Edinburgh Accies coach Jonny Else is refusing to rule his men out as RBS Premiership title contenders after his side turned on the style to see off Aberdeen Grammar 42-26 at Raeburn Place on Saturday.
Else conceded that Accies had struggled to re-acclimatise to league business after sampling rugby at a higher level in the British & Irish Cup. But, lessons learned from locking horns with clubs in Wales and England were applied effectively against Grammar in a manner that ensured the visitors – despite opening the scoring – were constantly struggling to match the effervescent hosts.
The victory yielded all five league points and the result has propelled Accies into sixth spot in the table, with two matches in hand, the first being Saturday’s clash with Ayr. That encounter promises to pose another stern examination says Else, who is adamant that all is still to play for at the top and bottom of the table.
“Anything can happen as last season showed. There is a lot of rugby to be played. We have our two games in hand so we have to push on. But everybody can beat everybody in this league,” he said.
And he is urging his men to use Saturday’s morale boosting result as a springboard for the team to make further progress.
“We needed that just to lift the whole place. It’s been a tough month,” he added before commenting on the ambitions of several players in his squad who have aspirations of playing at a higher level. “They are concentrating on this just now, they are loving the B&I preparation and the bits we are doing for that. They have to get this bit right. We have to push on now.”
Among the individuals who have caught the eye to date this season is Nyle Godsmark, who produced another fine effort on Saturday. Else speaks highly of the versatile back, stating: “He is outstanding to work with – his attitude is brilliant. The beauty is that he can play in the centre, and he can play in all positions in the back three. He is at home in all of them. He is a great boy to work with.”
Another player who proved a handful for the visitors was Alex Blair, fielded at stand off on this occasion. He contributed 17 points with the boot, recording only one miss although it was his running that illuminated the game, one searing break showcasing his pace and balance.
Despite falling behind to a first minute penalty by Mark Ryan, Accies dominated the opening quarter and had tries from Jamie Farndale and Lee Jones – the latter a fine solo effort – both converted by Blair, who also landed two penalties.
An injury time try by Erland Oag for Grammar was converted by Ryan to leave Accies 20-10 ahead at the interval. Ryan landed penalties either side of a three pointer from Blair, who then exhibited exceptional vision to chip ahead for Farndale to bag his second try. And although Ryan booted another penalty, Duncan Morrison sealed the bonus point and was joined on the scoresheet by Shaun Strudwick, with Blair adding both conversions.
The visitors did as they had done in the first half, finishing strongly and claiming a late try – this time through Tony McGinness. Sam Knudson’s conversion completed the scoring in a match that was another fine advert for club rugby, despite conditions which deteriorated as the game progressed.
“We needed that,” said a relieved Else. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks. The transition from the B&I Cup back into the league hasn’t been as smooth as we would have liked it. We just didn’t turn up against Hawks and they exploited us big time.
“In this game, the endeavour was there, the attitude was spot on. We came out right from the start and attacked them, defended well in the first half. I’m disappointed that we let a try in at the end but one to 20 we were outstanding. We knew when to play and when to kick it. Our breakdown play was really good as well. We had a plan – we wanted to play rugby at the right times and I thought we were very controlled.”
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Farndale (2), Jones, Morrison, Strudwick. Cons: Blair (4). Pens: Blair (3)
Aberdeen Grammar: Tries: Oag, McGinness. Cons: Ryan, Knudson. Pens: Ryan (4)
Edinburgh Accies: N Godsmark, J Farndale, E Campbell, I Berthinussen, L Jones, A Blair, M Campbell, A Allan, M Liness, P Cringle, G Campbell, J McCarthy, R Snape, H Watson, C Reid. Subs Used: D Morrison, S Strudwick, A Toolis, R Bonner, C Dean.
Aberdeen Grammar: S Aitken, E Oag, W Wardlaw, H Duthie, P Nacamavuto, M Ryan, M Ward, M Dixon, S O’Connor, S Cessford, A Cramond, J Metcalfe, S Bingham, T McGinness, T Preece. Subs Used: M Schosser, S Warnock, R Cessford, C Gordon, S Knudson.
Referee: C Samson.