GHK v Kirkcaldy RFC 10.03.2018

League leaders and promotion favourites Kirkcaldy visited Old Anniesland to take on GHK in a fixture that was originally set down for January. The clash with the Dublin pilgrimage meant that the GHK coaches had a few selection issues but the xv that took to the pitch looked to carry a lot of attacking potential behind the scrum. The question would be could the GHK forward effort stand up to the expected full frontal Fife onslaught.

GHK got proceedings underway and attacking the pavilion end and having the marginal benefit of a gusting cross field wind. Predictably, the lighter GHK outfit tried to move their more substantial opponents about the drookit paddock. That strategy worked initially as the home side retained possession and stretched the visitors’ defence. However, when the Fife men eventually got some ball and moved the game in to the home twenty two, you felt that the signs for the hosts were ominous. After a series of powerful forward incursions, space was created for centre Laird to scoot over under the posts.

Kirkcaldy, being quick on the uptake, tried to repeat the dose with what seemed like an endless supply of direct forward drives. However, the GHK defence and tackling was effective and no ground was conceded easily. Alex McGuire, centres Hughes and Taylor along with locks Wintersgill and Lindsay were prominent in knocking them down.

GHK had shown promise in attack and after twenty five minutes Danny Campbell and Cammy Hughes made several dozen yards and when pressure was put on the covering defence Rory Taylor was there to touch down for a well earned score.

Back came the Fifers with a familiar formula in attack. Determined forward combinations turned up the pressure on GHK. Most calls seemed to be going in favour of the visitors and a series of scrums in the GHK red zone eventually led to a second Kirkcaldy try.

Again the home side responded with drive and purpose. GHK were winning decent possession and challenging the league leaders. A Kirkcaldy clearing kick was gathered by Jez Hanks just outside the GHK twenty two. He offloaded to Danny Campbell who ran it back for the best part of sixty metres and crossed wide out right for try number two for GHK. 14 – 10 with maybe a couple of minutes of the half remaining. It was another DC special.

GHK would have hoped to get to the break within just the one score, but one final visit to the home twenty two gave Kirkcaldy the chance to extend the lead and yet again the resolute forward platform set the scene for another try with the last play of the half.   21 – 10 to the visitors at half time.

In the early stages of the second period,  Kirkcaldy seemed to have a strangle hold on possession and territory and the screw was turned with a couple of trademark tries. GHK’s cause was not helped when, somewhat remarkably, the smallest man on the park was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle on one of the larger specimens in a generously proportioned Fife pack. During the period of numerical disadvantage the GHK scrum held their own and even turned the tide on the Kirkcaldy eight on a couple of occasions.

It has to be said that conditions were truly awful for players and spectators. Bitterly cold and driving rain. In the circumstances some fine rugby was served up. Try number six was added to the Blue tally as the championship leaders moved well out of sight. GHK kept going and continued to look lively and threatening even in the late stages. Unfortunately opportunities had been limited and it has to be said that Kirkcaldy had worked out a way to keep the dangerous home backs at bay – don’t allow them to have the ball! Fortunately, some possession was secured and Danny Campbell sniped over for a third score with a couple of minutes remaining.

Looking to claim a four try bonus point, that man Campbell, combing with Blair Forsyth, was nearly away again, but frozen fingers could not hold on to an inside pass with inviting space ahead.

Full time  GHK 17  Kirkcaldy 38

Congratulations to president Jimmy Bonner and his squad. A well deserved win and another step along the way to what looks like certain promotion. Not long to go now.

For GHK it was a day when, fairly predictably, it was challenging up front. Availability and injury just magnified the challenges presented by a confident Kirkcaldy side.

A great eighty minute shift by the front row of McCulloch, McGuire and Fordyce. The new middle row combination of Lindsay and Wintersgill got stuck in. The GHK backs showed intent all day and stuck to their fairly relentless defensive duties making it hard for the opposition to gain ground. Rory Taylor continued his fine form in the centre. The half back combination of Anderson and MacKinnon had been operating very smoothly until injury curtailed the stand off’s day. The conditions were far from ideal for clean, crisp handling and given the day some of the back play was pretty smart.

GHK man of the match – Alex McGuire (apologies for blabbing the score in the Ireland game – but you have been saved a couple of hours of disappointment!)

Next game – Friday 16 March away to Whitecraigs 7.45 kick off

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