“There are no easy games in this league”. Never has Kenny Fairbairn given such
sound advice. After a poor performance last week against Dalziel the GHA 2nd XV
had two solid nights at training ahead of the local derby match against Cartha.
The lineout received much attention; including Fairbairn’s trademark ‘waving
the arms like a helicopter’ demonstration for extra lift at the point of jumping.
The backs ran moves and looked dazzling under the Braidholm lights. All was set
for the derby match of the weekend.

Cartha, who are the bottom of the league, would travel to Braidholm for an
afternoon kickoff against third top GHA. Historically this game has always
been highly contested and no matter the previous form of either team a strong
performance from both sides creates exciting rugby with an unpredictable

Cartha boasted a heavier pack but there was a lot of experience and skill in the
GHA back line, and after a dead locked opening 15 minutes, Cartha put the first
points on the board. Patrick Hilley was questionably penalised for being offside
and after the referee marched the confused GHA back another 10 meters, Cartha
chose to scrum. They used their strength to turn it, releasing the tall No. 8 down
the blind side to score an unconverted try.

It took GHA the rest of the half to recover from the strong Cartha start and it’s
fair to say that the players on the pitch hadn’t expected such fight from their
local rivals. With seconds left in the first half Gordon Adams scored a valuable
try. With a lineout just in the Cartha half the ball was fed left to Brundon
Wamberg, who hit up sucking in the defence. The ball was recycled and Gregg
Taylor linked smoothly with Adams. When the winger went over the line the sigh
of relief from the sideline was enough to shift the overhead clouds. Soon later the
referee’s whistle went for the break, with the score being tied at 5-5 the half time
talk was to be fierce from the coaching team.

Half time changes, David Scott on for Scott Carson, Miller Greaves for Brundon

If the sideline crowds thought the first half performance was questionable then
they were in for a shock in the second. GHA 2nd XV were woeful. While the 1XV
were playing champagne rugby on the adjacent pitch the 2’s were struggling
to play the game it’s self. Even with a solid half time talk from McCormick and
Fairbairn the team frankly fell apart. Cartha mounted a succession of attacks
and scored two converted tries in the same number of minutes both from weak
defense at the back. A problem that has not previously troubled GHA this season.
The score was now 5-19 against the home side.

From the sideline things were looking bleak, I wouldn’t like to imagine the

feeling on the pitch. Before the 20-minute mark had passed there was another 5
points on the board. With a ruck on the GHA 10m line the ball sprung out and the
GHA team did what the supporters could only do, watched. Cartha reacted and
scooped up the ball to glide over the line. Without the conversion GHA were now
down 19 points.

Scott Mathieson gave GHA a glimmer of hope with a try in the 25th minute.
After Cartha conceded a penalty on their 22m line he tapped quickly and ran
towards the line. He scored, but the try was unconverted. I would like to say GHA
rallied on the back of this try, and things improved, I can’t unfortunately. As GHA
finished the first half, Cartha finished the second. A ruck just outside the GHA
22m line led to a score, missed tackles from the home team were to blame and
Cartha added another 7 points to the embarrassing tally. The match promptly
finished with GHA loosing 10-31.

After the game Fairbairn and McCormick were honest with the team. I’ll sum
it up to say that the boys simply didn’t perform on the day. Admittedly taking
part in the biggest Glasgow derby of the weekend was no easy feat for the young
GHA team. Stuart Keenan (injured player) summed it up perfectly, “we simply
didn’t turn up today”, he added in the changing rooms. When Fairbairn was later
pressed for a statement about the game he simply said, “we were pants”. That
maybe says it all for the GHA players. With so much potential in the 2ndXV the
results should return to be more positive. In time I am sure this bad spell will
look like a small set back in what can still be a hugely successful season for the

It goes without saying that there is passion in the team at GHA all the players
are extremely talented. As difficult as it may be to see through the last couple
of weeks for the players other teams at the club have proven they can come
through worse. The players as a group will bounce back with commitment and
support from a second to none coaching team and there will be improvements.
When GHA make the short journey to visit Cartha later in the season I for one am
confident that the result will be more promising for the Braidholm side.

Johnny Leitch

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