2003/2004: Scottish Premiership One



A. Bulloch15C. Sangster
R. Watson14B. Addison
R. West13B. Archibald
I. Leighton12S. Parlane
I. Kennedy11S. McAllister
C. Pothan10I. Noble
S. Cowan9M. McMillan
C. Birchall1C. Allison
G. Inglis2A. Moffat
C. Hastie3M. Hunter
I. Smith4B. McFarlane
J. Eddie5C. Deacons
L. Hazelton6C. White
J. Fitzpatrick7C. Eadie
A. Plastow8S. Renwick
R. Nolan16G. Mountford
A. Williamson17E. Briggs
S. O’Donnell18R. Reid
A. Scott19
Watson (2), Leighton, Kennedy, WestTryAddison
Mr D. Dodds (Gala)

The leafy suburbs of Muirend are hardly the place for wild celebration, but there will have been a run on Chablis on Saturday as GHA recorded a historic first win in Premiership Division One. On a dismal, dreich afternoon, the home side played a smarter game in the conditions, scoring on the break and forcing Stirling County into defensive errors from which their back division profited no less than five times.

The approach was typified by wings Rory Watson, who chased down every loose ball, and Ian Kennedy, who at 18 displayed awareness beyond his years and scored a well-taken try. The five tries also earned GHA their eighth bonus point of the season, a factor which could yet be crucial in the final analysis, and hauling them off the bottom of the table despite Peebles’ win over Watsonians.

Stirling County coach Ian McLean was magnanimous in defeat, accepting that his side’s long-ball game had come unstuck on a quagmire of a pitch. “GHA deserved their win,” said McLean. “They came out with more spirit, more fight about them and played the conditions better than we did. Our game plan was to kick the ball up and get it behind them, but I don’t think we were as effective at that as GHA were.” GHA skipper Andy Plastow, whose return from injury was a huge boost for the side, admitted: “It’s a massive relief, more than anything. We knew we could play good rugby, but that was the first time we put 80 minutes together.” Coach David Wilson insisted GHA could still dig themselves out of the mire and said: “We knew that if the gap was to widen any more it was going to be difficult to claw it back, but the confidence the guys got from this will do them a lot of good.”

GHA opened the scoring after five minutes when Kennedy put over a 40-metre penalty and almost went further in front when Watson sprinted onto Chris Pothan’s kick-through, but Stirling’s Craig Sangster just got there first. Halfway into the first half full-back Alan Bulloch kicked a loose ball forward, Watson set off in pursuit and when the ball slipped from Craig Sangster’s grasp, Iain Leighton was on hand to pick it up and cross the line. Six minutes later Watson got on the scoresheet when he collected a delicately-weighted chip from midfield by Kennedy and rolled over the touchline. GHA had an improbable 20-0 lead by half time. Flanker Lewis Hazleton was first to react when the ball squirmed loose from a ruck and the ball was quickly recycled for Bulloch to feed Watson for his second try, which Kennedy converted.

Stirling came out fighting in the second half, but GHA’s solid defending, marshalled by the fearless and ever-alert Andy Plastow, kept them to a single score by winger Ben Addison on 60 minutes. By then GHA had collected their bonus point as a looping pass from scrum-half Scott Cowan was fielded to Kennedy on the left, who galloped into the corner from 20 yards. GHA’s fifth try came in the last minute. Inevitably it was Watson chased down a long kick and harried Stuart McAllister into spilling the ball into the path of Ross West, allowing the centre to score from close range.

Source: The Scotsman, Monday 1st December 2003

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