Hamilton 25  GHA 22

Conditions at Leigh Bent were ideal for attacking rugby.  Both sides are establishing a reputation  for running rugby which is exciting to watch. Despite a horrendous injury list the home side approached this match as one in which they felt they could turn the corner after several very narrow defeats in free scoring league matches. The visitors encouraged by two successive victories hoped to continue on their winning ways. A guard of honour was provided by a selection of junior section players as both sides took the field. Due to circumstances the report of this match was fashioned from notes taken from the side of the pitch . Whilst such a position offers a view with  limitations it does offer the opportunity to record first hand the incredible commitment and resolve shown by both sets of players at this level.

GHA kicked off with a long kick deep into the home side’s half. Hamilton in attempting to win back a spilled ball from their own five metre area were guilty of an infringement and Peter Jericevich converted the penalty to give GHA a lightning lead after only one minute of play. HAMILTON 0pts. GHA 3pts.

Hamilton immediately took the game to the visitors and on recycled ball a superb break by Andrew Wilson required an excellent tackle by Scott Plumridge to prevent Hamilton scoring. Wilson, the home full back was to ask questions about the visiting sides with his feints and swerves and support play throughout the match. Hamilton pressed hard for a score running the ball at every opportunity a great tackle by Walker Graham stopped a Hamilton break. Peter Jericevich managed to take the pressure off the visitors with a long kick to touch which took play right up to Hamilton’s twenty metres area. However with eight minutes gone the home side cleared the danger and returned to pressing the GHA defence.

A feature of the match was the fluidity of the Hamilton backs who moved the ball across the park looking for weaknesses in the GHA defence. Several promising Hamilton moves were stopped by tremendous tackling and cover tackling by the visitors.  Hamilton certainly at the twelth minute stage had territorial dominance but could not break down the stubborn resistance of GHA. On at least two occasions try scoring opportunities for the home side were squandered by slipped passes or knock ons.  Both sides were continuing to run the ball at pace and only gradually did Hamilton begin to use their powerful scrum to win clean ball. A period of sustained Hamilton pressure was broken around the fifteenth minute mark with a long penalty clearance by Peter Jericevich. Hamilton for some reason began to rush their passing   and several passes went adrift in their own half to be gathered in by the eager visiting side. A clever break by scott Plumridge and Charlie Lonergan  took the visitors deep into the home half of the pitch and only desperate scrambled defence saved the day for the home side. There then followed up to the twentieth minute a period of bizarre attempts at long passing by both sides resulting in forward passes or knock ons. This made the game untidy and prevented one side maintaining supremacy. A factor in this problem may well have been the fact that both sets of backs were up very quickly to engage their opponent. It also had the effect of encouraging some inaccurate kicking which either went straight out or merely handed the ball and the initiative to the opposition. Despite this the spectators were enjoying the cut and thrust and spills of the match as play moved across and up and down the pitch. After around twenty two minutes Andy Goudie tackled an opponent to the floor and turned the ball over to his side and on returning to his position put a clever grubber kick through from recycled ball which caused panic in the home defence but was scrambled clear. GHA had made several very promising breaks from midfield only to have the ball turned over when the ball carrier had support arriving too late to help him. Despite this in another well rehearsed switch move Grant Mollison juggled the ball before securing it and diving over to make the score after twenty three minutes : HAMILTON 0pts GHA 8pts. Peter Jericevich put over the conversion from a difficult angle to make the score : HAMILTON 0pts GHA 10pts.

The visitors had had to repel some probing attacks from Hamilton and indeed GHA had looked equally dangerous in their incursions into the Hamilton half of the pitch. Both sides were playing at a very fast pace and rushed passes and even accidental passes to players in the wrong position was making it difficult to discern a pattern to the match other than the clear intention of both sides to run the ball at every opportunity. There was also an overeagerness of both sides to engage in the loose and forget the rules of engagement… coming in offside or indeed not releasing the ball on the ground. After twenty five minutes GHA were penalised for such an incident and to the cheers of the home spectators Owen McLeish converted from inside the visitors half to make the score : HAMILTON 3pts GHA 10pts.

Hamilton siezed the initiative and in several scrums inside the GHA half won ball and pushed the visitors pack back.This galvanised the home side but they still tended to use their set piece power to release quick ball to their backs rather than at this stage seek to keep the ball in the pack.As we moved into the last ten minutes of the half Hamilton changed their tactics to bring the ball inside to their larger fowards who were used as a battering ram against the GHA defence which despite this new pressure held firm.However on the thirty fifth minute an intuitive break by Scott Plumridge was ably supported by Andrew Goudie who scored to make the score after a conversion by Peter Jericevich : HAMILTON 3pts GHA 17pts.

As we moved towards the interval Hamilton once again rallied and took the game deep into GHA territory and used their power in the forwards to take the ball in and drive to the line before releasing to allow scrum half Martin Kennedy to score in the corner. After thirty eight minutes the score following a great kick by Owen McLeish was : HAMILTON 10pts GHA 17pts.

Just on half time GHA were awarded a penalty from just inside the home side’s half. Unfortunately for GHA the kick was not converted and at half time the score was : HAMILTON 10pts GHA 17pts.

The interval gave both sides the opportunity to gather breath after what had been a frenetic first half full of attacking moves and scampering cover defence. The game was finely balanced. A calm approach was required amongst the playmakers in both sides to try and establish a lasting dominance in this match. The second half began with a long kick into GHA territory gathered by Grant MacDonald who is particularly adept at gathering such balls with opponents rushing down on him.  GHA moved the ball at pace and there were several powerful breaks by messrs Seitaro Usuda and Scott Carson  well supported at the breakdown by the GHA pack. GHA continued to pierce the home defence with Thomas Sciallo making huge inroads to the home territory before being stopped. Further incursions by Chris Binnie Ben Addison and Andrew Spowart were repelled .

After five minutes of such pressure GHA lost an excellent attacking position deep in Hamilton territory when the scrum was adjudged to have driven illegally.Despite an acrobatic attempt by Chris Binnie to prevent the resulting long clearance kick going into touch Hamilton moved up to halfway. As had been the nature of this match Hamilton as we reached the eigth minute of the second half drove hard at the GHA defence and it required sterling efforts by the visitors exemplified by messrs Plumridge, Graham and MacDonald working in consort with GHA backs to repel the onslaught. Despite a brave tackle by Thomas Sciallo, Hamilton recycled the ball to score through Andy Wilson who had been the architect of much of Hamilton’s positive moves. With Owen McLeish converting the score was : HAMILTON 17pts GHA 17pts.

In the period just before Hamilton scored GHA could have scored and a fascinated crowd looked on eagerly to try and discover which side could possibly carry the day. In 13 minutes Hamilton had a scrum on halfway and it was clear from the resistance that GHA had redoubled their efforts to try and maintain parity at this setpiece. From another breakdown in play Seitaro Usuda showed considerable pace to break through Hamilton resistance only for the ball to be lost and the danger cleared by Hamilton. Again in this match play swung to the other end of the pitch and overeagerness by GHA in the loose resulted in a penalty to Hamilton which was converted to make the score as we moved into the last quarter : HAMILTON 20pts GHA 17pts.

To the credit of GHA there was a calm resolve to take the match back into their own hands and after repelling several breaks by the home side, GHA moved into a threatening position inside the Hamilton half. Winning quick ball after an impressive break by Braid, Goudie attempted to find space for the winger with a looping pass, only for Craig Inglis to intercept and run the ball over the line. Whilst the conversion was missed this meant the score as we reached the last eight minutes of the match was :HAMILTON 25pts GHA 17pts.

Some sides would crumble at such misfortune but not GHA. In a tigerish riposte the visitors aware that time was of the essence ran play after play in the home half only to be rebuffed with stout defending. Hamilton were employing a mixture of boot to ball and supported breaks to push the visitors back into their own half. Undaunted GHA gathered themselves for one last effort and whilst a superb break by Chris Binnie was stopped deep inside Hamilton territory,  Scott Plumridge went over to score for the visitors and earn the Braidholm side a bonus point. Final score: HAMILTON 25pts GHA 22pts.

This was a match played from end to end by two sides totally committed to attacking at every opportunity.

Hamilton: A. Wilson, C. Inglis, A. Ryan, M. Wallace, B. Plant, O. McLeish, M. Kennedy, Y. Young, R. McQueen, D. Carr, A. Bruce, A. Ferguson S. Alexander, R. Brown, J. White.
Subs – A. Murray, T. Malley, F. Dunnachie, D. Lopez, R. Bryan

Scorers: T – Inglis, Kennedy, Wilson C – McLeish (2) P – McLeish (2)

GHA: G. Mollison, A. Spowart, B. Addison, C. Lonergan, C. Binnie, A. Goudie, P. Jericevich, S. Carson, S. Usuda, C.Baird, R. Jenkins J. Auld S. Plumridge, W. Graham, G. MacDonald.
Subs – T. Ritchie, T. Sciallo, F. Haig, J. Edgar, M. Houston,

Scorers: T – Goudie, Mollison, Plumridge C – P. Jericevich (2) P – P. Jericevich

Referee  Mr Taku Otsuki
Assistants: Mr Damian Simpson MrStephen Ward.

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