Newton Stewart 5 October 2019

It has been a couple of seasons since GHK and Newton Stewart locked horns in league in business. Back then, whether it was in National 3 or Regional League, the games tended to be pretty tight. So it proved again with GHK prevailing by the narrowest of margins.

The match was preceded by a lively Q&A in the clubhouse involving a couple of GHK players, Adam Ashe and a certain Mr Peter Wright who entertained and informed as only he can. However, and no disrespect intended to the players’/coach’s input, the main event was the presentation by the MacLean brothers regarding their quite remarkable BROAR project/expedition. Intrepid does not come close to doing it justice. It was great to see Jamie, Ewan and Lachlan all looking obscenely fit. Clearly they are up for the mammoth challenge that lies ahead. We wish them all the very best for their adventure of a lifetime. If anyone can do it, it is the brothers MacLean. For more information and to support the lads, see www.broar.co.uk.

To the game itself, GHK started quite brightly but it was plain to see that the Newton Stewart defence was well structured with no tackles missed and a solid line maintained. Breaching that line would not be straightforward. Indeed, having repelled the early GHK attacks, first blood was drawn by the visitors. GHK were marched back an additional ten yards after a penalty award was followed by some chat. That put the kick to the corner in range and from the line out the NS driving maul was revealed for the first time. It was a feature of the visitors’ game that GHK took a while to get to grips with. Anyway, from said maul, after a couple of drives, the ball was shipped in to midfield and the Reds were over by the posts. Not the GHK’s defence’s finest hour. The conversion was added.

The GHK scrum was dominating the tight exchanges and that was providing a decent platform to set the backs free. Again however, nothing was being conceded cheaply by a tigerish Newton Stewart defence. After twenty five minutes, it was from a line out wide right deep in the visitors’ twenty two that GHK opened their account. Centres Hughes and Cuthbert made space and Danny Campbell gave the scoring pass to left wing Gavin McKirdy who just made it over in the left corner. The conversion slipped wide.

The Newton Stewart driving maul reappeared to great effect and a series of five metre scrums tested the home defence. The danger was finally cleared thanks to a mighty clearance from Ben Frame. There was not much more in the way of try scoring opportunities created, but with the last kick of the half GHK sneaked ahead when Jack Cuthbert converted a penalty in to an awkward breeze. In a tight game even the slightest advantage could be significant.

Half time GHK 8 Newton Stewart 7.

Early in the second period the boot of that man Cuthbert added to the GHK lead with another straightforward penalty. The home support looked to the hosts to build on that advantage, but the slick attacking form of recent weeks was just not there today, added to which the Reds defence gave little away. Having got in to a decent attacking position, Newton Stewart missed what turned out to be a crucial penalty. However, a few moments later they claimed their three points from another penalty award. It was back to a one point game with almost a quarter of an hour remaining.
Newton Stewart came close on a few occasions mainly via that very effective close driving game. Thankfully the GHK defence stood up to the challenge. In attack, GHK had a couple of chances to create a bit of breathing space, but these too were spurned. The Newton Stewart contingent encouraged their players on to one last effort whilst the GHK entourage looked to referee Ramsay to bring proceedings to an end. When it came, the final whistle was indeed a great relief to the OA supporters.

Final score GHK 11 Newton Stewart 10.

An outcome that sees GHK bag four points for the win whereas Newton Stewart go down the road with that solitary losing bonus point. On the balance of play that was maybe a wee bit harsh, but no doubt there will be times in the season ahead when GHK might feel a little short changed. That is just the way it goes. The game was played in an excellent spirit and all credit goes to President Graham Morton and his tight knit, talented group. It will be interesting down at Bladnoch Park in January.

Not the most impressive GHK performance, but a win is a win as they say. Strong performances from Angus Lindsay, Walter Gilbert and the GHK front row. Jack Cuthbert was prominent in GHK’s efforts behind the scrum and just edges the player of the day award. Well done Jack.

Back in the clubhouse, the MacLean brothers and their boat had set off for the East. They had been replaced by three other ‘M’s’ – Mottram, Main and MacIver. Three equally intrepid individuals whose main challenge was whether to have another. They did. Nice to see the three wise men.

Next week away to Peebles – second versus third. Tough it will be.

Finally, thanks as always to our sponsors. A special mention to Campbell Dallas who supported the pre match lunch. Thanks for helping make it a successful event, Finally, finally thanks to Cairnhill Structures for their support throughout the season. Their association with the MacLean boys’ BROAR project suggests that this amazing challenge will conclude with a positive outcome.

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