Twos v West  23 November 2018

Despite the rival attraction of the Warriors and Cardiff Blues at Scotstoun, a decent number assembled in the stand at Old Anniesland to take in the long awaited encounter between the second fifteens of the old rivals GHK and West of Scotland. The spectators were rewarded with a fine open game with GHK outscoring the men from Milngavie by six tries to two.

On the big pitch, attacking the New Anniesland end, GHK started very brightly and used the width of the field to stretch the stuffy West defence. Ewan Stewart was serving up tidy lineout ball and assured three-quarter handling gained ground. Given the success of their expansive efforts, it was slightly out of character when the first score of the night came from a well drilled lineout take and a rumble that took it over the West line. The scorer knows who he is. Sorry, I don’t. It was an appropriate reward for a positive start.

GHK kept up the tempo and kept the heavier West pack on the move. Robin Coates kicked well and the back three of Philbey, Lopez and Lomenie were clearly in the mood. When the second try came after twenty minutes, again it was after a prolonged period of possession in in the West half and when Fin Callaghan cut a smart line he was never going to be stopped.

GHK continued to dominate and the West defence was given not a moment’s peace. When further gaps were created, winger Tristan Philbey was on hand to add the finishing touches with tries three and four in quick-ish succession. Half an hour gone and the four try bonus point already sorted.

West called for reinforcements with some even more substantial forwards joining the fray from their bench. The GHK pack, despite being at a height and weight disadvantage, provided plenty front foot ball with Jake Thomas being prominent and Cian Shielts being an ever present at the breakdown. The West changes did appear to have the desired effect and the GHK momentum was a little diluted in the closing stages of the half in which there was no further scoring.  Half time GHK 24  West 0

One would imagine that the GHK half time chat would be along the lines of ‘more of the same/don’t give them a quick score’ etc. Well, when Ben Farmer was on hand to support Matt Chan’s forty metre burst and cross for try number five with only a few minutes of the second half gone, it did look like the troops had been paying attention and it was more or less job done.

Back came West and by this point their more direct, less expansive approach was paying dividends. The forward reinforcements introduced before the break began to make an impression. A series of assaults deep in the GHK twenty two saw the home side front up with some impressive defensive efforts of their own. However, the visitors’ persistence and tenacity was eventually rewarded with a close quarter drive over.

Having achieved success via this means, West tried to repeat the dose but the GHK rear guard gave nothing away cheaply. There were a few close calls. Who knows what might have happened if the visitors had been able to rack up another couple of tries? The fact that that did not happen was due to the concentration and willingness of the entire GHK squad  to  make those tackles and get involved in the gritty stuff.

Cammy Grant had another impressive hour at scrum half. When he was replaced by Callum Carlin at nine, the new man made an almost immediate impression completing GHK’s half dozen after another flowing move. His snappy service ensured that the willing GHK backs continued to receive ball that they could work with.

As the clock ran down, West claimed their own second try which, like number one, was created via some direct running and driving support. A second half try share of two apiece was probably about right.

Final score  GHK 36  West 14

A very decent game of rugby and an outcome that sees the Twos keep up the pressure on leaders Hillhead Jordanhill. There is still a lot of rugby to be played in the league and Coach Carlin’s squad can give anyone a game when they are in the mood as they were on Friday. Many excellent performances including a few from the replacements bench from whence Ben Farmer, Callum Bowie and Matt Chan joined the fray. As the physicality level increased, the GHK defence stood up with skipper Campbell and Fin Callaghan to the fore. GHK man of the match – Jake Thomas. A great shift in defence and attack. Well done one and all.

Thanks to Wilfried Eudeline for the photos.

    

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