EK maintained their unbeaten 2012 with a tense finish at Glasgow Accies. No 13 Shankie slotted a difficult penalty with the last kick of the game. Great stuff.
EK secured their second successive victory of the New Year, in a tense finish at Glasgow Accies on Saturday. Down 3-0 at half time, then 6-0, to penalties, EK came back in the second half with an unconverted try by fullback Ed Mackenzie (6-5).
It looked as if their chance to snatch a late lead had disappeared when centre Scott Shankie was unsuccessful with a penalty in the 77th minute from some 40 metres, then a snap drop goal from about 35 metres.
Somehow, EK managed to press the hosts back on their five yard line, and forward pressure earned a last minute penalty for holding on in a ruck.
The crowd fell silent, as Shankie lined up his penalty attempt – a difficult kick of some 30 yards on the angle. The large EK travelling support erupted as the kick sailed between the posts, seldom wavering in the strong wind.
EK were deserved winners, although they made it hard for themselves, and even harder for their supporters to watch. On a horrible day for any kind of outdoor sport (apart from perhaps paragliding), the wind and rain had a rather more limited impact on the quality of the game than one might have anticipated.
One can say that as your reporter was happily ensconced in the back of the Accies stand, protected from the elements. The players were not so lucky and both sides should be congratulated for playing as much open rugby as they did.
Accies had the benefit of the elements in the first half, but must have been concerned at half time, having secured only one penalty, and never threatening the EK try line. EK started strongly with good charges down both flanks only just being repelled by Accies.
The EK forwards would have been distraught had they not won. They all put in a tremendous amount of work, and while some of it was rather sloppy, and the front of the line out malfunctioned regularly until the final quarter, it was to prove the platform for the final charge.
Accies tried to run the ball back in the second half but for all their half breaks and good running, they never got close enough regularly enough to the EK line. Good EK tackling kept them pretty much outside the two 22 metre lines.
The EK support could have had a better armchair view had EK’s backs sought to use the elements more to their advantage in the second half. Why run the ball back on a horrible day when a well struck kick provides position and put the opposition under pressure. EK’s tactical kicking is still naive, and extremely inconsistent. We continue to live in hope.
That said both scores came from kicks! A long Greenfield punt gave winger Ian Brown a chance to chase the ball; while he overran it (in a circular motion – blame the slippery conditions), Accies got themselves in a mess and full back Ed Mackenzie dived on the loose ball. Try, somewhat out of the blue.
It gave EK heart and led to the final, dramatic moments. All credit to Shankie for having the confidence to go for the kick – well there was no time for a line out and big Ally Dalgleish told him firmly that he “could do
it – be positive!!” And do it he did........
It was sweet revenge for our narrow defeat to Accies at home last year 6-9. Our opponents, while disappointed, took it well, and were very gracious in defeat.
This victory maintains the unbeaten run of 2012 (two matches!) but with the next 2 games against Waysiders next week at home, and away to Newton Stewart on February 18th, EK’s ambition of going through the remainder of the season unbeaten remains a possibility. There remains the small challenge of the league leaders on 3 March but let’s not get ahead of ourselves – one game at a time.
Man of the Match: Scott Shankie, for his match winning penalty. Who else could it be?
Team: 1 Chris Mclellan; 2 Calum Aitken; 3 Stephen Millar; 4 Ally Dalgleish; 5 Paul Rosie (Captain); 6 Gareth Jones; 7 Sandy Bruce; 8 Gary Thornton; 9 Fraser Little; 10 Robbie Greenfield; 11 Ian Brown; 12 Graeme (slow motion) Blackwood; 13 Scott Shankie; 14 Nathan Ross; 15 Ed Mackenzie. Subs: David Rosie (EK’s Mr Versatile); Craig Ferguson Junior; Ross Stewart (Ross was lucky/unlucky – take your pick - to stay warm in the stand).
Next week: EK play Waysiders at Torrance House, kick off 2 pm. It may be robust........