Falkirk RFC v GHK 02 March 2019

Falkirk had the significant advantage of a howling gale and occasional bursts of driving rain as they kicked off against GHK in another vital match for the OA side as they looked to cling on to their position in National Two. Despite the challenges posed by the weather, never mind the opposition, GHK started pretty well. They dominated early possession and on another day a couple of penalty awards would have led to shots at goal but the powerful wind meant that such thoughts probably never crossed the mind of the decision makers.

For some reason Falkirk seemed rather reluctant to put boot to ball and tried to play their way out with ball in hand. The GHK line speed and general pressure kept the home side well out of harm’s way. Whilst not going so far as to say that they were enjoying the first period, there were a few voices in the travelling support suggesting that things were going along really quite well. Such was the general air of comfort amongst the GHK group that one former Scottish international centre found time to extol the warmth giving virtues and general comfort of his newly acquired pure new wool, Arctic expedition socks. Times have indeed changed.

Anyway, the GHK rhythm was disrupted when prop Kieron Boles had to leave the field with an injury. An able replacement in the form of Paul Polson was summoned. This intervention was probably a good half hour in advance of Paul’s planned arrival in to proceedings. It would be a longer than anticipated shift for Mr P.

At last Falkirk got in to the GHK half. The all action Cameron Crozier was tackling everything that moved. He was rather harshly judged to have committed a dangerous tackle. The home forward did look to have almost jumped in to the breakdown. A yellow card was shown and the penalty kicked from about thirty-five metres.  It was against the run of play and possession.

The change to the front row looked to have unsettled GHK albeit temporarily. Falkirk sensed an advantage and scrums were chosen rather than shots at goal. After a few rumbles and a succession of drives, the home pack forced their way over for the first try of the day. The conversion made it a ten point advantage. Fortunately, GHK held out to the break without any more action on the score board. However, in the closing minutes of the half GHK suffered another blow as Hugh Parker left the field with an injury and played no further part in the day’s proceedings. Half time 10-0 Falkirk.

Whilst probably a wee bit disappointed at the scores conceded, in truth it did kind of give the feeling that the wind gave at least a ten point advantage. Could GHK capitalise on the gale at their backs in the second half? The answer to that seemed to be a resounding ‘yes’ as before a number of the supporters returned from their half time visit to the warmth of the club house, GHK had levelled the scores courtesy of a mighty Kyle Henderson penalty and a try that mirrored the Falkirk score, i.e. a forward drive. The player who did the touching down was that man Polson.

GHK were in the ascendancy but the cutting edge was missing. The Falkirk defence, especially around the fringes, meant that little ground was to be gained close to the tackle/breakdown. Kyle Henderson missed with a penalty from similar range to that which opened the scoring for GHK. However, with fifteen minutes to go GHK edged in front courtesy of another well struck penalty from number ten Henderson.

The influence of the weather and wind diminished as the game entered the closing stages. A Falkirk revival began. They reasserted themselves in the scrum and began to put a squeeze on GHK in the visitors’ twenty two. GHK looked to have resisted the assaults and scrum pressure. As Falkirk tried to move scrum ball, it looked as though it had been knocked on in their midfield. In close proximity to this, a Falkirk player was receiving treatment from the physio. The referee called a halt to allow the player to receive further attention.  

The game was restarted with a scrum to Falkirk. Maybe the referee missed the knock on. Anyway, as the scrum slewed to the left, the ball squirted out and the home blind side flanker snapped this up and crashed over for a try that gave the home side an unexpected lead. 15-13 to Falkirk with about six minutes to go.

The GHK restart was not a thing of beauty. Possession was instantly coughed up to the home side. GHK kept at it and Falkirk were frequently falling foul of the referee’s whistle. A penalty was kicked for position but the line out did not produce the ball required. Kyle Henderson had one last shot at goal but it slipped wide from a bit of an angle on the left. Falkirk ran down the clock efficiently and held on for the win.

Falkirk 15 GHK 13

The disruption with the injuries to Kieron Boles, which led to the premature arrival of Paul Polson, and the withdrawal of Hugh Parker whose lineout work and tidying up at the base of the scrum had a significant impact on how GHK were able to manage the challenges posed by a competent Falkirk side and the weather. For once it did look as though GHK had indeed managed the conditions but it slipped away from the OA men in the final outcome. GHK player of the day – Cameron Crozier. Another superb effort.

So GHK go home with the one bonus point instead of the four that they were looking for. In the event, results elsewhere meant that no real damage was done but the opportunity to gain a bit of an advantage was passed up. However, all the other sides who find themselves in this basement battle will feel that it is still very much game on. Squeaky bum time just got ratcheted up a few octaves for the GHK group.

Next up, a home game against fellow battlers Whitecraigs. A home fixture under the OA lights on Friday 15 March. A pre-match curry is on offer. The final home league fixture at OA for this season. Those of a nervous disposition may wish to bring their own sofa to hide behind. A nervous eighty minutes is anticipated. Every little helps as a GHK supporter these days.

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