GHA Gazelles 27 Hamilton 3XV 54
There are occasions where only a cliché will do. This fixture was one such, the proverbial game of two halves.
Within a few minutes of the kick off, Hamilton were seven points ahead, courtesy of a speculative kick downfield, and a rapid follow up by the speedy stand off. The Gazelles could be forgiven for succumbing to that sinking feeling, but it was not to be so. The forward machine kicked into gear, and put a stranglehold on proceedings for the remainder of the half.
From a 5 metre lineout, the pack surged forward, and though the maul was pulled down, the forwards picked up from the ruck, Burns crashing over for an unconverted try.
A pinpoint penalty kick from Tracey took GHA back to the same spot. This time Burns took clean ball at the front of the lineout, Harkness tidied and grounded as the pack drove over with Hamilton unable to resist.
Continued forward pressure then led to the Gazelles third score, with Carpenter being next to capitalise on the forward power. His score under the posts was converted by Tracey.
Carpenter again was on hand for the fourth try. A good handling move down the left wing was initially halted by the Hamilton defence. However they could not scramble sufficient cover to prevent the Gazelles pick up, and the flanker squeezed in at the corner.
With a lead of 22 -7, and half time just seconds away, it appeared that the Gazelles were on course for a similar victory to the previous week.
At this stage, things began to unravel. Just on half time, Harkness was sin-binned for an unnecessary reaction ( though only dignity suffered in the incident ).
Immediately after half time, first Tracey, then MacGregor, departed the field injured. With only one available sub, GHA were down to 13 men, and as Harkness returned, 14 for the remainder of the game.
At half time, Hamilton had clearly worked out what was going wrong, and changed their tactics completely. Cleverly utilizing both their youth and their playing pool to maximum advantage, they set about running the tiring Gazelles ragged.
Two converted tries were scored in quick succession, both the product of their backs scything through the GHA defence, which was looking quite shaky by this stage.
At four tries to three, the Gazelles looked to have stopped the rot as the alert Carpenter grabbed his third, and the Gazelles fifth try, racing in to score after scooping up an overthrown lineout.
But Hamilton hit back, adding another to bring the score to 27 26 for the Gazelles.
A veil should really be drawn over the final quarter. With 14 on the park ( 10 of whom were forwards ) age, fatigue and numerical advantage had the better of GHA, and another 4 tries were conceded in the last period of the game.
The final score of 54 27 did not reflect plenty of endeavour from the Gazelles, but Hamilton should be congratulated for being smart enough to change their game plan so successfully at half time.
Tracey ( Burns 45 minutes )
Burns ( Marshall 30 minutes )