Dundee High Rugby 14 GHA 18

Thanks to a late try by James Edgar, GHA are only one game away from a return to Scottish club rugby’s top flight for the first time since 2008. That score by the replacement, barely five minutes from the end, not only grabbed victory against Dundee at Mayfield on Saturday in GHA’s last regular league match of the season but also ensured that the Braidholm club would finish second in the BT National League’s first division.

GHA, as established runners-up in the second flight, have now to take on a play-off against the Premiership’s ninth-placed club at a neutral venue on 25 April. The winners of that play-off will be in the Premiership next season.

However, GHA will have to wait till Saturday this week to know whom they will play in that play-off. That will be decided when Glasgow Hawks and Stirling County meet at Old Anniesland.
Not only did Edgar score that winning try, it was also his break from midfield which led to it. Moreover, between the creation and the fulfilment, GHA produced by far the best phase of continuity that was seen in the match.

Every one of the visitors seemed to be involved after Edgar’s cut from left to right. Play swung back to the left and deeper into Dundee territory as GHA knew they had to keep control of the ball as they were playing into a hefty wind. They hammered the goal-line until the time was right to spin the ball right again for Edgar to go over close to the corner, too far out for Peter Jericevich to convert.

Despite Edgar’s vital role in that score, he had not been in the original starting line-up. He was called in as a replacement only when Niall Cassie dropped out before kick-off. Max MacFarlane stepped up from the bench to join a fellow youngster, Andrew Goudie, as well as the far more experienced Andy Henderson in the midfield trio.

Unfazed by the enforced change, GHA were eight points up in as many minutes. Goudie’s goal from a tackle penalty opened the scoring after barely two minutes, and his precise kick into Dundee’s left corner set up the position for a try by Peter Jericevich. The home forwards messed up the lineout, and the visitors were quick to exploit the loose ball. But the scrum half could not convert his own try.

GHA could not take further advantage from the wind. Nor could their opponents fully exploit those conditions for much of the second half, more than partly because of Chris Binnie’s assurance at full back and willingness to run back whatever Dundee kicked deep. However, GHA were by far the better at playing into the gale. Even when they lost possession and, inevitably, a lot of territory they still worked their back downfield with a handling game. After all, it is easier to play that rugby into a strong wind than against it. But it needs patience to counter any frustrations.

They had to play a controlled game because they had to come back from an 8-14 deficit only nine minutes into the second half. By then Dundee had scored two tries – both off short-range lineouts, both by props.

Stevie Longwell scored the first 15 minutes into the first half. Harry Millar converted, but he missed an ambitious penalty from 40 metres against the wind close to half-time so that the interval score was 8-7 to GHA.

Alan Brown replicated his fellow prop’s try early into the second half, putting Dundee ahead for the first time. Miller converted. However, Peter Jericevich’s try, cutting the home lead to 14-13, seemed to boost confidence for the visitors to keep to the plan, and possession for the next half an hour or so belonged almost exclusively to them.

Millar had the chance to add to Dundee’s lead about 12 minutes form the end. But his penalty was wide, and GHA’s perseverance eventually paid off with Edgar’s try.

Dundee HSFP: Blair Cochrane; Matt O’Sullivan, Duncan Leese, Tim McKavanagh, Ronan Joy; Harry Millar, Josh Rutnagur; Steve Longwell, Darrell Russell, Alan Brown (captain), James Mulligan, Matt Harland, George Arnott, Jonny Petty, Donald Sangster – Replacements: Neil Dymock, Gavin Robertson, Ian Robertson, Rhys McAuley, Ollie Cain.

Scorers: T – Brown, Longwell C – Millar (2)

GHA: Chris Binnie; Rangi Jericevich, Max MacFarlane, Andy Henderson, Alan Auld; Andrew Goudie, Peter Jericevich; Scott Gallacher, Donald Malcolm (captain), Michael Fox, Adam Barnett, Chris McGeough, Andrew Boag, Ross Angus, Grant Macdonald – Replacements: Erik Cavan, Scott Carson, Paul Harkins, Murray Houston, James Edgar.

Scorers: T – P. Jericevich (2), Edgar P – Goudie

Referee: Mr Steven Turnbull.

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