby Premiership.
Appropriately a sizeable crowd of around 1000 turned out to see the ultimate ‘game of two halves’ as Accies began to cut out the mistakes, including for two intercept tries, which had bedevilled their early effort to stun the hosts with a comeback full of guts and character.
Pecqueur, who took a pass from Jamie Farndale to slip the cover and score too far out for Ruairidh Bonner to convert said that finally getting the first win of the campaign at the fifth attempt was the hardest challenge and that Accies could now begin to do themselves justice.
“In the past couple of weeks we have been building up to this. At half time we talked about cutting 50-50 off-loads and relying on our ability to win rucks before using the ball to pin Heriot’s in the corners.
“We knew we had the ability but clawing back such a big deficit was still the best second half performance I’ve known in a number of years at Accies,” said the 24-year-old Sports HND student at Edinburgh’s Telford College.
Pecqueur’s try also earned a bonus point to equalise the four touchdowns managed by a Heriot’s side whose forwards coach, Steve Lawrie, was magnanimous in defeat. Said Lawrie: “There was a lot of character from Accies in the second half and they were fighting for their (Premiership) lives.”
The home side were left kicking themselves for losing Chris Mulligan and Marc Teague to a sin bin which also hosted Lewis Niven (Accies) and failing to slam the door but their overall performance contained several positives.
Clinical finishing meant they converted every opportunity that came their way and at times a free flowing back division, with centre Ruaraidh Carmichael particularly penetrative, was extremely pleasing on the eye.
Above all the new half-back combination of Sam Hidalgo-Clyde and Graham Wilson worked well with the latter showing solid all-round footballing skills.
But Accies had a never-say-die spirit that enabled them to overcome such howlers as two defenders colliding under a high ball while re-start kicks were fumbled and possession turned over.
Coach Simon Cross was observed with his head in his hands at some points during a first half horror show but emerged smiling.
Said Cross: The manner in which we gave away points in the first half was very disappointing. We were lazy and backed off in defence.
“To come back with 22 unanswered points in the second half was really exceptional.
“I am incredibly proud of that second half effort.”
A draw might have been the ideal outcome but unfortunately for Heriot’s they conceded a late penalty just outside Bonner’s kicking range so a punt to the corner allowed Accies to claim field position.
From the line-out possession went wide for Pecqueur to add to earlier tries from Jamie Farndale, Niall Godsmark and Callum Reid.
Cross said: “If the penalty had been five metres forward it might have been a draw but the decision to kick into the corner came from Dan Teague who is one of the best leaders I have come across. He makes all the decisions on the pitch because he has a feel for how things are going.”
As well as Teague the coach had warm words for props Alex Allan and Lewis Niven with Scotland under-20 back rower Callum Reid arguably man-of-the-match. Said Cross: “Callum Reid is busy, energetic and aggressive.”
Such qualities summed up Accies’ second half effort against opponents whose tries by Jack Turley, Mike Penn, Marc Teague and a penalty try for collapsing a scrum were in vain – apart from yielding a couple of bonus points.
Heriot’s: Tries: Turley, Teague, Penn, Penalty try. Conversions: Wilson (3).
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Godsmark, Reid, Farndale, Pecqueur. Conversion: Bonner. Penalties: Bonner (2).
Heriot’s: M Penn, M Teague, M Learmonth, R Carmichael, C Goudie, G Wilson, captain, S Hidalgo-Clyne, G Cameron, K Bryce, S Cessford, C Osazuwa, J Turley, F Brown, J Hill, C Mulligan. Subs: J-P Ward, R Nimmo, J Syme, M Nimmo. O Brown.
Edinburgh Accies: J Pecqueur, J Farndale, E Campbell, I Berthinussen, M Coupar, R Bonner, A Black, A Allan, M LIness, L Niven, G Campbell, T Drennan, D Teague, captain, C Reid, T Hancock. Subs: C Black, K Blyth, A Findlater, J Adams, N Godsmark.
Referee: C Rudkin (Hawick)