Kirkcaldy v GHK 30 September 2017

Leaving the monsoon season in the West, GHK travelled to Fife in expectation of a serious test, particularly up front, from a Kirkcaldy side that had started the season well and who traditionally play a forward dominated style of rugby. Events unfolded much as predicted

However, with the sun on their backs, GHK started brightly and made full use of the wide expanse of the pitch at Beveridge Park. With forwards providing tidy ball, the OA threequarters found early gaps and a break by Danny Campbell put the impressive Fraser Gosse in for a stylish score. That was followed by a Blair Forsyth touchdown that was aided by good build up play involving Nick Hurn and Scott Davidson

As the Blues of Kirkcaldy regrouped under the posts you felt that the forward riposte was on its way. GHK did not deal with the restart particularly well and a penalty award saw the home side kick for decent position. A forward onslaught was repelled but another penalty concession was punished with three points to the hosts

It was GHK’s turn to demonstrate that they were more than able to compete up front as, when they contrived a red zone attacking position, they took it to their abrasive opponents with a catch and drive that saw hooker McGuire claim the score (despite the pleas of a certain A McCulloch)

This was the signal for Kirkcaldy to augment their already formidable front row with the introduction of replacement prop George Mangalo. His physical presence gave the home side an edge in the scrums that had been evenly contested thus far. A scrum close to the OA side’s line had inevitable score written all over it and the lead was brought back to 17-10.

GHK continued to stretch the home defence at every opportunity and it was Cammy Hughes’ turn to make the break putting Robin Coates clear on the left. The winger touched down but the conversion was just out of Danny Campbell’s range.

With the last few plays of the half back came Kirkcaldy and the forward assaults seemed to carry even more intensity. The GHK defence held out several drives but eventually the dam was breached with another close quarters try that was made all the more disappointing with the award of a yellow card to Cammy Hughes whose defensive efforts were deemed to have crossed the line.

The half ended in rather chaotic scenes as the home side obviously thought that the conversion was the last act of the first period and appeared to be gathering for their half time chin wag. There must have been a breakdown in communication as GHK were encouraged to take the restart. There followed much scrambling back of the ‘don’t panic’ variety by the hosts. The GHK kick off was eventually fielded and booted over the Kirkcaldy dead ball area to finally bring down the curtain on the half. Half time Kirkcaldy 17 GHK 2

A man down courtesy of the late yellow card, GHK gave a bit of a master class in keeping possession, playing with great control and generally managing the game really smartly. Indeed, a further try scoring chance was not taken and that would have been the cherry on top of a real top quality passage of play.

Inevitably, Kirkcaldy revived and once again it was via their forward play. Lead by number eight Dayle Turner, their driving combinations were consistently gaining serious ground. The OA cause was not helped by a flow of penalty awards that allowed the hosts to keep the pressure on. One such penalty reduced the gap to a mere two points. GHK did not help themselves when, having been given the opportunity to clear their lines, touch was not found.

Two home tries in six minutes saw the home side in to the lead. The first score was via a forward driven onslaught. The second was a penalty try as Kirkcaldy enjoyed a period of dominance in the scrum. There followed further scoreboard confusion as to whether the penalty try counted for five or seven points. In any event, the hosts now enjoyed a ten point lead and there was a feeling that the tide had turned.

Thankfully, the GHK reply was instant and effective. Nick Hurn scragged possession on the edge of the home twenty two twisted and turned his way through a couple of tackles final wrestling over for a remarkable score. Danny Campbell added the extra two.

Kirkcaldy tried to batter the visitors one last time, but GHK kept in the game and with ten minutes to go it was the hosts’ turn to infringe within Danny Campbell range and the stand off did the needful with a kick that did just enough but got there nonetheless. All square and all to play for. Who would prevail? The forward/close driving Kirkcaldy machine or the expansive OA style

Well, in fairness, that last period was spent largely in the GHK half but without necessarily threatening the line. Two penalty wards were taken by the home stand off and GHK were unable to get possession in an area that would allow them open up just one last time. A penalty against GHK for collapsing a Kirkcaldy scrum, with the clock running down, was the last significant act

Full time Kirkcaldy 38  GHK 3

A game that GHK could, perhaps should, have won. A couple of lapses and misjudgements were harshly punished. GHK outscored the hosts five to four in terms of tries and with a bit more composure that could have been significantly more. However, two bonus points is a not too bad return for the day’s efforts.

Whilst there is obvious disappointment at the outcome, there is much to be positive about in relation to individual performances and combinations. League debutants Fraser Gosse, Hugo (Shuggie) Anderson and Ross Steven had cracking games, and with the latter two only a few months out of school rugby their contributions were all the more remarkable.

The GHK pack stood up well to the  scrum challenge of the much vaunted Kirkcaldy eight (plus formidable rotating replacements) only being bettered on a few occasions. They laid a sound platform for Shuggie, sorry Hugo, Anderson to deliver a very composed eighty minutes for which he is our player of the day. Well done young man.

Next week Biggar at Balgray – kick off 3.00. get along and support this exciting GHK XV.

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