Lasswade v GHK 01 September 2018
GHK kicked off their 2018-19 league campaign with a fixture against Lasswade. In last season’s games between the sides it was effectively fifteen all with GHK prevailing at OA and the Midlothian team taking the honours in the reverse fixture.
As September 1st is the birthday of Rocky Marciano, the acclaimed heavyweight boxer, who had a record of forty nine victories, no defeats and just the forty three knock outs, GHK might be hoping to mark that anniversary by landing a few early telling blows on their normally combative visitors. However, it was always highly likely to go the distance. Time would tell.
In the event, the home side were pretty lively in the early exchanges and two fine scores from James MacKinnon and Mark Smyth provided a very handy lead. The first try from stand off MacKinnon came courtesy of an interception and a long run in to the end zone. Skipper Smyth ran a cracking line powering over after some slick handling had stretched the Lasswade defence.
The visitors had struggled to get in to the game in an attacking sense, but eventually they gained a bit of momentum and the flow of the match (pretty much all GHK) began to alter. It was the Midlothian men’s turn to display their attacking skills and having stretched the left flank of the home defence, the ball was shipped to the other wing and centre Mark Wilson went over in the corner for a fine score.
GHK managed to keep on the front foot and a Danny Campbell penalty kept the hosts’ tally on the scoreboard turning over. That however was the end of the scoring for the hosts in the first period. Lasswade upped the intensity of their forward effort. This was evidenced by the significant increase in concession of penalties by the home xv. On another day a card might have been produced. The GHK defence was pretty robust and looked as though half time would come without addition to the Lasswade tally. However, having found good position from a penalty deep in to the GHK twenty two, a series of drives concluded with flanker Craig Arnot crossing for the second Lasswade touch down. Two tries a piece at half time but GHK had the advantage at 17 – 10.
GHK started the second period in the same lively style that they had commenced battle at kick off time. Two tries out of the top drawer in the opening seven minutes, whilst not quite being knock out blows, certainly put GHK in a very strong position to see out the game. The third home score came from a Craig Rintoul touchdown after great lead up work from Matthew Chan and Jez Hanks. The fourth and bonus point try was claimed by Hugo Anderson after Danny Campbell, Rory Taylor and that man Chan again had combined to create the opening for the number nine.
With the score now at 31-10 it did look as though Lasswade were starting to flag. Further home scores from James MacKinnon and Tony Lopez stretched the lead as the game opened up. In between, replacement Matthew Smith had replied for the visitors in an act of defiance. Lasswade were just one score short of a bonus point, but that was denied them by a determined GHK defence. The last scoring action of the day was a Hugh Parker classic, running in from deep inside his own half leaving a handful of chasing defenders in his wake.
Full time – GHK 48 Lasswade 15
A very satisfactory performance and result for a first league fixture. Seven tries is a more than decent return. Both sides will feel that there are things that they could do better, but as far as GHK are concerned, this was a quite a cohesive performance and one that offers a deal of encouragement. Lasswade will undoubtedly regroup especially when they have a full squad to pick from.
A number of notable performances from the home side. The centre combination of Rintoul and Taylor looked sharp. Similarly, the half backs Anderson and MacKinnon had a productive day with ball in hand and both seemed well aware of what was going on all around them. The GHK front five made sure that the traditional strength of the Lasswade pack had no chance to dominate. Matthew Chan was always there or thereabouts in defence and attack, providing a couple of critical links in the run up to scores.
The ladies who were in attendance at the GHK Ladies Day voted for Mark Smyth as their player of the day. It is hard to argue with that. Captain Mark did indeed lead from the front and delivered another five star performance. However, whilst not wishing to take issue with the ladies’ choice, our GHK man of the match goes to James MacKinnon who had his best eighty minutes in a GHK jersey and who sparked most of what was good in a very lively home back line. Well done James.
Next week away to Preston Lodge – kick off 3.00. There will be a bus with spaces available for travelling support.