Rugby: Relegation fight boosted as Muir drop

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Edinburgh ACCIES coach Simon Cross has hailed the mettle of his players after they produced a gritty 13-10 win at home to Stirling County in Saturday’s RBS Premiership clash.

The result seals the fate of Boroughmuir who will drop to the second tier next season. However, while the win yielded four crucial league points for Accies, they remain embroiled in the battle to avoid second bottom spot and a play off against the RBS National League runners up for top flight status.

Reflecting on a performance that was brimming with character, Cross said: “It was the last home game of the season. It’s a do or die thing at the bottom of that table now. We are now safe in terms of the automatic relegation and it’s now a case of finishing as high up the table as we can and avoiding that second bottom play off.

“I was worried that we hadn’t taken our chances, particularly in the first half. I thought potentially we had blown it but I’m really proud of the effort to come back in that second half. The energy was excellent and the defence was outstanding. I’m really happy with the result.”

Both sides had personnel missing because of calls from the Clubs International and Under 20 sides. But those who did take the field served up a full-blooded contest, albeit the quality of the rugby suffered as a result of the significance of the outcome and the difficult conditions.

That his players stepped up to the mark was an added bonus for Cross, who added: “We’ve got good structures in place here, we’ve got good youngsters coming through and I think that’s really important. I’ve used 37 players this year in the first team. All these guys here are Scottish qualified, they are all young guys, with the exception of maybe one or two. That’s the way we have to play the game here. We haven’t got the finances to bring in people – we have to grow our own.”

Of those who fall into the experienced camp, Robin Snape made an impact in a 30-minute appearance after a year out through injury and lock Greg Campbell, an underrated grafter, showed his value with a rampaging run in the lead up to the opening try by Nyle Godsmark.

Stirling, who came into the game looking to extend a three match winning run and seeking a bonus point win that would virtually assure them of Premiership rugby next season, battled back with tries by Steve Swindall and Struan Robertson before a penalty by Ruaridh Bonner cut the deficit to two points at the break.

Accies dominated proceedings for most of the second period but failed to convert pressure into points. On two occasions they were held up over the Stirling line, having also suffered that fate twice in the first half.

However, the clinching score did eventually come inside the final ten minutes – Matt Coupar the man credited with a touchdown that ensures Accies have their fate under their own control, with matches away to Dundee High and Boroughmuir to come.

“That’s testament to the quality of the league this year, particularly the teams in and around the bottom half. Anybody could beat anybody,” stated Cross. “We beat Melrose on their patch and we gave Ayr a decent scrap but that’s how competitive it is. We knew this game was massive so I’m delighted to come away with those points.

“We were held up over the line four times so I think that’s probably a fair result in the end. I’m really happy with that. That’s obviously a big relief for us.”

Scorers:

Edinburgh Accies: Tries: N Godsmark, Coupar. Pen: R Bonner.

Stirling County: Tries: Swindall, Robertson

Edinburgh Accies: A Blair, M Coupar, I Berthinussen, R Bonner, N Godsmark, E Bonner, A Black, D Morrison, M Liness, C Murray, G Campbell, T Drennan, D Teague, R Godsmark, C Reid. Subs used: A Findlater, R Snape, S Pecqueur.

Stirling County: J Hope, B Addison, D Gilmour, B Archibald, M Lamb, S Edwards, C Turnbull, M McDonald, A Moffat, C Hutton, R McAlpine, S Robertson, T Clarke, S McDonald, S Swindall. Subs used: B Barsanti, G Mountford, C Faill.

Referee: A McMenemy (SRU).