GHA RFC MATCH 258: FALKIRK RFC 17 – 21 GHA RFC
2012/2013: Scottish Championship A
|A. Krelle||15||S. Lang|
|A. Penman||14||R. Jericevich|
|F. Lyle||13||H. O’Hare|
|G. Gilliland||12||A. Henderson (c)|
|M. Morrell||11||J. Brogan|
|L. Bonar||10||D. Dunn|
|D. Ritchie||9||A. Gillman|
|K. Burney||1||M. Kidd|
|A. Simpson||2||J. Malcolm|
|G. Simpson||3||S. Fisher|
|W. Hansen||4||J. Auld|
|C. Roland||5||R. Jenkins|
|M. Larson||6||D. Malcolm|
|N. Watts||7||P. Harkins|
|A. McCube||8||G. MacDonlad|
|I. Thompson||16||S. Spowart|
|L. Miller||17||A. Auld|
|S. McCulloch||18||J. Pinder|
|D. Lyle||19||G. Adams|
|Larson (2), F. Lyle||Try||Brogan, Gillman|
|Mr S. Grove-White (Aberdeen)|
“It was a damned close-run thing”, as the Duke of Wellington might have said after Waterloo. The Iron Duke didn’t exactly say that, but the misquotation will do to describe GHA’s victory at Falkirk on Saturday.
A win was uppermost in the minds of each club in the build-up to the match. Whoever achieved it would be the front-runners in the final run-in for the Championship A trophy and promotion to the National League.
This was not a match of flowing rugby which has marked GHA’s rugby for many of their matches this season. Instead of adding to the haul of four-try bonus points they had to graft for every figure on the scoreboard, and at the end the faces of both teams reflected the contest. For the GHA players it was relief as much as pleasure.
GHA lead the race for the title, now with 65 points and two games to play. Both of these are against local rivals; Whitecraigs at home on Saturday, and Cartha a month later away. Cartha are 10 points adrift of GHA though with two games in hand, and it is now more than likely that the championship decider will be between these two next month. Cartha’s other remaining games are against Ardrossan and Dumfries away and Dunfermline at home.
For nearly an hour in the Falkirk match it was the home team who held the upper hand, at least in the scoreline. Ironically, when GHA went ahead of the first time in the match, with 65 minutes played, they were short-handed after Jamie Pinder had been sin-binned for repeated infringements at the breakdown. Almost immediately after the carding the visitors found a way to break Falkirk’s close and solid marking as Andrew Gillman raced clear from halfway up the right touchline for a try that took GHA to a 15-12 lead.
Falkirk led 12-3 at the interval with tries by Matt Larson after just five minutes and Frazer Lyle nine minutes later. Each of them too easily broke tackles to score, and for the remainder of the game the blind-side flanker and the centre continued to trouble GHA, with Larson adding his second try late in the match. Lyle converted his own try, and he had the chance to add to Falkirk’s lead in the final minute before the interval, but his penalty kick went wide.
GHA had phases of pressure in the first half, notably when two attempted pushovers were thwarted, and when the visitors then spun away from close-quarter rugby Hefin O’Hare was denied as he sought a break through on the left. Falkirk were penalised there, and John Brogan kicked the goal as a response to the first home try.
GHA pressure did pay off with a Brogan penalty and try early in the second half, the young wing sprinting up the left touchline after a well worked GHA move. The young winger converted from well out, and on the other flank, 10 minutes later Gillman, scored the breakaway try that put his team ahead for the first time. Soon afterwards GHA could have extended their lead to 10 points if a sortie by O’Hare and Henderson had secured the reward it merited. Henderson was sharp to hack on a loose ball, and O’Hare chased through fast enough to seem to pounce between the posts. But the try was not allowed because of what appeared to be obstruction.
A Brogan penalty goal from 35 metres took GHA to 18-12 after 65 minutes, but Falkirk responded with Larson’s second try, the blind-side flanker driven over from a penalty lineout. Lyle missed the conversion, and Brogan kicked his third penalty goal for 16 points in the match, though in added time he missed another.
GHA Head Coach Gordon MacPherson was pleased with the way his side grinded out the result. He said: “I thought we hung in well when we were under a lot of pressure from Falkirk. They played pretty good rugby but we hung in and ended up getting our reward for doing that. We defended well before half time when we were under a lot of pressure. It wasnt our best performance compared to some of the other games we have played. We had to grind out the result to a certain degree because we didn’t play our free flowing game that we have been playing but that is a credit to how Falkirk played.”
In the interest of accuracy, anent the first paragraph of this report, what Wellington actually said was: “It has been a damned nice thing, the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.”
Source: Bill McMurtrie