GHA returned to Cartha after an absence of several years to renew a healthy rivalry which is an important part of maintaining a strong rugby culture in the south side of our city. The occasion was also the inaugural match for the Billy Barnes Cup which will be played annually between the clubs in memory of that great club servant whose name adorns the new trophy.

Both sides were well aware that it would be important to secure the points in what will be a very testing league campaign. Conditions were excellent for expansive rugby it being a bright day, warm with very little wind. The lush playing grass disguised a marked camber on several areas of the pitch which could easily hinder running to the unwary player. Both sides prepared thoroughly with very little animated discussion, clearly concentrating on the task ahead. After loosening exercises the sides in separate areas ran through the gambit of drills and set plays. A minutes silence took place before the match in memory of Billy Barnes. GHA took the field resplendent in their new jerseys.GHA kicked off and Cartha full back Andrew Scott gathered carefully and cleared up to the half way line. The steady handling and excellent positional defensive play of messrs Scott, Nywangeso and Docerty for the home side were to be a problem for the visitors all afternoon. The early exchanges set the pattern for much of the match with both sides attempting to run the ball at pace and to break the first line of contact. Cartha stand off Wayne Burrows was quick to kick behind the onrushing visitor attack and force them to turn to defend. Burrows continually adapted his tactics all afternoon, launching attacks by putting the ball through hands or forcing the visitors to turn by placing long diagonal kicks deep behind the GHA back line. Tremendous pressure from Dario Ewing Adam Barnett and Jamie McCarthy forced the home side to clear frantically from deep inside their half. In the fifth minute Jamie MCCarthy’s prowess at the lineout won clean line out ball which the visitors drove at the home side, Andrew Gillman and Andrew Goudie combined beautifully drawing in the home defence before launching Sean Murray on the crash ball to score near the corner. Andrew Goudie just missed with the conversion attempt. The score was : CARTHA QP 0 GHA 5.

The home side immediately took the game to the visitors who failed to deal successfully with the restart and Cartha in a promising midfield position regained control of the ball and ran it through the hands as the visitors desperately tied to regroup. An astonishing burst of speed allied to great footwork carried David Irvine through the visitors defence where upon a perfect pass to Johnny Campion took him by the last line of GHA defence and in under the posts to great acclaim from the home support. Wayne Burrows converted to make the score after seven minutes : CARTHA QP 7 GHA 5.

Both sides tried hard to establish dominance but a myriad of knock ons and misplaced passes meant that play raged from end to end with neither side able to establish a platform to control the match. A contrast in tactics was emerging. The visitors were intent on running ball from all over the pitch which tested the home defence. In contrast Cartha varied their tactics often employing Michael Nellany and Graham Williamson on the crash ball to tie in GHA players before recycling where Wayne Burrows the architect of much of Cartha’s attacking play would either run the ball or kick deep behind the visiting defence and force GHA to clear before the opposition bore down on them. As we moved to twelve minutes solid tackling by the GHA backs was blunting the incessant drives of Cartha and as GHA regained possession from a loose ball in the tackle the visiting forwards drove accurately deep into the home territory. GHA were awarded a penalty for an infringement inside the home twenty two metre area as the visitors visibly grew in confidence. Andrew Gillman took a quick penalty and was joined by the visiting forwards who drove the home side back allowing Ross Angus to take the ball over the line to loud applause from the visiting support in recognition of a very well crafted try. Andrew Goudie converted from in front of the posts to make the score after fifteen minutes: CARTHA QP 7 GHA 12.

Once again Cartha came straight back at the visitors only to see Andrew Gillman and Jamie McCarthy running in tandem deep past a surprised home defence, however Cartha ended the move with effective cover defence and a deliberate grubber kick by Johnny Campion cleared the danger for the home side and forced the visitors to turn back to clear the danger. Andrew Goudie’s attempted clearance kick from just outside the twenty two metre line was charged down and it seemed the whole of Cartha were striving to secure the ball . Cartha attempted to build on the resulting scrummage and again Wayne Burrows looked to place a deft kick behind the GHA backs but the move was well read by Cameron King who cleared the immediate danger. The game was being played at a very fast pace and there were a number of mistakes and perhaps wrong options taken by both sides. This had the effect of making the match difficult to analyse as neither side was able to build a platform of quality possession to establish dominance. The play at times was frantic with great breaks by both sides breaking down under the weight of excellent defence or spillages. Both sides gave away a number of penalties especially in midfield for scrummaging infringements and there were superb breaks by messrs Burrows,Campbell and McInnes for the home side matched by equally exciting breaks by messrs Scott Addison, Findlay for the visitors . All of these breaks made ground but were snuffed out by effective defensive tackling. As the game approached the half hour mark the pace of the match had not slackened and play went from one half to the other with both sides trying to find a way to set up a platform of control . Several minutes of sustained pressure resulted in GHA threatening the home line with excellent drives by the visiting forwards being met by stiff home resistance. GHA were awarded a penalty for a line out offence and Andrew Goudie kicked to the corner. From the resulting catch and drive Cameron King crashed over in the corner area following several failed attempts by his forwards to penetrate the home line. Andrew Goudie just missed with a difficult conversion and the score after thirty minutes was : CARTHA QP 7 GHA 17.

The irony was that just before this spell of GHA pressure, Cartha had been close to scoring themselves with only calm defence clearing the danger for GHA. Despite this lead the nature of this match meant that GHA needed to concentrate on dealing with the restart from the home side. Cartha regained the ball from the breakdown at the restart and despite brave defensive tackling, Ewan Campbell, cleverly kicked the ball through a gap in the visiting defence and raced through from well outside the twenty two metre area to score under the posts. Wayne Burrows converted to make the score after thirty three minutes: CARTHA QP 14 GHA 17. As the match moved towards the interval there was no let up in the pace of the match. Again and again Cartha gained territory be diagonal kicks cleverly aimed to gain them ground and the visiting side were constantly harried back to clear the danger. The match continued to flow one way then the other in the hot conditions. GHA once again strove to establish some control of this match by attacking through the backs with great support from the forwards. The visitors knew it was critical to try and retain the ball to prevent Cartha breaking out again similarly the home side desperately wanted quality ball to drive the visitors back and chase the ball deep into the GHA half. This resulted in both sets of forwards working very hard to win clean ball. Just on half time Cartha make a mighty effort to drive the visitors back to their own half. Clever inter passing by the home side and forward momentum took the home side to the try line where herculean efforts in defence by the visitors just hold out Cartha as the half time whistle blows. HALF TIME: CARTHA QP 14 GHA 17

Half time gave everyone the opportunity to consider the hectic nature of the opening forty minutes. There had been some excellent moments of great tackling, line out play, accurate passing but these had been interspersed with both sides for long periods failing to establish control of the match and indeed coughing up possession at the most critical time. It seemed the side that managed to put points on the board and critically could then ensure there were no slip ups would carry the day.

Cartha began the second half intent on pushing deep into the visitors half and indeed a long kick off resulted in an immediate line out in the GHA twenty two. Ben Addison and Andrew Goudie put in some huge tackles to negate the advances of the home side who suddenly had momentum. GHA conceded a scrum inside their twenty two and in the resulting drive forward Juan Phyfer emerged with the ball over the line to score under the posts. Wayne Burrows converted so that within three minutes of the restart the score was: CARTHA QP 21 GHA 17.

It perhaps bodes well for the rest of the season that GHA did not panic at this huge set back so early in the half. Under the leadership of Andrew Goudie the visitors returned to the fray. GHA were clearly working to establish their own game plan, forwards driving forward before releasing the backline to engage the home defence before recycling and moving forward. This plan was met by stubborn and effective defence by the home side with the result that the game tended to be played in between the ten metre areas with occasional breakouts by both sides which came to nought. In the ninth minute of the half one such break out by Cartha ended with a penalty to the visitors inside their half for not releasing the ball in the tackle which Andrew Goudie cleared up to half way. GHA built on this and a combination of catch and drive saw the GHA side move into the home twenty two metre area. Cartha were penalised for a lineout offence and as a quick penalty was taken,catching Cartha at sixes and sevens…Andrew Goudie fired a long pass to Sean Murray to score in the corner. Again Andrew Goudie was unlucky with the conversion and after fifteen minutes of the second half the score was : CARTHA QP 21 GHA 22.

As had been the pattern throughout the match Cartha placed a long restart kick in the GHA half as the ball went loose GHA were penalised for not releasing the ball on the ground and Wayne Burrows wasted no time in securing the three points to make the score: CARTHA QP 24 GHA 22.

Once again a score by the visitors had almost immediately been cancelled out by a reply from the home side. Both sides threw the ball around in a desperate attempt to find a way through excellent defences and this led to some long passes by both sides with Ben Addison just failing to hold on to an intercepted long pass by the home backs.The two packs fought tenaciously for quality possession but neither pack could establish dominance long enough to gain control of this intriguing match. A highlight of the march was the excellent tackling by both sides especially messrs Goudie,Ewing, King and Murray and Addison for the visitors.As we reached twenty minutes in the half David Corbenici was yellow carded for an infringement in the loose just on half way. This should have given the home side an advantage but it is to the credit of the visitors that they redoubled their already considerable efforts to cover the shortfall in players. From the resulting penalty Wayne Burrows converted to make the score after nearly twenty four minutes of the half: CARTHA QP 27 GHA 22.

In keeping with the way the scoring had gone in this match, GHA were almost immediately back deep in the Cartha half with only desperate home defence containing the GHA side. From a penalty award near the try line awarded to GHA Andrew Goudie slipped the ball to a three man wrecking crew who smashed through the startled home defence to score with Ross Angus adjudged to have got the touch down Andrew Goudie converted to make the score on the half hour mark: CARTHA QP 27 GHA 29.

The narrowness of the lead was not lost on either set of supporters who willed their respective sides for one final effort. Injuries disrupted the closing period and perhaps diffused some of the nerves on both sides. Once again at the restart Cartha drove deep into GHA territory and in an astonishing escape with Cartha very near to the GHA try line, ferocious forward work sprung the ball on the visitors side whereupon Sean Murray hit a very long kick to chase and immediately turn the match to the other end of the pitch. The ball was only just cleared by the scampering Cartha full back but GHA had gone from their own goal line to deep inside the Cartha half. Perhaps this one episode summed up the nature of the whole match…one side on the attack only to have to race back to defend their own line. As we approached the final moments GHA seemed to realise the importance of keeping the ball deep in the Cartha half. Scott Carson took the ball into contact and was awarded a penalty for his efforts. The resulting kick took GHA up to the Cartha line . After several attempts to break through by forwards and backs alike, Jack Preston found space to get in to the right of the posts to score. The score as Andrew Goudie failed to convert was : CARTHA QP 27 GHA34.

Such a late score would destroy lesser sides but Cartha threw everything at GHA as we moved in to additional time. Every one of the GHA side tackled superbly often having to take two men at once as the pressure mounted. Cartha showed superb ball control and continually recycled and tried to find a way through what was an astonishing defence by the visitors. The final whistle blew with GHA just emerging victorious after a very difficult derby match where Cartha played some excellent attacking rugby only to be rebutted by a superb defensive display with an effective attacking edge by the visitors. FINAL SCORE: CARTHA QP 27 GHA 34






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