GHK v Howe of Fife

Back to Balgray for the GHK nomads. Whilst there has recently been some encouraging news regarding remedial work on the main pitch at Old Anniesland, it is likely to be a good while yet until the ones are able to run out in front of the Jimmy Ireland stand. In the meantime we are very grateful to groundsman Chas MacFarlane and indeed all at Kelvinside for their support during this challenging period.

Howe of Fife were relegated from BT National 1 at the end of last season. Results over the last few weeks would tend to suggest that they could be running in to some decent form and given that they have a reputation for playing an open, expansive running game, Saturday’s encounter was anticipated to be lively.

Howe got the game underway and GHK were immediately in to attacking mode playing towards the Thow Mansions end of the ground. A Robin Coates kick to the corner put the hosts in a great position. The men from Fife responded well to the early challenges but the hosts kept up the pressure from a five metre scrum and again some aggressive defence kept the score line blank.

The breakthrough came in eleven minutes. Danny Campbell fielded a clearing kick and made multiple yards in return. Jez Hanks, looking not at all jet lagged, was in support and it was the second row who gave the scoring pass to Rory Taylor who still had a bit to do but was never going to be stopped as he slid over in the corner.

Howe stemmed the tide momentarily getting in to a decent position in in the GHK twenty two but the home defence was as focussed as their attacking intentions. The brief uprising was quickly quelled and the hosts resumed another series of raids.

GHK won early dominance in the scrum and thus was a source of good possession as well as a less than tidy platform for the Fifers. Several attacking waves stretched the Howe defence. A yellow card was conceded and GHK capitalised. From a midfield scrum Hugo Anderson sniped left and drew the cover leaving just enough room for Marc Taylor to cross in the same corner as his namesake.

GHK retained great focus and kept up intensity. At restarts there was much chat amongst the home side of a ‘let’s keep this sensible and do the basics’ nature. And on this occasion they were listening. The visitors had not had the chance to show too much in attack but, when number eight Andrew Steven looked to have decided to do it all on his own battering through a handful of tackles, the GHK defenders rallied just in time to prevent any serious damage.

The home threat was persistent. A scrum in midfield just outside the Howe twenty two provided good clean ball. As it was shipped right, Blair Forsyth ran a great line between the centres and was over untouched. Three tries were due reward for thoroughly positive half hour.

Back came Howe for one last prolonged assault on the GHK line. The closing five minutes strained the nerves of the home support but somehow the wall was not breached and a really united defensive effort saw the hosts get to the break with their seventeen point advantage intact.

A few minutes after the restart GHK claimed that fourth bonus point try when Danny Campbell ran in after more good work by Hugo Anderson. It was looking good for the hosts.

Howe raised their game further and were getting some joy through the middle with their heavy ball carriers committing defenders. It was their turn to camp close to the GHK line and after a series of controlled drives the reward was a score beside the posts. Five minutes later the visitors’ total was doubled courtesy of a penalty try when an attacker was held back with the line beckoning. The gap had been reduced to ten points with more than a quarter of the game remaining. The next score might determine whether or not the GHK nerves were set for another session in the wringer.

The visitors looked to build further on the gains made, but at critical points the GHK defence very much up to the mark. The hosts had not given up on their attacking habit and if the break was on GHK were very much up for it. A flowing move that covered about seventy metres and that saw the ball moved from left to right and back again culminated in Tony Lopez forcing his way over out on the left. The lead was restored to fifteen points and the OA followers breathed a little more easily.

An over zealous response by Howe saw a punch thrown at and connecting with Robin Coates. A red card left the visitors with a serious disadvantage on a large strength sapping pitch.

GHK were not finished and with bodies tiring and the Fifers a man down there were a few gaps at last appearing. The home side saved the best till last with a try that started deep in their own twenty two. Some assured handling and cracking angles and support play that involved most of the fifteen (or so it seemed) swept the length of the field. There were significant contributions by Tony Lopez, Hugh Parker and Angus Lindsay that allowed Blair Forsyth to cross for a try out of the top drawer. With Danny Campbell adding the extras referee Tom French brought proceedings to a close.   GHK 36   Howe of Fife 14

Possibly GHK’s best eighty minutes of the season. They started well, kept it going and, when the inevitable response from Howe of Fife materialised, the ship was steadied and skipper Parker and his crew navigated the troubled waters successfully. Howe had their moments in attack but their players and coaches were very gracious and complimentary about the GHK performance. Good luck for the rest of the season guys. We look forward to our visit to Cupar scheduled for March 3rd 2018.

The GHK match day squad of nineteen all had a very fine day at the office. The  scrum was utterly dominant and to say that they had the edge understates it by some distance. Similarly the lineout was a fruitful source for the home side. The starting eight and replacements carried, linked and made their tackles. Tired but happy bodies  today I’d imagine.

The Anderson MacKinnon half back combination was more than useful and kept the go forward going forward. There was even some smart kicking. The backs capitalised on plenty front foot possession and made ground time and time again. The Taylors were dangerous all day long. Tony Lopez was quite superb – great hands and a step or two. Robin Coates was involved in much that was good and a couple of touch finders provided timely relief. Blair Forsyth’s two tries demonstrated his eye for a break. Several candidates for player of the day, but given the up front domination and a significant presence in the loose Dr Andrew McCulloch is our numero uno. Well done doc.

In addition to matters relating to the playing side we learned a few things today. Our ball boys are superb – great work again from the GHK minis – you have the contract for the rest of the season and beyond.

You can apparently have too many tweeters, and when you have multiple operatives one requires to take decisive action to shut up the other. Well done Laura. Next time Ronnie.

A penalty try – you now get seven points – no need for a conversion. It rather looked as though the GHK players may have been a little confused and our ever helpful touch judge had joined them under the posts probably to explain the new rules to the confused players. That’s how it was Alto? The clue is in the referee waiting for you at the half way line. Anyway, Howe would have welcomed the additional recovery time.


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