GHA 53 Aberdeen Grammar 17

Braidholm is the place to be for try-scoring these days. Twice this month GHA have racked up eight tries in a home match, and the result in each has been a half-century of points – 52 in the league game against Kelso, and on Saturday 53 in the BT Cup first-round match against Aberdeen Grammar.

Those two big wins were sandwiched by the heavy defeat by Howe of Fife. Not only was that setback tossed into the background but the cup-tie victory was achieved with a much changed team. Only six players remained from the cuffing at Cupar, and with Chris Binnie and Andy Henderson unavailable, it was opportunity to promote second XV players as well as bringing in a couple of newcomers, Zé Abrantes, a centre who has played for Portugal under-20, and Andrew Grant-Suttie, a Scotland under-18 international from North Berwick. The latter put in an eye-catching shift as a genuine number 7.

It helped also that Peter Jericevich was back at stand-off to pull the strings, though the basis of GHA’s success was well and truly founded in the scrum. That owed much to Sean Corrigall’s return to the engine-room after his New Zealand sojourn. Only in the middle of the second half, while uncontested scrums had to be played because of a Grammar yellow card, were GHA denied domination in that phase of the game.

That scrummage power was evident as soon as the match started. Grammar’s kick-off failed to go 10 metres, and the home pack’s drive earned a penalty from which Murray Houston’s kick was wide from more than 40 metres. The game’s second scrum similarly produced a penalty for GHA, and from the subsequent lineout the ball was swung across the field for Rangi Jericevich to score in the corner in seven minutes. Not to be outdone, his brother, Peter, soon had a solo try off a scrum 25 metres out.

Bracketed by the brothers’ tries, Ali Addy kicked a penalty goal for Grammar, and with Murray Houston converting Peter’s score, the home team led 12-3 midway in the first half. By half-time they were more than halfway to what was to be their eventual tally. Grant Neilson went in on the blind side off a lineout, Houston missed the conversion but added a penalty goal, and as the finale to the first half Rangi Jericevich and Grant-Suttie linked to send Andrew Gillman over.
Houston converted from the touchline for a 27-3 lead at the interval, and another Peter Jericevich break off scrum ball created a try for Ben Addison nine minutes into the second half. Houston again added the goal points.

It was then that the game took a strange turn as two Grammar players, Andrew Ovenstone and Fergus McKenzie, were yellow-carded in quick succession. Both were deemed to have denied GHA clean possession close to the goal-line, and the latter’s departure meant 10 minutes of uncontested scrums.

Yet for nearly 20 minutes Grammar had their best phase of the contest. Their pressure first procured the sin-binning of Peter Jericevich and immediately a try and conversion for Addy.
As soon as the contest returned to the scrums the GHA dominance returned, but off lineout ball in the home 22 Aaron Robertson charged over for a try that Addy converted.

That cut GHA’s lead to 34-17 in 72 minutes. But the home team finished with a trio of tries in the last five minutes. Grant MacDonald sent James Edgar in, Andrew Goudie scored from a Gillman break, and Edgar put Spowart over. Houston converted the first and last of those three.

For a match of such high scoring it also had a large penalty count – 12 against GHA, 18 against Grammar. More than a third of those were in that bizarre phase in the middle of the second half. But it did not detract from the rugby that produced eight tries for the home team. The challenge now for GHA to do much the same for the third home game in a row when Peebles visit Braidholm this coming Saturday.

GHA: Andrew Gillman; Rangi Jericevich, Ben Addison (captain), Zé Abrantes, Andrew Spowart; Peter Jericevich, Murray Houston; Scott Carson, Gordon Campbell, Michael Fox, Adam Barnett, Sean Corrigall, Robert McKinstray, Andrew Grant-Suttie, Grant Neilson – Replacements: Erik Cavan, Lyall Archer, Grant MacDonald, Andrew Goudie, James Edgar.

Scorers: T – Addison, Edgar, Gillman, Goudie, P. Jericevich, R. Jericevich, Neilson, Spowart C – Houston (5) P – Houston

Aberdeen Grammar: Morgan Ward (captain); Alex Ratcliffe, Jamie Gilmour. Tom Alpin, Calum Ruxton; Ali Addy, Sam Knudson; Peter Gillies, Stuart Davis, Colin Neilson, Aaron Robertson, Hamilton Burr, Alasdair Mackie, Robin Cessford, Calum Champion – Replacements: Fergus McKenzie, Frank Selbie, Alex McLeod, Doug Russell., Andrew Ovenstone.

Scorers: T – Addy, Roberston C – Addy (2) P – Addy

Referee: Gordon Corry.

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