Scotland may still be seeking their first win of this year at senior or under-20 level but another glimpse of a brighter future was evident at Myreside where age-group internationalist Callum Reid starred in the back row for an Edinburgh Accies side who just held on to defeat Watsonians 18-17 in Premier Group B.
The 19-year-old, whose great uncle Alex Venters was capped for Scotland’s football team out of Cowdenbeath and added two more appearances while a goal king at Rangers, showed a scoring touch himself with one of five tries in an entertaining match all the more compelling for the grit shown by the hosts in fighting back from 5-18 after 42 minutes.
But it was Reid’s stirring bursts from off the back of the scrum that particularly caught the eye in a contest where Watsonians’ Danny Moussa had perhaps the game of his life at prop marked by a try, strong carries and subtle off-loads.
Later Reid, who graduated to the Accies first team aged 17 through the innovative North Edinburgh BATS scheme which provides a pathway for promising youngsters at Broughton, Accies and Trinity, revealed himself to be a student of the game as well as a real prospect.
“On joining Accies from Trinity Academy I became aware of the history of the club [Scotland’s oldest] and made sure I sat down and read a book brought out to mark the club’s 150th anniversary.
“We have a saying at Accies that whenever times are tough on the pitch we look down at the badge on our jersey to remind us what we are playing for and we had to dig out the win today. Only a win was going to keep us in the hunt for promotion and I think the hunger we had to show ended up the difference between the teams.”
Capped by Scotland under-19s at rugby league, Reid is also a beacon for a growing nursery at Telford College that includes Murray Craig (ex-Scotland A), Rob Chrystie (ex-Borders and Bath), Jamie Parker (Heriot’s) and Andy Muir (ex-Currie)
Accies coach Simon Cross – an ex professional back rower – summed up Reid’s potential, saying: “Callum was very dynamic with some very good carries. I made a mistake taking him away from No. 8 (to flanker) when Andy Lamb was injured because he looked very good at the base of the scrum.”
Others to be acknowledged by Cross included second row forward Greig Campbell whose work at the front of the line-out was a feature in withstanding the Watsonian rally.
Cross added: “Fair play to our boys in the last seven or eight minutes for working their way up the pitch with some clever driving line-outs.
“Key for me lay in the fact our guys found a way to win but I feel for Watsonians and their coach, Marcus Di Rollo, because they were the better side while we made too many unforced errors and should have had a bigger lead at half-time.”
Accies, whose free-scoring wing Jake Knight was well marked by Ally Rowe, started furiously but got no change out of a Watsonian side who took a shock lead when Danny Moussa rumbled over.
The response was a brilliant running line from Andy Lamb to send Reid over and the first successful goal-kick saw Ruaridh Bonner put Accies 8-5 ahead with a penalty. Bonner also converted when, just before the interval, scrum half Johnny Adams pounced on a ragged Watsonian scrum heel and a further penalty almost on the restart put Accies 18-5 in front. “They call the period before and after half-time championship minutes and we conceded ten points then which was where Accies won it. That was the story of the game,” said ex-Scotland star Di Rollo who, considering an injury list which meant he was among those ruled out and flanker Paul Tuala had to play centre, did not need to be too disconsolate.
His team did have a couple of awkward penalty attempts by sub Mike Ker that might have added to tries from the twinkle-toed Jack Ferguson (converted by Brian Walls) and the more direct Ben Di Rollo. But the inability of Watsonians to close out a match in which they won the try count 3-2 was as much a matter of Accies’ resolve as their inability to summon up the killer blow on a day when referee Alan Campbell maybe dealt leniently with one tackle of the type that earned a Welshman a World Cup semi-final red card but nevertheless had contributed to the spectacle with a light touch on the whistle.
Watsonians: Tries - Moussa, Ferguson, Di Rollo. Conversion - Walls.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries - Reid, Adams. Conversion - R Bonner. Penalties - R Bonner (2).
Watsonians: A Chalmers, A Rowe, D Brown, P Tuala, J Ferguson, B Di Rollo, B Walls, D Moussa, A Ross, K Coertze, C Harvey, M Rennie, N Dennis, M Johnson, D Dunnet. Subs: C Martin, M Ker, H Grant, D Keenan.
Edinburgh Accies: E Bonner, N Armstrong, R Browne, I Berthinussen, J Knight, R Bonner, J Adams, D McLeod, M Liness, C Murray, G Campbell, T Drennan, D Teague, C Reid, A Lamb. Subs: C Black, K Blyth, M Gordon, G Douglas.
Referee: A Campbell (SRU).