GHK Howe of Fife 26 January 2019

A hat trick of Danny Campbell tries eventually saw GHK over the line for the much needed bonus point win against fellow National Two strugglers Howe of Fife. However, the often frantic and frenetic eighty plus minutes of rugby can have done nothing for the general health and wellbeing of the supporters and backroom staff on both sides. It was an uncomfortable hour and a half.

With the lunchtime monsoon having abated Howe, playing towards the pavilion were immediately in to the groove, and if GHK did touch the ball before the opening try was scored it was only to take the kick off. Not the start that the hosts were looking for but at least there was time to make good the early damage.

GHK did manage to play large chunks of the first period well in to the Howe half but they were unable to capitalise. A few missed opportunities hinted to the GHK supporters that this might just be one of those days. Surely not? Danny Campbell went close and what looked like a relatively simple three on one was lost when the ball did not make it through the second pair of hands. A similar good position, this time out right, looked to have fallen foul to the same disappointing handling. Thankfully Nick Hurn was on hand to rescue the situation when he regained possession and drove over.

As the half drew to a close things took an even better turn for GHK as, after a breakout from their own twenty two, carried on by Jez Hanks, Danny Campbell was sent clear up the left and he had the pace to beat the covering defence in to the corner. A great turnaround for GHK in the last four minutes of the half.   10-7 to GHK at the break.

GHK started well in the second period but again, despite the advantage of territory and possession, they could not convert their upper hand in to points. Howe looked to have an opportunity to clear their lines after the award of a penalty against GHK. However, in the immediate aftermath of the initial offence, something was said or done that caused referee Wright (the referee is always right) to reverse the award. This allowed Kyle Henderson to plant the ball deep in the Howe twenty two. A secure line out and a few phases later Danny Campbell was in for his second try after another well judged angle.

A ten point lead against what looked like a tiring opposition suggested that GHK were looking good for the last twenty five minutes. However, from the visitors’ restart, GHK seemed to revert to error mode and passes did not go to hand, knock-ons were frequent and kicks were erratic. To add to all that, referee Wright (never wrong) awarded a string of penalties against GHK. That just added to the hosts’ discomfort.

A very kickable penalty was missed by Howe but they kept the pressure on and a few more penalties saw GHK reduced to fourteen with the finger of guilt being pointed at Scott Bell who was having a fine game indeed. His departure, along with other injuries acquired during the match, led to uncontested scrums. The first of these was a five metre play with a Howe put in. The GHK defence held firm after a number eight pick up and a series of powerful charges.

A man down, and with Howe having staged something of a revival, it was just as well that the home tackling and concentration remained solid in this spell. A welcome clearing kick was chased down by Erwann Le Balc’h. He scragged the Howe winger and somehow GHK retrieved possession. The Frenchman’s efforts were all the more remarkable as he was clearly carrying an injury. His hunting down of the opposition was his last contribution. It turned out to be a vital one though as GHK capitalised on this field position by working through the phases allowing Danny Campbell to crash over from short range from another inviting flat pass. Back to a ten point advantage.

There was still time for Howe to claim a third try of their own and for GHK to miss with a long range penalty (with the last kick of the game) that would have seen the visitors miss out on their losing bonus point. Final score GHK 24  Howe of Fife  19

The league positions of both sides kind of hinted that nerves might play a part and they did. However, GHK will be delighted at securing the five points. Results elsewhere mean that there is still much to be done to secure their position in National Two. The fixtures after the first Six Nations break will be crucial starting with Falkirk away on March 2nd.

Back to today, a number of excellent performances from the GHK squad. The half backs Ben Frame and James MacKinnon did well. Danny Campbell was excellent. In the forwards, Scott Bell, Angus Lindsay and Jeremy Hanks all put in a serious shift. Lewis Brock returned and looked to be getting back to his best with a powerful second half. GHK man of the match was Cameron Crozier – a fabulous effort for the full eighty minutes (less that brief interval when he was called off only to have to return to the fray almost immediately). Well done Cameron. There is more to come.

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