SATURDAY 21st OCTOBER 2023
NATIONAL LEAGUE 1
GHA 41 GHK14
By CHRIS NAIRN
Saturday defied recent weather experience by emerging as a reasonably mild day with very little wind. In fact, Braidholm was to be bathed in autumnal sunshine for much of the match. The home side hoped to return to a winning position after losing narrowly to Ayr last weekend. Our visitors from across the city fought out a thrilling draw with Watsonians on the same day. Both sides had hopes of taking the points in this derby match. A busy clubhouse saw a very good attendance at the lunch with Match Sponsors Lindt, and Club Sponsors Tennent’s, Scotcoin, Peter O’Keefe and Exacta Concrete Flooring all in very welcome attendance. The Old Aloysians lunchees swelled the ranks.
The pitch was in super condition again and provided a platform which invited running rugby. Both sides went through a variety of set unit drills before participating in whole squad run throughs. Our superb Junior section provided a guard of honour for the players, some of the young ones just bigger than the club flags they proudly waved! Ball boys drawn from the immaculately attired Junior ranks, Messrs Gregor, Finlay, Lachlan and Harris took up their respective positions. There was a lovely touch at the end of the match when the GHA Squad had their photo taken with the young ones under the posts. Colin and Joyce Robinson, who provide all the very high quality club photography, recorded the moment for posterity.
The home side kicked off with Andrew Goudie sending a long and high searching ball deep into GHK territory. The visitors attempted to run the ball towards halfway but were stopped by the offensive tackling of the home side. The ball was turned over and some lovely driving and handling by Messrs Kerr (who was with several colleagues to put in a power of effective line breaking work all day), Ewing and Fox set up Glen Little to fire his way through GHK ranks to score. The talented boot of Ruairi O’Keefe secured the conversion, and the score after two minutes was: GHA 7 GHK 0. From the restart the visitors attempted to build a presence inside the GHA half, but found the offensive tackling of the GHA back line was forcing them across the pitch and into a maul situation. The home side were winning ball in contact and with the promptings of Messrs McCoss and Goudie, were driving the visitors back with a combination of well-placed kicks, deft chips and well timed and executed linked passes. A lovely feed from Fergus McCoss to Messrs Goudie and Dixon left the visitors floundering in their wake as the home side moved deep into the GHK half. A penalty award to GHA allowed the home side to choose a scrum on the GHK five metre line. A clever move by Messrs McCutcheon, McCoss and O’Keefe resulted in the flying wing going over to score in the corner to great acclaim from the large home support. A difficult conversion attempt just failed and the score after a fast moving opening five minutes was: GHA 12 GHK 0.
Such had been the early dominance of the home side that it seemed that it would take a huge effort, even this early, to see GHK establish parity in the match. However, led by the clever and hardworking duo of Campbell and Busby the visitors began to settle and indeed take the match to GHA.
As we moved past the ten minute mark, a brief period of aerial tennis brought no progress for either side and there was much effort put into retaining possession after this. A sudden frustration began to appear in home ranks with a number of penalties conceded for offside, wrong entry or illegal work on the ground. This was to have the effect of disrupting the early rhythm established by GHA and indeed assisted the visitors to begin to form their own game plan. It would take a while before the home side regained their earlier poise and confidence. As the game moved from end to end, GHK put several phases together and made inroads into the GHA half. Following several further penalties, GHA found themselves deep inside their own twenty two metre area and GHK took full advantage of their position to work a lovely move, putting ball through hands to allow Adam Kennedy (with a superb display of dexterity) to go over and score to the delight of the visiting support. The try was converted, and the score after twenty minutes was now: GHA 12 GHK 7.
This score gave the visitors renewed confidence and they began to ask questions of the home side. GHA suddenly found that the visitors were taking the game to them. Indeed, following the award of another penalty Charlie Greaves- from inside the GHA twenty two metre area- took a quick pass and deceived the home defence to score. The try was converted, and the score was now: GHA 12 GHK 14.
To their credit the home side seemed to realise that a game that had started so well for them had suddenly changed. There was a clear increase in effort and accuracy from the restart and now GHK found themselves on the backfoot. Superb driving and combined work from forwards and backs took play deep into GHK territory and as the visitors struggled to contain the GHA attack. Andrew Goudie from quick ball, put in a lovely long pass which allowed Luis Barron and Glen Little to join forces before Barron went over to score. The conversion just failed, and the score after thirty two minutes was now; GHA 17 GHK 14.
Perhaps because this was a derby and was being keenly contested, the referee had to speak to several players regarding the retention of tempers and observance of the rules. As we moved towards the interval the progress of play was punctured by a number of penalties being conceded by both sides as players became overanxious and approached the loose wrongly or tackled too high. Ruairi O’Keefe received a yellow card having been adjudged to have committed a high tackle. Despite both sides attempting to establish control the interval arrived and would perhaps allow both sides to rediscover their composure and adjust their game plan to the reality of the match. Half time score: GHA 17 GHK 14.
The visitors began the second half with a long restart kick, but the home side gathered and briskly moved into attack mode at the halfway line. Prompted by the maestro Goudie, with his deft chips and ability to find space with his kicks, the home side moved menacingly into the GHK twenty two metre area. There were several breaks through the GHK outer defence especially one searing break by Oscar Lonergan-Black which forced GHK to defend desperately inside their own twenty two. A clever move was finished with consummate skill by Kyle Dixon who scored in the fourth minute of the half. The try was converted, and the score was now: GHA 24 GHK 14.
Undoubtedly, this was an early setback for the visitors who resolved to attempt to fight their way back into the match. GHA on the other hand were clearly back in their rhythm and eager to run the ball at every opportunity. GHK found it difficult to gain territory as the half wore on. Excellent combination work from forward drives, back support and recycling was winning yardage for the home side and put GHK on the back foot. As we moved past the tenth minute of the half, a desperate GHK gave away a penalty for a high tackle and Andrew Goudie elected to kick for goal from inside the GHK ten metre area. The kick was successful, and the score was now GHA 27 GHK 14.
The visitors continued to try and fight their way back into the match despite the growing confidence and control from the home side, but a series of unforced errors and the concession of penalties was hampering their efforts. The home side were still conceding a few penalties themselves which meant good work was being undone. As we moved towards the twenty fifth minute of the half, GHK made a spirited effort deep inside the GHA half to pierce the GHA defence. Solid defensive tackling was required as the visitors enjoyed this purple patch and looked for success in scoring. However, GHA weathered the storm and began to regain their fluidity. A period of sustained forward pressure inside the GHK twenty two metre area allowed the home side forwards to smash over the line to score. A superb conversion from far out by Ruairi O’Keefe made the score after thirty five minutes of the half GHA 34 GHK 14.
In the dying embers of the match the home side utilised a kick to touch following a penalty conceded by GHK to allow Daniel Kilpatrick to gather the ball, peel off and force his way over to score. The try was converted making the score: GHA 41 GHK 14.
This was the final score.
Senior Coach Calum was delighted that the squad had returned to winning ways after the set back of last week.
The home support may have appeared a tad lugubrious recently following the national sides early exit from the World Cup, but the efforts of the home side built on excellent teamwork and skill undoubtedly brought smiles to the Braidholm faithful.
GHK : S.GREIG S.DAVIDSON G.McKIRDY C.GREAVES A.KENNEDY C.BUSBY C.CAMPBELL P.HENDERSON A.COOPER K.BOLES L.FINDLAY T.SPINKS H.BOTTOMLEY C.MOGLIA H.PARKER A.MacLAURIN .M WHYTE L.DAVIES M.WOODS B.HUTTON
GHA: K.DIXON R.O’KEEFE G.LITTLE A.MORRISON S.DERRICK A.GOUDIE F.McCOSS J.LOW L.BARRON M.FOX A.KERR D.KILPATRICK O.LONERGAN-BLACK D.EWING L.MCCUTCHEON R.CAMPBELL C.STIRLING S.CALLAGHAN L.McCORMICK J.TRUESDALE
REFEREE : MR G GALASHAN *
AR I MR W GAFFNEY
A R 2 MR C HALL
* Thanks to our very own Assistant Referee MR IAN ROBIN for provision of officials details.