GHA 17 Aberdeen Grammar 29

GHA slipped dangerously towards the relegation zone with defeat by Aberdeen Grammar at Braidholm on Saturday, but it could have been so much different if they had played throughout the match in the way that they finished off. All of the home points, including three tries, were scored in the last 15 minutes, though by then GHA were already 26 down.

It was a weird contest not only because GHA were out it for so long. Grammar had a try-bonus point in the bag by half-time, but the third quarter was scoreless. It was only when Aberdeen were reduced to 13 men with two yellow cards that GHA burst into life.

Before then, however, Michael Fox was sin-binned for being off his feet in playing the ball at a tackle, it seemed. Ironically, it was only after that that GHA threatened, with a Chris Binnie breakout and kick ahead.

Before Fox returned two Grammar players were shown yellow; Adrian Hamilton apparently for a neck-roll (after the referee had consulted both of his assistants), and Peceli Nacamavuto for a deliberate knock-on that denied GHA a try.

Once GHA were restored to a full complement, with Grammar two short, the home team found new life. Ben Addison ran in for the first try after 65 minutes, Murray Houston converting. But even then frustration remained. Alan Auld was over the right after Euan Greer’s initial thrust on the left, but that score was chalked off because of a foot in touch.

Then Paul Harkins was denied as he was tackled going over the line. But the second try quickly followed as GHA shunted Grammar’s five-metre scrum for Andy Henderson to score in the left corner, though too far out for Houston to convert.

Seven minutes were left, but GHA were still two maximum scores down.  Alex Hagart increased that Grammar lead with a penalty goal four minutes from the end, the visitors’ only score in the second half, but GHA still had time for a third try with Grant Neilson finishing off from Greer’s thrust on the left. Again Houston could not convert.

Hagart had 17 of Grammar’s points with two tries, three conversions, and that late penalty goal. The visitors’ other try-scorers were Chris Prentice and Nacamavuto.

GHA are now down in tenth place in the BT National League Division 1 table, ahead of only Grammar and Kelso. However, the Braidholm club have games in hand over those two, and next up they have trip to Musselburgh, who are comfortably in sixth place. GHA’s two other matches are both at home – against fifth-place Edinburgh Accies on 4 April, and eighth-place Howe of Fife three weeks later. Saving a place in Division 1 lies in GHA’s own hands.

GHA: Chris Binnie; James Edgar, Ben Addison, Andrew Henderson (captain), Alan Auld; Graeme Blackhall, Andrew Gillman; Lyall Archer, Gordon Campbell, Michael Fox, Adam Barnett, Jonathan Lyons, Rob McKinstray, Grant Neilson, Ross Angus – Replacements: Erik Cavan, Scott Carson, Paul Harkins, Murray Houston, Euan Greer.

Scorers: T Addison, Henderson, Neilson C – Houston

Aberdeen Grammar: Ali Addy, Sam Knudson, Alex Ratcliffe, Peceli Nacamavuto, Calum Ruxton; Alex Hagart (captain), Andrew Ovenstone; Chris Prentice, Stuart Davis, Colin Neilson, Christian Brew, Alasdair Mackie, Chris Jollands, Tony McGinness, Adrian Hamilton. Replacements: Peter Gillies, Graham Allan, Aaron Robertson, Ed Nimmons, Dom Wallen.

Scorers: T – Hagart (2), Nacamavuto, Prentice C – Hagart (3) P – Hagart

Referee: Kevin White.

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