GHA 34 Kelso 12
A slight improvement in the weather meant that the pitch had softened enough to allow the match against Kelso to take place on the main pitch. As a result the hardworking and talented 2nd XV deservedly took the honour of playing the first ever match on the new 3g pitch. A very busy club house greeted all who arrived on Saturday. A bumper attendance at the Hutchesons’ Aloysians lunch and the arrival of Kelso and Hamilton sides created an exciting and expectant atmosphere. The day was overcast with a severe chill factor although the pitch looked in good condition despite the vagaries of the weather. Both sides prepared carefully ensuring a thorough warm up before running a myriad of plays.
GHA kicked off and Kelso gathered the ball and immediately engaged the home defence on halfway.Within the first two minutes Kelso were awarded a penalty for a high tackle and Craig Dods kicked long to take play into the home half. Drives by Kev Dryden and Michael Downer made territory for the visitors and GHA had to scamper quickly to clear the immediate danger. Kelso had started in a far sharper frame of mind than the home side. Another penalty for a high tackle allowed Craig Dodds to take play up to the GHA five metre line. An effective catch and release saw the ball being spun through the hands to allow Gareth Walker to score in the corner. The conversion was missed and the score after five minutes was GHA 0 KELSO 5.
On the restart, the visitors were awarded another penalty for a high tackle but this time the home side managed to gather the attempted touch kick and worked the ball away to the twenty two metre line. For several minutes there was a bout of directionless kicking back from both sides and play tended to crab across the pitch with little momentum. After ten minutes it was becoming clear that GHA were struggling to put their game plan forward. Kelso began to grow in confidence against a rather insipid home side . Kelso lost possession deep inside the GHA half and Aaron Purewal made a tremendous break roared on by the home support which took play up to the Kelso twenty two metre line before he was tackled. Kelso dealt with this threat and immediately counter attacked sending a delightful chip through the home defence which forced Grant Mollison to touch down for a drop out. As we reached the twentieth minute there was a slight improvement from the home side and a flurry of concentrated effort took the home side up to the Kelso ten metre line. GHA were awarded a penalty and quick thinking Murray Houston caused consternation amongst visiting ranks by jinking his way through the Kelso retreating players. A further penalty to the home side inside the Kelso twenty two metre area allowed Murray Houston to convert the kick into points and the score after twenty four minutes was: GHA 3 KELSO 5.
A high hanging restart by Kelso was knocked on by the home defence and allowed Kelso to set up an attacking platform well inside the GHA half. In a well executed move the visitors won clean ball and moved it through the hands to allow Andy Tait to score. Craig Dods made a superb job of the conversion to make the score after twenty six minutes: GHA 3 KELSO 12.
Kelso seized the initiative and used a variety of ploys, forward drives, missed passes inter passing between forwards and backs to drive the game into the home half. GHA seemed to struggle to put phases together and indeed looked strangely out of sorts with a series of dropped passes and knock ons and a penalty count which threatened retribution from the referee. As we passes the half hour mark the game reached a pivotal stage . Kelso pressed the home side into their twenty two metre area and a series of patient drives and recycling and forward carries stretched the home defence into their five metre area. In an amazing eight minute spell, Kelso were awarded a number of penalties and each time in front of the posts elected to scrum. In the midst of this avalanche of penalties Tony Brogan was yellow carded. Incredibly, the GHA defence held firm as the visitors became increasingly frustrated at their failure to get the ball over the line. As we approached half time there was an altercation deep inside the GHA half between the sides which resulted in Murray Hastie being yellow carded. The home side wasted no time in clearing the danger and took play up to halfway. From recycled ball a stunning passing movement between several backs including Ben Addison and George Baird tore holes through the startled Kelso defence to allow George to score in the corner to unbridled joy from his team mates and the home support. The conversion was missed and the score at half time was now : GHA 8 KELSO 12.
Suddenly GHA had sprung into life after desperate defending on their own line. They had started very sluggishly and had allowed Kelso to control the match. The visitors looked totally shocked by this turn around of events and several were seen to shake their heads in disbelief as they gathered together at the interval.
There was a marked difference in the body language of the home side as they strode out to engage Kelso in the second half.From the start of the half, Sean Fisher, Dario Ewing Adam Kerr and Jamie McCarthy thundered into their opponents and visibly knocked them back. The home support rallied behind the Braidholm lads delighted to witness this utter transformation in the GHA personnel. Within three minutes of resuming the match, Sean Fisher burst through in the loose to score. George Baird converted and the score was now: GHA 15 KELSO 12.
Kelso’s restart kick was gathered by the home side and the ball was passed through the hands cutting swathes through the visitors. As Kelso desperately back tracked in an attempt to prevent further inroads a sweeping passing movement by the GHA backs set up Aaron Purewal to score a delightful try. The conversion failed and the score after five minutes of the half was now: GHA 20 KELSO 12.
The visitors were clearly struggling to comprehend how the fortunes of this match had changed and the home side seemed to sense a feeling of disarray amongst the Kelso players. GHA began to dominate the set piece, disrupting Kelso line out ball and pushing the visitors off the ball in the scrum. The GHA forwards were working tirelessly to catch and drive and to create good field positions for their eager colleagues in the backs.. Messrs Kaspar and Sutherland were a constant thorn in the side of the Kelso forwards aided and abetted by the rest of the home forwards. As we passed the ten minute mark the sheer resolve of the home side allowed them to hammer at the Kelso line. Several attempts to go over were thwarted by the visitors but a desperate attempt to steal the ball and negate the pressure resulted in the fifteenth minute a penalty try being awarded to GHA. The score was now: GHA 27 KELSO 12.
To their credit, Kelso gathered themselves and with some judicious line kicking from quick possession took play up to the GHA five metre line. Kelso made a huge attempt to get over the line and only stout defence prevented a breach in the GHA line. Kelso elected to try and run the ball wide to stretch the home defence but in the resulting engagement, GHA scrambled the ball clear. Carefully, the home side began to press the Kelso forward back into their own half. After twenty minutes Kelso found themselves trying to prevent the home side from getting over the line. Impressive tackling seemed to have stopped the GHA progress until a lovely incisive passing movement between forwards and backs released Ben Addison to go over to score. George Baird converted to make the score after twenty five minutes: GHA 34 KELSO 12.
The visitors were having difficulty in finding their man in the lineout so great was the pressure on the jumper from the home side. This tended to add to the frustration in Kelso ranks and a number of not straight calls from their thrown in added to their problems. The match finished with GHA looking to mount an attack from halfway against the visitors. The final score was: GHA 34 KELSO 12.
It had been an astonishing turn around by the home side. The score on half time seemed to galvanise the whole squad and awaken them from the strange insipid state in which they had begun the match. Kelso failed to recover from the loss of a try just before half time and had no answer for the quality of play the home side produced in the second half.
GHA: G.MOLLISON A.SPOWART B.ADDISON J.BERGER A.PUREWAL C.KING M.HOUSTON T.BROGAN L.BARRON S.FISHER B.KASPAR J.McCARTHY A.KERR D.EWING J.SUTHERLAND – REPLACEMENTS: F.FAULDS M.FOX G.BAIRD M.MacFARLANE C.LONERGAN
SCORERS: T – ADDISON, BAIRD, FISHER, PUREWAL, PENALTY C – BAIRD (2), PENALTY P – HOUSTON
KELSO: M.HASTIE G.WALKER K.WILSON G.MEIN M.WILSON C.DODS P.HUME M.DOWNER C.MARSHALL b.ROBERTSON A.THOMPSON A.COMMON T.WICHARY C.BROWN K.DRYDEN – REPLACEEMTNS: C.SWEENEY K.MEIN J.WALKER A.TAIT R.TWEEDIE
SCORERS: T – TAIT, WALKER C – DODS
REFEREE: Mr C CLARK
ASSISTANT REFEREES: MR J RYDER & MR J BEATON