2009/2010: Scottish Premiership Two



C. McKeand15C. Binnie
M. McKeand14R. O’Keefe
S. James13M. Dunn
A. Browning12R. McClymont
A. Goodall11P. Hilley
S. Muir10J. Noonan
D. Reive9A. Gillman (c)
K. Anderson1J. Low
M. Rutherford2I. Nelson
S. Cameron3A. Kelly
F. Hope4M. Gurran
G. Owens5R. Jenkins
A. Cairns6O. Gilmartin
H. Green7J. Pinder
J. Kelly8D. Kellock
A. Peacock16M. Kidd
A. Warnock17G. Warnock
C. Thomson18D. Stoddart
C. Lavery19G. Jones
TBCTryPinder (2), Binnie, Nelson, O’Keefe
TBCConNoonan (3)


After a week off to enjoy Scotland beating Australia GHA travelled to Biggar for the resumption of the league programme. Expectation was high following 2 good wins and even the absence of talisman captain Niall Cassie and forward colossus Ian Smith didn’t diminish the confidence of the squad. In Niall’s absence Andrew Gillman made his debut as 1st XV captain.

Biggar started the day 3 league places above GHA and with their full cohort of overseas stars fit and a formidable home record they must have fancied themselves to get their promotion push back on track. Given the previous weeks dreadful weather the pitch was in excellent condition and dry, still overhead conditions were perfect to play rugby.

GHA received kick off and from the first clearance of the game James Noonan was hit late. The penalty was kicked to touch and from the lineout GHA won a free kick. Two powerful surges by Ian Nelson and Mike Gurran pulled the Biggar defence across the field. Noonan saw the space and an exquisite cross field kick allowed Ruairi O’Keefe to collect and finish brilliantly. The conversion was missed from out wide but it was the perfect start.

Biggar then got into their stride and their forwards took control of the game. A series of penalties allowed them to kick the ball into the corners where the effectiveness of their lineout catch and drive brought them 2 tries in quick succession. The sequence of penalties eventually led to Ian Nelson being yellow carded for collapsing a maul close to the line. Obviously being an upstanding member of the law enforcement community it had nothing to do with him! While down to 14 men GHA decided that tackling was optional and conceded 2 soft tries to let Biggar race into a well deserved 26 – 5 lead. To the GHA player’s credit their heads didn’t go down, even when on the receiving end of the home supports “interesting” banter and their player’s constant “whooping” and high-fiving each other.

A penetrating run from Ross McClymont and some pinpoint kicking from Noonan meant GHA finished the half much the stronger team. Just before the break and with Nelson back on the field Biggar were put under huge pressure on their own line. The second yellow card of the game was shown, this time to the Biggar prop. From the penalty GHA opted for the scrum and drove Biggar back over their line. However the ball was deemed to be held up and the referee decided there was no time for another scrum and blew for half time with the home team 26 – 5 up.

With harsh words from the coaches and captain ringing in their ears the GHA players knew they had to start the 2nd half with a bang. The bang came after 3 minutes when Ian Nelson finished off some excellent driving work by the forwards. James Noonan converted and the players realised that Biggar were vulnerable. The GHA forwards took a vice like grip on the game driven forward by a near perfect kicking display from Gillman and Noonan which the home team simply couldn’t match. With the forwards dominating the scrum and the loose there was more space for Gillman and McClymont to create havoc in the Biggar defence.

A second try followed with Biggar down to 14 men, another period of energy sapping driving from the forwards drove Biggar back towards their line. Gillman spotted space behind the defence and put an inch perfect chip over for Jamie Pinder to run onto and score. The conversion was missed as was a subsequent penalty attempt but at 26 – 17 the game was all of a sudden in the balance.

With Biggar unable to get out of their own half and Mike Gurran and Jamie Pinder starting to make telling runs through a tiring home team defence another try was inevitable. When it came, from another lineout catch and drive it was disallowed for a knock on that only the referee managed to see. Not to be kept down for long though Gillman sliced through the defence, fed Noonan supporting on the inside who delivered a perfect pass for Chris Binnie to go under the posts and score the bonus point try. Noonan added the conversion to close the gap to 2 points with 14 minutes still to play. Another chip from Noonan very nearly put O’Keefe away for his second but this time the touchline saved the home side. However the damage was done and hands on heads from the very subdued home players gave GHA the lift they needed.

Andy Rushforth replaced Martin Dunn and made an impact with some strong direct running which set up the position for Ross McClymont to round the Biggar defence. With training ground simplicity he drew the last man and put Pinder away for his second try. With the conversion added GHA went in front and another penalty took them to 34 – 26 and denied Biggar even a losing bonus.

The proverbial game of two halves saw a 29 point swing in favour of GHA who extend their winning run to 3 matches (2 of them away from home). Next week we welcome Kelso to Braidholm for the first of 3 crucial league encounters before Christmas

Source: Bill McMurtrie

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