2009/2010: Scottish Premiership Two



A. Tasker15R. McClymont
I. Gillies14C. Binnie
C. Goodall13N. Cassie (c)
M. Wallace12A. Rushforth
J. Webster11R. Jericevich
Q. Sanft10J. Noonan
G. McKenzie9A. Gillman
M. Thomson1G. Warnock
G. Wallace2C. Landsburgh
J. Brown3J. Low
S. Mitchell4M. Gurran
K. Fraser5I. Smith
L. Neilson6J. Auld
R. Van Rensberg7J. Pinder
M. Harvey8D. Kellock
W. Gray16M. Kidd
G. Mangalo17R. Jenkins
S. Porter18D. Stoddart
R. Murphy19R. O’Keefe
Sanft (3)PenNoonan (2)
Mr C. Brett (Edinburgh RS)


GHA picked up where they left off before the deep freeze by beating Kirkcaldy at Beveridge Park on Saturday. It was their sixth win in a row, a sequence that has propelled them from the danger zone up to the upper flight of Scottish Hydro Premier Two.

It has been a winning run that has been both a relief and a pleasure, not least because it has been achieved while blooding youngsters in Premiership rugby. The 18-year-old Chris Landsburgh had his first start at hooker on Saturday after an initiation on the bench in the October win at Aberdeen. Beside him at tight head was another of that age, Josh Low, and in the back row was Jamie Auld, celebrating his 18th birthday. Among the replacements were two more aged 18, David Stoddart and Matthew Kidd.

Victory by 16-9 was not as emphatic as the Braidholm win had been against the Fifers in October. This time Kirkcaldy picked up a losing bonus point, and it was much more dogged performance by GHA. They had what New Zealanders refer to mongrel in their game; not thoroughbred but effective.

GHA’s scrummage was not as secure as they would have wish. But the youngsters in the front row were not dismayed: they lived and learned, the lesson not least that scrummaging is not all truly legal.

All of the band of 18 played their part in a forceful game outside the set piece. The GHA pack were very much together in the loose, scoring the game’s only try with a typical churn of pick-and-drive rugby. Dominic Kellock’s was the name on the scoresheet, but it was an eight-man try.  Three times in the game GHA played that percussion game on the home goal-line. Only once, though, was it successful. In one individual sense, Ian Smith stood out for GHA. He dominated the line-out, and that provided the security of possession on which GHA based their win.

GHA had the early pressure, including their first siege on the home line. Nothing came of it. Then Kirkcaldy had a turn, though without real threat, and 22 minutes had gone when GHA returned to close-range attack. This time they succeeded with Kellock’s try plus a Jim Noonan conversion.

Quintan Sanft responded in 31 minutes with a penalty goal that was made all the easier because GHA failed to retired 10 metres from the original infringement. Less than a minute later Noonan missed a penalty, but with the last play of the first half he took GHA to a 10-3 lead with a drop goal. It was to be a double-whammy by Noonan. Only two minutes into the second half he kicked another penalty goal.

Over the next eight minutes Sanft and Noonan swapped penalty goals, and as the game went into the last quarter the home stand-off kicked another. GHA’s lead was down to 16-9 in a game that they probable should have had sewn up by then.

Worse was to befall them when Ruairi O’Keefe was sin-binned for offside at a ruck. But GHA survived being short-handed, and Ross McClymont even found the means to spring another of his mazy runs, beating no fewer than five tackles.

It was only in the four or so minutes of added time that Kirkcaldy opened up their own game. That late home effort was to no effective. But it was a reminder of the Herald article that the late Bill McLaren wrote probably 30 years ago about the constant puzzle why teams so often play their best rugby out of desperation instead of as an early gambit. In this case, though, one part of the answer to that conundrum was that GHA’s defence was well enough organised for Kirkcaldy to have too few opportunities until too late.

Source: Bill McMurtrie

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