2004/2005: Scottish Premiership One



R. West15S. Briers
R. Watson14J. Reilly
A. Bulloch13M. Clapperton
J. Naufahu12G. Kiddie
R. McClymont11R. Couper
I. Kennedy10S. Hadden
N. MacLeod9C. Cusiter
R. Nolan1R. Mathieson
C. Di Ciacca2D. Cunningham
D. Jamieson3F. Lait
J. Reid4G. McCallum
C. Mason5A. Davidson
J. Eddie6C. Capaldi
A. Boag7A. Martyn
R. Williams8B. Fisher
D. Malcolm16E. Mathieson
J. Beattie17J. Cox
R. Au18A. Hadden
M. Dunn19
Bulloch, Beattie, NaufahuTryFisher (2), Cunningham, S. Hadden, Mathieson, Penalty
KennedyCon Reilly (3)
Mr A. Ireland (SRU)

The news of Melrose’s runaway steamrollering of Gala was announced to the Braidholm crowd just before this game kicked off. Had we also known that Hawick, the other prize scalp in GHA’s sparkling start to the season, were about to be similarly put to the sword by Heriot’s, what followed might have been more predictable.

But when GHA’s two summer signings, the former pros Alan Bulloch and Joe Naufahu, combined in the third minute to post their opening try, after a quick throw in had set full-back Ross West off on a blistering 35-metre break, it seemed entirely possible that GHA had acquired a taste for the thinner air in the upper reaches of the league table and were determined to stay there. If Queen Mary had “Calais” engraved on her heart, however, having presided over the loss of England’s last continental possession, so you might find the word Biggar inside the chest cavity of anyone in the Boroughmuir set-up. David Wilson, the GHA coach said afterwards that he had expected the visitors to be fired up after their previous week’s humiliation, and he had not been disappointed.

Despite the early setback, and some obviously nervy trying-too-hard in the opening exchanges, the visitors gradually settled to their task with a grim determination. In the end, it was continuity that was the difference between the two teams, Boroughmuir building wave after wave of assaults. GHA made the first, second, third, and even the fourth tackle, but still Boroughmuir recycled, popping the ball out of the tackle, driving on, through the middle or down the flanks, a swarming blue and green horde. GHA fought hard and produced some exciting rugby of their own at times in what was an attractive and hard-fought game all round. You know that a game has opened up when you see a second-row forward kicking for touch, as Boroughmuir’s Alistair Davidson was required to do at one point. The two dangerous centres, scrum-half Nicky MacLeod, and Johnny Beattie (son of the more famous radio commentator) who came on after half an hour for the injured Carlo di Ciacca, broke the gain line time and again. The penalty try in the dying seconds made GHA look further behind than they deserved. Had Martin Dunn been able to convert Beattie’s late try a few minutes earlier, they would at least have been in line for a bonus point But while GHA were generally attacking from a distance, Boroughmuir were able to control the ball enough to get close in. GHA had no answer to their driving mauls, especially from lineouts, and although the set-scrums were closely contested, the Boroughmuir breakaway forwards, expertly marshalled by former captain Ben Fisher at No8, generally had the edge on their opposite numbers. Four of their five tries were scored by forwards and that penalty try was for a high tackle on hooker Davie Cunningham under the posts, although it did come at the end of some lovely running in the backs. As it happens, the score that got Boroughmuir back on level terms after about 20 minutes was the one that did come from the backs, after a turnover in midfield had seen the ball go right and James Reilly and Steve Briers combine down the wing. There was a suspicion of a knock-on when Briers was tackled just short and fly-half Scott Hadden scooped up the ricochet to dash over, but the visitors had had what looked like a perfectly good close-range effort from Fisher chalked off a few minutes earlier so there was no great injustice. GHA got their noses in front again with a penalty from Iain Kennedy, but the Edinburgh side turned the screw with two more close-in tries in the first half. It looked vital for GHA to score first in the second half and they did, Naufahu picking the perfect angle and flipping up a cute backhanded pass to Bulloch. But two more tries from Muir were more than a tiring GHA could handle and although Beattie, who tried to do much on his own, did make one of his rampaging runs count, they never quite got back on terms.

Wilson had refereeing complaints about two of the Boroughmuir tries, but no complaints over the overall result. Apart from failing to cope with the Biggar backlash he acknowledged that his side had been beaten by the better side. “I’m not too disgruntled about it. As long as the players absorb the information we can move forward. I think the league will be a close-fought affair. Boroughmuir will be there or thereabouts, but thereafter it could be interesting.” There were at least two rugby dynasties on show, Beattie for GHA, but also Edinburgh coach Frank Hadden’s two boys for Boroughmuir. Scott, at 20 the younger of the two, was making his first start at stand-off and made a very creditable impression. Apart from his try, he moved the ball well, showed a relish to take it on himself, and later on put in a couple of the sweetest of cross-kicks, one of which led indirectly to Boroughmuir’s fifth try. It was brother Andrew, on as a late sub, who beat the cover out wide to set up the final try. “It was good fun” the Newcastle University student enthused afterwards. “It was good to get a game under my belt at that level. It’s the first time Andrew and I have played together. Mum and Dad will be pleased.”

Source: The Scotsman, Monday 13th September 2004

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