GHA – 16 , West of Scotland – 13
West Division 1
On probably the narrowest pitch ever seen by the author of this report, GHA continued their impressive run of victories with a hard fought triumph over West of Scotland at Boclair Academy’s ground.
The tight pitch made it exceptionally difficult for any running rugby as there was no room for either team’s backs to run round the opposition as there always seemed to be more players to beat in order to reach the try line. Nevertheless, this was an entertaining match with both sides keen to gain the upper hand in the early exchanges. West had the advantage of the wind in the first half but were guilty of going over the top at rucks and killing the ball on the ground giving GHA a number of opportunities to score early points. The first time we were awarded a penalty captain, David Scott, chose to kick for touch at the corner rather than take the 3 points for the penalty and though the coaches applauded his choice the resulting lineout was lost and the chance was gone. Having learned his lesson, David chose to kick for goal when given a second chance and promptly put GHA 3 points up. 10 minutes later a further penalty resulted in another 3 points for GHA. West started to use the elements to their advantage and pinned us back in our own 22 with smart kicks over the backs to gain good field position. It was no surprise when they got a penalty in front of the posts and narrowed the gap to just 3 points.
5 minutes before half time a clever kick up the line from Ben Thomson, followed by a lucky bounce gave Gareth Hall the try our play deserved and with David putting the conversion between the posts we stormed 13-3 ahead and were looking good to stretch it even further, when slack play at the back gave away not only another penalty in front of the posts but a try as well. The West kicker duly converted on the stroke of half time to put the scores level at 13-13.
With the wind advantage in our favour in the second half, the backs were encouraged to kick for position and we did that to great effect but the combination of poor finishing and stout defending from West kept the scores level . There was a great cheer from the supporters and players when Calum Hunter appeared to score a try after a quick tap penalty close to the West line but the referee correctly spotted that Calum had knocked on as he attempted to ground the ball for the try and so the scores remained level.
For various reasons we only had 3 replacements on the bench, 2 of them being new to rugby this year, Alan Campbell and Ryan McMenemy and the other being Adam Barnett who was recovering from injury so the coaches did not have a lot to choose from to try and change things round and score the elusive points that would take us back to 2nd position in the league. However, GHA were not to be thwarted and a kick from the West Full Back put all those West players in front of him offside and the ref had no option but to award GHA a penalty in kicking distance. With barely minutes of the match remaining David did the needful and kicked us in front. We managed to survive a few scary moments before the final whistle sounded and all the boys who played should feel delighted with their performance in a tough physical game.
Backs: Ben Thomson, Gareth Hall, Johnnie Haughney, Josh Rutnagur, James Hendry, David Scott and Fraser Hamilton
Forwards: Mark Stringer, Kelso Brown, Matt Conner, Calum Hunter, Ross Carty, Paul Renucci, Johnny Macintyre and Nick McCaw/ Replacements: Alan Campbell, Ryan McMenemy and Adam Barnett