GHK v Stewart’s Melville 6 October 2018

After a well attended and most enjoyable and entertaining pre-match lunch, featuring some marvelous stories and thought provoking comments from Stew Mel chairman Finlay Calder, GHK and Stew Mel set about their own Glasgow/Edinburgh shoot out on the magnificent playing surface that is the main pitch at OA. At the end of proceedings, the men from the eastern end of the M8 had well and truly done a job on their Glasgow rivals and one suspects that the bus journey back along the old road would have been very jolly indeed.

Playing towards the pavilion, and with the assistance of a helpful breeze, Stew Mel got proceedings underway and they were very quickly into their stride, playing a brand of bright, lively rugby that was, even in those early stages, making ominous dents in the home defence. Nothing too clever, but everything done quickly but not in a frantic sense. Great support lines by multiple runners gave the ball carrier options and frequently the ball was just popped up, almost blind, with complete confidence in the pod of supporting runners.

Centre Adam Greig carved through for the first try after eight minutes and, when the visitors gained a perfect attacking position, about six minutes later, in midfield twelve metres out , the try from first phase possession (that was the first of a hat trick from winger Sean Murchie) was a wee bit too easily executed.

GHK had a decent spell of possession but the Stew Mel defence was as well drilled as their attacking efforts. Despite a couple of lively runs by Fin Callaghan and Craig Rintoul, the red and yellow line was not seriously threatened. Indeed, the visitors’ advantage was stretched via a penalty after a Hugo Anderson high tackle. With ten minutes of the half remaining GHK would probably have settled for that fifteen point deficit, turning round with the wind at their backs. It looked as though GHK might even have the chance to threaten the Stew Mel line when Kyle Henderson kicked accurately to the corner. Alas, the GHK line out drill picked the wrong time to malfunction. It was a missed opportunity. To make matters worse, from the last play of the half, the visitors ran the length of the pitch and claimed their third try of the day. Half time GHK 0  Stew Mel 22.

The visitors kept up as they had concluded the first period and only some ‘all hands to the pumps’ frantic scrambling denied the ever dangerous Edinburgh men. It was however only damage deferred as the fourth bonus try came with five minutes of the half gone. Given the flow of the game and the incisive nature of the Stew Mel attacks it had all seemed rather inevitable. The fifth try was claimed after about fifty five minutes when again the home defence was stretched to breaking point.

So much of what was good about the Stew Mel performance was sparked by scrum half Fraser Strachan who gave something of a master class. He was not alone however. Behind the scrum there was a very effective unit and a dangerous back three. The forwards did their bit by punching holes, supporting in numbers and generally providing a suitable platform for the backs to do their stuff. It was an excellent squad performance.

GHK did not help themselves in that in the first hour they probably made enough unforced errors to fill half of a season. No doubt when mistakes and misjudgements are being made in such numbers confidence is dented, but the GHK performance was insipid and disjointed. No one could be faulted for lack of effort, but in terms of comparative game plans, Stew Mel had cleaned up.

Having said that, GHK kept going and managed to spend some time in the visitors’ twenty two. At last the line was breached when Alex McGuire was driven over after a well drilled line out catch and drive. In the time that remained the home support were looking for some additional crumbs of consolation. Despite some huffing and puffing it all came to nought and it was the visitors who finished as they had begun by cutting the GHK defence apart adding two more tries, the seventh being the last play of the match. GHK’s misery was done.

Full time  GHK 7  Stew Mel 46

So, GHK’s first home defeat of the season, and it was a sore one. Even given that Stew Mel had just come down from National One at the end of last season, looking at results in this season to date, GHK would have expected to run the visitors a whole lot closer than they did. The post game analysis will be interesting and maybe a bit uncomfortable. Much to be done in advance of next week’s visit to Cupar to take on Howe of Fife who also find themselves in the nether regions of the league.

Nothing should take away from a first class display of accurate, free flowing rugby from Stew Mel. They may not have the ballast of some of the favourites for league honours, but in terms of skill and execution they are as good as anything in National Two. Well done today and good luck for the challenges ahead.

GHK’s next battle awaits in Fife. We know you can do it . As Hon President Friebe might say ‘Come on GHK, you are better than this!’

PS Difficult call for GHK player of the day, but Captain Hurn kept going to the death and as ever led by example, and so gets the badge. Well done skipper.

Meanwhile, a little ray of sunshine for GHK supporters was delivered courtesy of the Twos who gave GHA twelve points of a start but who then conjured up thirty seven (approx) of their own without further reply. A good victory against an outfit that is normally there or thereabouts. The result keeps GHK well placed in the league and on a very decent run of form. Keep it going men. Playing good, winning rugby creates its own momentum and team spirit. Many hard games ahead but nothing to fear.

 

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