GHA 19 Aberdeen Grammar 21

Saturday provided a welcome opportunity to watch the home side following the cancellation of last week’s match due to weather conditions. The Hutcheson’s Aloysian dinner provided a busy backdrop to the important business of attempting to garner league points. Visitors Aberdeen Grammar have moved up the table recently with improved performances and would provide a stern test for the home side. A minutes silence was observed for former coach Ian Stead and club member Ann Thomson who both sadly passed away recently.

Both sides prepared carefully with a range of sets and whole team drills on a heavy pitch. A light cold wind blew across the pitch in what was essentially a clear day. The visitors kicked off into GHA territory and immediately gained possession of the ball Nathaniel Coe and Robin Cressford took the ball into contact for the North East side on the GHA twenty two metre area. The visitors were awarded the first of what was to be a large number of penalties in the match and Sam Knudson fired the ball into touch on the GHA five metre area. From quick lineout ball Aberdeen passed the ball in tight cohesion until . Murray MItchell broke through the home defence to score . The try was converted and after only three minutes the score was: GHA 0 ABERDEEN 7. Such an early set back was a test of the resolve of the home side. GHA took the game to Aberdeen with a long restart kick charge down by the excellent Jamie McCarthy loudly cheered by the home support which clearly lifted the spirits of the home players. From the resulting scrum play, GHA won the ball and their eager backs orchestrated by Cameron KIng moved the ball with precision to allow Jordan Craig to outpace the covering tackler and score. From a difficult angle George Baird converted to bring the game back to all square. The score after six minutes was GHA 7 ABERDEEN 7. Both sides were settling into an attacking style of play which was to make for an exciting and close encounter. From possession messrs Clark and Fox drove into the middle of the visitors defence on the ten metre area. The home side were using a combination of forward thrusts and back support to probe for weaknesses in the Aberdeen defensive line. A penalty was awarded to GHA and George Baird steered his kick into touch on the Aberdeen twenty two metre line. Adam Kerr won the lineout ball which was fed out to the backs who moved with menace as their opponents sought to block the advance. Sleight of hand and excellent running allowed the home side to penetrate right through the Aberdeen side and with assistance from the forwards take the ball to the line where Eric Caven got the ball grounded to score. Another difficult conversion narrowly failed and the score after ten minutes was: GHA 12 ABERDEEN 7. Following the restart a loose attempted clearance by the home side gave possession back to the visitors who launched the ball into the GHA twenty two. From the lineout out tail, Aberdeen’s Ben Inglis drove at the home defence and made yardage into the GHA five metre area. The visitors were awarded a penalty which they kicked to the corner. A huge forward effort from the resulting line out by the Aberdeen side was met by an equally determined effort from the home forwards as both sets of supporters roared encouragement . The ball went loose and it seemed half of Braidholm fell on the ball. However the home side were adjudged to have knocked the ball forward in their attempt to gain possession. From the resulting twenty two metre scrum, Aberdeen put in a huge drive which rocked the GHA pack.Aberdeen were awarded a penalty and the ball was swiftly put into touch towards the GHA line. Aberdeen were mounting attacks through their forwards, making yardage and then releasing the ball to their powerful backs who would invite the tackle before off loading to the support player. These tactics demanded total concentration and effective tackling to prevent the visitors scoring. Aberdeen decided to catch and drive from the lineout and were met by a determined GHA wall of resistance as they sought a way through. Another penalty was awarded to Aberdeen in front of the posts. Clearly the visitors felt that they had the upper hand in the set piece contests and elected for a scrum inside the GHA five metre area. The home side answered the visitors with a stubborn resistance as Aberdeen strained to find momentum and move forward. Another penalty was awarded to the visitors who changed tack and with a quick heel passed the ball out to Douglas Russell who went over to score to loud appreciation from the visiting support., An excellent conversion from a difficult angle by Tom Aplin made the score after twenty minutes: GHA 12 ABERDEEN 14. Mike Ryan was yellow carded for his part in the penalty infringement. It was an exciting match with both sides having to work very hard to gain an effective advantage. Well matches sides were going through their playbook to try and find some leverage to gain the upper hand. As we moved towards the twenty fifth minute of the half play tended to swing between the two ten metre areas as solid tackling broke down moves and ploys and tended to create a crab like effect as play moved across rather than up or down the pitch. GHA were awarded a penalty which George Baird who was causing his opposite number a great deal of worry by his harrying and close supervision at the set piece and swift passing kicked to touch deep inside the Aberdeen half. A superb collective drive by the home pack thundered through the shocked visiting defence and in a tight unit went over the line to score with the very effective Adam Barnett getting the ball down. George Baird converted and after twenty eight minutes the score was: GHA 19 ABERDEEN 14. The cohesion between home forwards and backs was causing Aberdeen problems and as we approached the interval GHA began to enjoy a period of domination in the match. The last five minutes of the half saw a number of excellent moves by the home side making yardage deep into the Aberdeen half who defended desperately to prevent a further score against them. A little more precision in the final pass and positional awareness would have allowed the home side to crown some lovely work with a score. A penalty to GHA inside the visitors twenty two metre area resulted in the touch kick taking play up to the Aberdeen five metre area. The home side won the ball but gave away a penalty with the line in sight to allow the Aberdeen side to clear the danger and allow the referee to blow for half time. Although pleased with the state of play, home supporters were concerned that failure to convert chances after such good lead up work might prove costly in the second half.

The second half began with Aberdeen knocking on from the kick off which gave the home side an immediate advantage. However despite attempts by Jordan Craig to force a way though, Aberdeen stopped the effort and attempted to move into the GHA half. There followed several minutes of both sides attacking and making some progress only for moves to break down by the ball going loose or being knocked on. Despite this untidy period the excitement for the supporters was palpable, especially with the score so close. Certainly a tension began to creep into the match as both sides realised the importance to league positions that victory would affect. The home side began to put some tremendous pressure on the visitors, with drives by messrs Cavan, Fox Barnett and McCarthy asking questions of the Aberdeen defence. After spirited forward play by GHA a superb break saw Eric Cavan held up on the line. As we moved into the eleventh minute of the half Adam Barnett was stopped on the line and he was adjudged to have made a double movement in his attempt to ground the ball. The resulting penalty eased the immediate pressure on the visitors who had defended bravely against the incessant GHA attacks. As we reached the sixteenth minute of the half, Aberdeen found themselves inside the GHA half and their presence was enhanced by a penalty award. The resulting kick took the game inside the GHA twenty two metre area. A well executed catch and drive by the visitors from the lineout saw a desperate attempt to stop Aberdeen failing as Mathias Schosser got the ball down to score. An excellent conversion from far out made the score after sixteen minutes: GHA 19 ABERDEEN 21. For several minutes Aberdeen attempted to take advantage of the fact that they had the lead and only stout defensive tackling allowed the home side to steady themselves and attempt to recover from the loss of the lead. The remainder of the match saw the home side try and puncture the Aberdeen line and got to within metres of the Aberdeen line on several occasions. Several penalties inside the Aberdeen half were awarded to GHA and Patrick Ritchie was yellow carded but the home side decided to stick to their efforts to drive into the opposition release quick ball and use the backs with forward support to try and find a way through the visitors defence. Despite the situation, Aberdeen stuck to the task of tackling and blocking all the advances by the home side. There were some good passages of play by the home side as they sought to find a way through the red rearguard. Finally to the great relief of the visitors and the crushing disappointment of the home side, the match ended. Despite almost constant attacks in the second half by the home side they just could not quite find a way through the Aberdeen defence . The league situation is very tight and GHA will know only too well the consequences of not executing scoring opportunities. On a brighter note this was an exciting match where every player especially in the home jersey gave their all and hopefully such effort and skill will be rewarded in the remaining matches. Final score: GHA 19 ABERDEEN 21






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