Aberdeenshire v GHK

Sat 8th April 2017

A sunny Woodside with enough breeze to make a difference provided ideal conditions for what promised to be a cracking match. Aberdeenshire came in to the game as the highest points scorers in the league and as the GHK faithful know, we are not too shabby in that department either.

Good to see Aberdeenshire kit provider and former Glasgow High/GHK scintillating centre Dave Brown (I think that’s what you said Dave) and Sheila along with GHK players/tourists Colin Neilson and Calum Ruxton (both currently running out at Aberdeen Grammar), on the touchline. Talking of touchline, past President Glenn Woolard was running the line having completed his usual warm up of generous Aberdeenshire pre match hospitality. Pred McCulloch took up the Twitter feed.

The clock would also be wound back to the future for GHK, with one Ruaidhri “Winnie” Wintersgill, (yes son of GHK’s very own export to Aussie), on the bench and sure to get a run out.

The excitement was building in expectation of the GHK team giving coach  David “Mini” Mitchell a big performance send off for his final game in charge.

GHK started well with Cammy Hughes breaching the home defence with a great angled run within 2 mins before being pulled down by scramble defence 5 metres out. GHK recycled and the ball was moved nicely to Rory Taylor who was bundled into touch. GHK won the opposition throw in the  lineout, which was a recurring feature at timely moments, and Nick Hurn ran strongly but a penalty at the ensuing ruck gave Aberdeenshire time to catch their breath and clear to touch. All good stuff but it was then the hosts turn to apply some pressure.

A missed penalty to touch with the ball holding in the breeze was countered by Aberdeenshire and only some great defence stopped what looked like a certain score in the corner. Scrum five to Aberdeenshire, a breenge in the centre, more very solid “D” and then a penalty against GHK. Aberdeenshire chose to scrum but the GHK pack held firm and with more great defence the ball was finally held up in the maul – scrum to GHK. 15 mins on the clock and the hosts had had most of the controlled possession yet GHK looked dangerous even on reduced rations. From a scrum around the GHK 22, Mike Martin put up a high ball which he followed up and won, broke left and fed Andy Fleming  motoring in support who ran in from his own half to score in the corner. No conversion into the breeze. 0-5 to GHK.

More strong running from the Aberdeenshire centre Nat Coe and close driving support continued to test the GHK defence and it was no more than Aberdeenshire deserved when the aforementioned centre found the space to get in near the posts, duly converted by no 10 Paul Paxton, to take the lead 7 -5 after 25 mins. A couple of knock-ons and penalties cancelled out good work from GHK and gave Aberdeenshire field position. A strong counter ruck provided good ball to Aberdeenshire and the ball was moved quickly left. GHK defence was for once a bit flat footed and hooker Andrew Cook on an excellent running line and showing good pace got between two GHK tacklers and ran in from the 22 for a well worked score. Paul Paxton converted and Aberdeenshire looked good for their 14-5 lead after 30 mins.

GHK response was immediate. A  penalty was kicked to the corner and the resultant text book catch and drive was rounded off by Mike Borthwick. The score was again out wide and no conversion. 14-10 after 34 mins. Quickly followed up in 38 mins by a score by Danny Campbell who took an inside pass and added a typical Danny break, from a well placed cross kick from Mike Martin. 14 -15 to GHK.

A missed kick off receipt, a penalty to Aberdeenshire and GHK were back on the defensive. More good “D” from GHK.  A quickly taken penalty by GHK from around the GHK 22 was put through the hands and Rory Taylor was unlucky with a deft chip over the cover that bounced into touch.  Up at the other end a couple of cover tackles and a dropped pass into touch from Aberdeenshire brought the half time whistle.

Coach “Mini” made some changes.  with all four subs taking to the field with debuts for hooker Fergus Halston and Ruaidhri Wintersgill on for Alex McGuire and Blair Colvin respectively, Rory Cook coming on for Rory Taylor and Craig McPhee for Rob Dickson. The game continued where it had left off with both teams attacking at every opportunity. A lovely break with good hands and a pop pass sent Danny Campbell away. Andy Fleming was in close support and when Danny was pulled down on the line Andy was on hand to pick up and go over. Converted by Mike Martin 14-22 on 50 mins. Hugh Parker caught the kick off and the ball was quickly transferred to Cammy Hughes who stormed through the defence working hard to get to the line for a great score. Converted by Mike Martin. 14-29 to GHK after 52 mins.

Just when the GHK support were thinking of relaxing and applying some sun tan lotion, Hugh P received a “yellow” from referee Tom French.  Aberdeenshire immediately took advantage and on 55 mins centre Nat Coe broke through to score at the posts. Paul Paxton popped over the conversion. 21-29. Not finished there Aberdeenshire produced another on 61 mins when Brad Fraser rounded off some good driving play with another score at the posts. Paul Paxton again converted and suddenly the score was back to a single point at 28-29 to GHK.

Coach “Mini” rang some further changes with Rory Cook slotting into scrum half for Mike Aird and Rory Taylor back on the wing, with the pack also reshuffled. GHK were awarded a penalty and elected to kick to the corner. A subsequent free kick to GHK was tapped and after a couple of digs, the ball broke to Mike Martin who used all his best steps from a night at Sanctuary or Viper to dance his way past several defenders for a great individual score at the posts, which he duly converted. 63 mins and GHK restore a bit of a cushion at 28-36. The tension was clearly all getting a bit too much for coach Mitchell as he set off for the clubhouse in a strange sort of clenched running style. He soon returned but his “relief” was short lived – Aberdeenshire hadn’t read the script and another good break and a 40m run by centre Nat Coe was only stopped by a cover tackle by Rory Cook but fellow centre Nathan Clough was on hand to latch on to the recycled ball for an unconverted score to bring it back to 33-36 with 5 mins to go. Things looked ominous as Andy Fleming had taken a knock and was off. Mike Aird came back on to scrum half and Rory Cook to full back but on 78 mins after several good loose plays that man Campbell picked up and with a trade mark hand off and break of tackle ran clear to score with Mike Martin converting lifting the score to 33 -43.

Just when you think game over – not a bit of it – Aberdeenshire took it to GHK once more and were awarded a penalty which was kicked to the corner. Hugh P read the throw and took the ball two handed – superb take. Having confirmed with the ref Mike Aird completed the job and cleared to touch. Game definitely over !

The score line suggests both defences were porous. This was not the case. Both sides produced some great “D”.  Whilst there was the odd missed tackle, this was more to do with the attractive fast tempo style both teams play. A great advert for the game of rugby. Lots of very good performances and candidates for man of the match. Aberdeenshire shared the view that this week’s GHK Man of the Match goes to Mike Martin.

Our thanks to Aberdeenshire for their hospitality. We look forward to our games next season.

The team did indeed give coach “Mini” a big performance send off!  Many thanks Mini for all your hard work and commitment in coaching the lads to enjoy their rugby. Best wishes from all at GHK and don’t be a stranger!

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