By Chris Nairn

Saturday offered the opportunity for the home support to watch GHA play on the first fifteen pitch for the first time this year!  Such has been the ravages of the weather, that matches have been postponed or in one case played on the JWF 3G pitch. Despite this the home side took to the field following two excellent victories and were looking to make it three in a row. Biggar had won the corresponding match at Hartree Mill earlier in the season and were seeking a double against their Glasgow rivals. A day of sunshine, rain and wind greeted the players on arrival, a biting cross-field wind would make handling and kicking difficult and a slanting sun made pitch perception for the players difficult throughout the match until late on when dark clouds rolled in. The pitch was soft but would hold a stud and there was an air of expectation in the ground as the last time these two met over eighty points were exchanged!

Both sides went through a thorough preparation and the junior section of GHA- holding flags which threatened to carry them off- provided a guard of honour.  A well-attended club dinner saw those who had enjoyed the repast joining the crowd before kick-off.

Biggar kicked off and the home side gathered and took the ball into contact. Michael Fox, as he was to do all afternoon, took the ball into the heart of the Biggar defence before recycling. Andrew Goudie began searching for areas to exploit in the Biggar defence inside their half while, for several minutes the home side moved the ball in fluent movements between forwards and backs looking to break the Biggar defence down. The visitors held out and slowly began to settle and indeed grow in confidence with several forays into the GHA half. A penalty to Biggar allowed a huge wind assisted kick to take the match to outside the GHA twenty-two metre area. The home side knocked on and Biggar were given an opportunity to strike at GHA from the scrum. Despite the efforts of the GHA back division to stem the danger, Biggar moved the ball quickly through hands and scored. A narrow miss from the attempted conversion meant that the score after six minutes was GHA 0 BIGGAR 5.

The visitors had scored from their first concerted attack after several minutes of GHA pressure. The manner of the Biggar try was a concern as the visitors seemed able to find gaps in the normally resolute home defence. Suddenly Biggar seemed to sense that GHA were unsettled by conceding an early score and with promptings from Messrs Stewart and Jackson, with close forward support, began to ask questions of the home side. In the tenth minute after sustained pressure, GHA conceded a penalty deep inside their half and Gregor Lang managed to convert off the post to make the score: GHA 0 BIGGAR 8.

In this early period GHA had gone from being well organised and compact to a side which seemed to be struggling to hold their shape and put consistent attacking plays together.

Gregor Drummond restarted for GHA and Biggar gathered and with a spring in their step used Ryan Whitefield amongst others to take the match into the GHA half. This Biggar attack broke down at the GHA ten metre area and from the resulting scrum GHA moved the ball to allow Scott Derrick to make a searing break which turned the Biggar defence and brought loud encouragement from the GHA support. Suddenly GHA were moving as one and executing at speed. The accuracy of their approach play startled Biggar, who conceded a penalty which George Baird moved quickly to allow Scott Derrick to power over in the corner. The conversion failed but the try suggested that, who seemed to be struggling to find consistency, might build on this score GHA 5 Biggar 8.

Biggar had no intention in sitting back and from the restart pressurised the home side into mistakes. From a lineout at halfway some lovely interplay between the Biggar backs flat footed the home defence and a gap appeared to allow Rowan Stewart to run through unopposed, scoring to great acclaim from the visiting support. The try was converted and after eighteen minutes the score was GHA 5 BIGGAR 15.

The home side took several minutes to recover from this blow but began to refocus on the task in front of them. The home side put several patches of good support play in position and forced Biggar on to the backfoot. George Baird and Max MacFarlane made incisive snipes into the Biggar half before play moved to a lineout deep inside Biggar territory. Accurate ball retention by Adam Kerr allowed the home side to drive for the line. Michael Fox led the breakout charge before Adam Kerr shot over to score a very well executed try. Gregor Drummond converted the try and after twenty-seven minutes the score was now GHA 12 Biggar 15.

Astonishingly from the restart Biggar quickly reestablished some dominance of the proceedings and Rowan Stewart was able to move straight through yet another gap in the GHA rearguard with a diagonal run which defeated the cover defence to score to huge cheers from the Biggar support. The conversion failed and after thirty minutes the score was now GHA 12 BIGGAR 20.

Once again Biggar had struck back quickly after GHA scored and showed an ability to punish mistakes. This setback seemed to make the home side realise that they were contributing to their own downfall and there was a decided visible tightening in the coherence of GHA play as we moved into the last ten minutes of the half. There were spirited drives into the Biggar half by a number of GHA players with the ball being carefully recycled and taken in again. There was some lovely interpassing between the GHA back line as Biggar attempted to stem the advances of the home side. Andrew Jardine was yellow carded for interference and the home side used the resulting penalty to take play up to the Biggar twenty-two metre area. Poor execution allowed Biggar to ease the pressure with a kick to touch. From the resulting lineout at the Biggar ten metre area Darrio Ewing, as always ably supported by Luke McCutcheon, made inroads into the Biggar defensive zone and critically retained possession as the rest of the GHA forwards arrived with intent. In a breakout some smashing passing between Messrs MacFarlane and Lonergan (whose penetrative runs in harness were hurting Biggar) resulted in a score which was converted. The score at half time was GHA 19 BIGGAR 20. 

It had been an odd half of rugby. Neither side seemed able to dominate for periods of time and Biggar showed an excellent ability to clinically exploit GHA errors. For their own part the home side would have to look at where the inconsistent approach came from and attempt to eradicate it in the second half.

As the second half began the heavy rain which had begun just before the interval slackened to some extent. There was however, a noticeable increase in the cold factor as the biting wind chilled to the bone. The excellent cameo of attacking rugby from our Primary Four players and their coaches warmed the cockles of all present during the interval.

GHA kicked off and immediately went on the attack with Michael Fox and his willing adjutants Kilpatrick, Callaghan and McCutcheon in close support. This took play into the Biggar half and the home side seemed to be setting themselves up for a sustained launch at the opposition. However, the move broke down and once again a lightening response from Biggar saw Fraser Jackson make an inspired break which was only stopped in the GHA five metre area. Following confusion at a line out breakdown, Biggar were awarded a penalty and quick hands and a slow response from GHA allowed the visitors to score right through the heart of the home defence. The conversion was unsuccessful and after around forty-three minutes the score was now: GHA 19 BIGGAR 25.

Once again Biggar had hit GHA hard and there was now a clear belief amongst the Borderers that they could go on to dominate this match. The fact that they did not says a lot about the character of the GHA squad who realised that a return to their normal resolute and coordinated approach to the game plan was urgently required. As such, one the home side thundered into the action driving Biggar deep into their own half and on to the back foot. From a catch and drive at the Biggar twenty-two metre line, GHA in tight forward formation sucked in the Biggar pack and rumbled through to score to acclaim from the home support who recognised the effort that the home side were now applying in all phases of the match. A smashing conversion from the boot of Gregor Drummond put GHA in the lead after around forty six minutes GHA 26 – BIGGAR 25.

There was a visible animation amongst the home side now as players supported each other across the pitch. As we passed the fiftieth minute some lovely pass and support work from Messrs Callaghan, Kerr, Goudie and Derrick won yardage into the Biggar half before the ball went forward. As GHA looked to build a platform to launch an attack deep inside Biggar territory, Max MacFarlane was yellow carded for an offence and Biggar relieved the pressure. However, as the visitors attempted to move the ball into the GHA half, they were met by a defensive line of GHA players who had thrown off the earlier mantle of inconsistency. Suddenly Biggar found themselves going sideways and backwards as an increasingly effective GHA defence forced them back. Passing the fifty fifth minute saw a penalty awarded against the increasingly harassed Biggar side. GHA converted the penalty, and the score was now GHA 29 BIGGAR 25.

Despite this pressure Biggar continued to try and take the match to GHA. Andrew Jardine made yardage into the GHA half but the ball was lost as his team mates were slow to support. Brave Biggar refused to surrender, and the home side was forced to repulse spirited efforts around their ten metre area with accurate tackling and closing down of space. There was a rise in tension amongst the players which exploded in the sixtieth eight minute when players from both sides became involved in a heated argument. The referee spoke to both captains and the players were left in no doubt that such behaviour must cease immediately. GHA were now enjoying some effective breaks through the clever footwork of Messrs Fox, Ewing, Stewart ,MacFarlane and Kerr. These breaks were cutting gaps into the Biggar rearguard and turning their defensive alignment, especially between their ten metre and twenty-two metre area. In one such move as we approached the final ten minutes, Kyle Dixon created space deep inside the Biggar half to allow Andrew Goudie to go over. The score with an excellent conversion was now GHA 36 BIGGAR 25.

The final few minutes saw a number of attacks from GHA stymied by brave tackling from the visitors. The continuity and accuracy of GHA play was a direct contrast to some of the seemingly confused play earlier in the game. Brimming with confidence now and moving the ball with elan, the home side completed the scoring with a try and conversion in the final minutes of the game. Final score: GHA 43 BIGGAR 25.


GHA secured their third victory in a row against a dogged opponent who exploited superbly the first half confusion/ indecision in home ranks. Gradually the home side returned to their normal powerful well executed rugby and know this is the standard they must consistently provide.






Thanks to MR I Robin for furnishing details of officials.


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