2013/2014: West Cup – Group C



L. Tyley15C. Binnie
G. Fletcher14R. Jericevich
K. Smith13H. O’Hare
(c) B. McGroarty12A. Henderson (c)
M. Frizzell11J. Couper
K. Diffenthal10D. Dunn
A. McDougall9M. Houston
R. McGhee1J. White
A. McMichael2G. King
D. Paton3S. Fisher
A. Abernethy4J. Auld
M. MacDonald5D. Larkin
J. Stewart6R. Jenkins
A. Love7P. Harkins
C. Robb8A. Auld
L. Campbell16S. Carson
L. Hoodless17S. Gallacher
S. Bellew18R. Smith
J. Kemp19N. Cassie
20S. Lang
McGroarty, TyleyTryA. Auld, Binnie,  Couper, Dunn, Houston, Larkin, O’Hare
SmithConLang (2), Houston
Mr J. Shaw (West RS)


GHA ran out comfortable winners in a keenly fought contest against Greenock Wanderers on Saturday to set up a winner takes all tie against Dalziel at Braidhdolm this coming weekend.

Saturday’s game at Fort Matilda belied the wet and windy conditions to serve up an entertaining afternoon of free flowing rugby, with both teams eager to run the ball at any opportunity. However, the visitors outgunned Wanderers in the forwards and outmanoeuvred them in the backs in an impressive performance that even had the Wanderers support applauding in admiration at times.

The match was not without positives for the Greenock men though and stand-off Kenny Diffenthal came through his first game in 18 months and gave a polished performance that belied the fact he had been absent for so long. Leigh Tyley looked much more comfortable in his familiar full-back berth and skipper Brendan McGroarty and Kieren Smith’s personal duel with former internationals Hefin O’Hare and Andy Henderson ended pretty much even. Callum Robb, Murray McDonald, John Stewart and Andy Love all battled bravely in Wanderers’ cause at the breakdown and the pack in general worked hard to contain a much larger and well-drilled visiting eight.

GHA fired out of the blocks and posted notice of their intentions in the opening minute. Possession was secured from the kick-off and two phases of play were set up in central midfield before scrum-half Murray Houston released his back division. Crisp distribution across the three-quarter line ended with full-back Chris Binnie and he sped in at the corner for the opening try.

Wanderers steadied the ship throughout the rest of the opening quarter but on 26 minutes visiting hooker Glen King took a heel against the head. A scrum was put in 25 metres out from the locals’ goal-line. Number eight Alan Auld broke down the short side of the scrum and a simple three-on-two overlap was executed to perfection with winger James Couper dotting down in the corner.

On 32 minutes more misery was piled on Wanderers as the Clarkston-based outfit went through the phases with some excellent interlinking play, incorporating both forwards and backs. As the attack edged closer to the Greenock line, scrum half Houston was the man who added his name to the score sheet by burrowing over from short range. He converted his own try to stretch the GHA lead to 17-0.

Wanderers stuck to their task and Andy Love reacted to some loose ball at the tail of the lineout 20 metres from the visitors’ goal-line. He set up the ruck and scrum-half Andy McDougall fed skipper McGroarty who picked a fine line through the GHA rearguard to touch down. Smith converted to reduce the deficit to 17-7.

The final word of the half though went to the men from Braidholm as they launched another impressive attack just on the half-time whistle. A quick ball was recycled through several phases and when the ball was spun from the breakdown stand-off Dominic Dunn ghosted through the Wanderers defence to give his side a 22-7 cushion at the interval.

Greenock started brightly in the second period and on 43 minutes Diffenthal launched an attack from his own 22-metre line with a beautifully disguised pass to Smith who blasted through the gap. Smith carried play 40 metres before passing to McGroarty who added his pace to the move. When the Wanderers skipper was felled just inside the visitors’ 22-metre line his pass was collected by Leigh Tyley who breezed over for the score.

Thereafter it was one-way traffic as GHA reasserted themselves and the locals were forced into a rearguard action. On 58 minutes the textbook catch and drive off secure lineout ball was faultlessly executed as the GHA pack marched Wanderers’ forwards back 25 metres over their own goal line. Auld was credited with the try once the ruck of bodies cleared. Replacement kicker Scott Lang converted from wide on the left to increase the lead to 29-12.

Wanderers impressed with some sterling work in defence and they held out until the 70th minute when second row Declan Larkin barged over from short range after several breenges at the line had been repelled. Lang’s conversion from wide on the right this time was unerring.

With the match well into stoppage time a loose defensive clearance kick from Wanderers was collected some 30 metres out and the GHA backs fashioned a move down the left flank that gave O’Hare the opportunity to breeze in untouched to complete the scoring.

The kick off for this Saturday’s crucial final group game is 2pm.

Source: Bill McMurtrie & Greenock Telegraph, Monday 9th December 2013

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