Edinburgh Accies coach Jonny Else slammed his side for “schoolboy errors” after surrendering an unbeaten Premiership rugby record with a 22-34 home defeat by promoted Hawick.
This game turned on a 51st minute sin-binning but, ironically, it was the yellow card shown to Hawick winger Greg Anderson for up-ending Nyle Godsmark that spurred the Borderers, albeit the try count ended level at four apiece, earning Accies a consolation bonus point.
That single increment was little comfort to Else who fumed at the fragility of the home defence in particular while noting handling errors and a lack of directness.
Said Else: “Fair play to Hawick particularly in the second half but it was in the middle of that period when we really fell off tackles.”
A former Hawick player himself, Else was well aware of what can happen when these former Scottish champions are given a sniff.
“We let them play and when you let Hawick play they are bloody good. They were quick, they came round the corner (of rucks and set-pieces) and attacked well. We were not at the races in the second half (and it was) silly little schoolboy errors really, including running off the pitch twice.”
Accies came from ten points down early on to establish a lead and many expected them to kick on from there especially against a side beaten on the opening two weekends.
“I’m at a bit of a loss to know what happened in that second half,” said Else. “I thought we were starting to build a bit of momentum. We came back into it playing some good stuff but those silly little errors kept letting us down. Defensively we need to be much better.”
Accies had the third fewest points against in the table last year when they finished fourth overall but you would never have known on this form starting when Hawick openside Michael Fedo, who was the best player on the field, sliced through from 25 yards for the opening try.
Else added: “Fedo was outstanding and when they got their tails up Rory Hutton came on and was also very good.”
Hutton, who is working his way back from injury, is the stand off whom Edinburgh discarded a few years ago after one highly promising display.
On the evidence of his performance in the second-half at Raeburn Place he could still interest professional scouts and it was no coincidence, the sin-binning apart, that Hawick’s superiority stemmed directly from Hutton’s involvement.
But, overall, the impression was of an Accies foot-shooting exercise with some notable exceptions. These included Jamie Farndale who showed an appetite for work and under the high ball his focus never wavered; the same went for full back Jamie Sole, an especially potent counter attacker.
Neil Aitken looked a useful back row recruit and Alex Glashan, a late scrum-half replacement for Alex Black, backed up well for his try.
Collectively the Accies scrum was solid and with adequate possession and an ability to stretch play they should have won comfortably.
Time and again, though, they were either riddled in midfield or mis-handled albeit the early loss of No. 8 Tom Drennan hardly helped.
A trip to win-less Currie on Saturday should afford an early opportunity to get back on track and Else is hoping for the quick return of under-20 cap Calum Reid to the back row and ex-pro Iain Berthinussen at centre.
“We have a couple of guys coming back from injury and that will spice things up,” admitted Else.
“Some of our combinations in the first half worked well and we came back strongly at the end showing we are as fit as anybody in the league.
“But we have to know when to play and when to play in the right areas – and we have to stop falling off tackles.”
Neil Renwick was involved early for Hawick with a penalty and then conversion of Michael Fedo’s solo try of a flat pass although Accies hit back with tries by Alex Allan and Alex Glashan with Ruairidh Bonner converting the latter.
Hopes of an interval lead were dashed by a Renwick penalty and when converted tries by winger Scott McLeod, Lee Armstrong and Hutton the outcome was a formality.
Credit Accies with resilience which brought tries by Michael Liness and skipper Greg Campbell in the final five minutes but it was much too little, too late.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Allan, Campbell, Liness, Glashan. Conversion: Bonner.
Hawick: Tries: Fedo, Armstrong, McLeod, Hutton. Conversions: Renwick (4). Penalties: Renwick (2).
Edinburgh Accies: J Sole, J Farndale, E Campbell, R Bonner, N Godsmark, A Blair, A Glashan, A Allan, M Liness, P Cringle, G Campbell (captain), J McCarthy, N Aitken, T Drennan, R Snape. Subs: D Morrison, S Strudwick, A Findlater, C Dean, S Pecquer.
Hawick: N Renwick, S McLeod, J Johnstone, G Johnstone, G Anderson, A Weir, B Campbell, S Muir, L Gibson, L Launders, K Willison, B McNeil, N McTaggart, K Davies (captain), M Fedo. Subs: H Scammell, M Landels, R Scott, R Hutton, L Armstrong.
Referee: J Matthew.