Friday Night Lights returned to Old Anniesland and, again, proved popular with a good sized crowd many of whom had enjoyed another fine pre-match curry. There was no doubting the importance of this match to both teams as they lay in 9th (Whitecraigs) and 10th (GHK) places just above the bottom two spots. It was the classic 8 (or should that be 10?) pointer.
The weather was kind, with the pitch in great condition considering the amount of rain that has fallen recently as Whitecraigs kicked off into what was no more than a mild breeze rather than storm Gareth.
GHK started brightly, as they had in several games this season, the crucial difference this time being that the early pressure was turned into points with first Robin Coates and then Angus Lindsay going over for nerve-settling scores with the boot of Kyle Henderson crucial – first from the tee for a fine conversion of the first try and then from hand to set up the line out from which the second was gained. GHK continued to dominate and with Whitecraigs temporarily reduced to fourteen men Robin Coates completed his brace to see GHK into a seventeen point lead. Whitecraigs, who, like the home side, were short of several first team regulars, were forced into changes as both sides showed real commitment , especially in the forward exchanges. The visitors had their best spell of the match prior to half time when they were camped on the GHK line for a number of phases. The home side’s defence was resolute, however, and only a penalty was conceded bringing the end to a satisfactory first half for the home side. 17-3.
A Whitecraigs handling error at the start of the second half was capitalised on by Fraser Christie who was quick to take advantage, touching down at the base of the post to bring up the all important bonus point for GHK. 24-3.
In a rare foray into GHK territory Whitecraigs opted to kick for goal from long range but it drifted wide and one felt that it was unlikely that the visitors could find a way back into the game. So it proved as, despite a yellow card for home scrum half Ben Frame, Whitecraigs were unable to take advantage and it was GHK who finished the game the stronger with first Angus Lindsay completing his double and then Lewis Brock crashing over following some great handling in the lead up with Blair Forsyth and Danny Campbell both prominent.
Final score GHK 34 Whitecraigs 3
A much needed win for GHK who showed more of the good rugby we know they’re capable of than in many games this season. Confidence built as the game went on and more passes and offloads went to hand than not. It really was a 15 or rather 19 man effort. In the forwards the whole front row and replacements played their part with the starting trio of Andy McCulloch, Angus Lindsay and Kieran Boles all prominent in the tight and around the park. Jez Hanks, as always put in the hard yards in attack and some big hits when required in defence. Beside him Lewis Brock took some great line out ball and enjoyed a few bullocking runs. The returning Fraser Christie brought a combative presence to the back row, with captain Nick Hurn, Craig Rintoul and his replacement Walter Gilbert all following his lead.
Behind the scrum, Ben Frame varied his game well, keeping the opposition defence on their toes with some quick breaks and looking to keep play at a quick tempo; Kyle Henderson showed why he acquired the soubriquet ‘The Wand’ as his left foot launched the ball into the corners; both centres, Danny Campbell and Gavin McKirdy, made telling breaks and kept on top of their opponents; and Robin Cotes was deserving of his two try haul.
The final two players, winger Erwann Le Balc’h and full back Blair Forsyth are both worthy of special mention, epitomising the spirit and attitude that was required. In this observer’s view the French winger’s demonstration of the benefits of freedom of movement make him an appropriate choice as this week’s Man of the Match!
Two away games left: next week at Biggar and then finishing the season across the fence at Glasgow Accies. More of the same please!