Peebles v GHKRFC 28 October 2017

Having failed to capitalise on and play the conditions in the first half, when they were assisted by a howling gale at their backs, GHK gave themselves too much to do in terms of recovery. That they got back in to the game and came close to leaving the Gytes with something was due almost entirely to the scoring efforts of Danny Campbell whose hat trick of tries was demonstration of the quality of the GHK man.

Playing in to that wind, Peebles got off to a lively start, moving the ball around and punching holes in an unusually tentative GHK defence. A couple of early penalties from close range got the score board moving. Worse was to follow as two Peebles tries of the soft-ish variety stretched the home lead to a worrying eighteen points with barely a quarter of an hour gone.

GHK had enjoyed minimal possession and visits to the Peebles twenty two had been infrequent and unproductive. The game had been bossed by the Red and Whites. Thankfully, and at long last, there was something positive for the travelling support to cheer. Up to that point the highlight had been the local tablet. A typical Hugh Parker break gave Danny Campbell a sniff of space and he had the power and angle to beat the covering defence to the line. 18–7 with enough time left in the half for GHK to reduce the leeway further we hoped.

Not so, it was Peebles who manufactured another try serving up a repeat dose of the hit up and offloading formula that seemed to create acres of space for their lively wings to exploit. Half time Peebles 23  GHK 7

Turning to face the gale as well as the rampant Borders XV, GHK and their supporters may have feared the worse. After barely thirty seconds those concerns materialised as Peebles ran in try number four with a deft chip over the top in to the wide open, defender free spaces. The ball was comfortably gathered and delivered for the easiest of run-ins. Thirty points on the clock with virtually the entire half to go.

From somewhere, GHK discovered a bit of dig and, as the Peebles President had remarked at half time, it is often the case that you can play better rugby facing the challenging conditions. Thankfully, that was how it was working out for GHK. They were successful in stemming the red and white tide and for a while it became a bit of a midfield exchange with neither side seriously threatening the line. Throughout the day GHK had been required to do a lot of tackling and the general rule is that that takes its toll. However, if anything, it was the home pack that was perhaps starting to fade ever so slightly in terms of getting around the pitch.

Danny Campbell reduced the leeway with a quite remarkable solo try again highlighting his skill, power and speed. He evaded and broke through several tacklers and had the gas to see him in under the posts when there was clear water in front of him. This was followed a few minutes later with an interception that still needed some scoring. That man Campbell was never going to be caught. 30-21 to the hosts with about twelve minutes to go.

In that closing period GHK worked one or two decent positions without ever looking like getting that precious fourth try. Peebles managed to ensure that many of the closing minutes were played out deep in GHK territory and a couple of touch finders pinned the visitors in a place that they did not want to be. The recovery could not be completed, GHK coming up just short.  Final score – Peebles 30  GHK 21

Very well done to Peebles. A well deserved victory and yet another day of results in BT National 2 that may have those are trying to work out which side/sides might be favourites for promotion scratching their heads.

Two young sides who both had difficulty harnessing the conditions to their benefit. Peebles did it better than GHK. In fairness this was a much changed GHK XV, especially behind the scrum, and it looked as though it took a while for that unit to gel. That GHK managed to cling on was due to a fair degree of determination, high levels of fitness and the scoring threat of a certain Mr Campbell. The GHK forward effort was largely defensive, making multiple tackles to hold the abrasive Peebles forwards at bay. Thereafter there were some positive contributions from Mark Smyth, Ewan Stewart and Ben Fordyce. Lorne Scott became prominent as the game loosened up.

Man of the match for GHK – do you have to ask? With three tries and all our points it can only be Danny Campbell. What a performance. Outstanding.

Truly deserving of an unprecedented photo insert.

Next week we are due to be at home to Aberdeenshire but as most of the fixtures involving this club have not been fulfilled recently there has to be some doubt. Please check the website.

PS Having enjoyed the pre match hospitality of the Peebles President in their splendid club rooms, I would encourage anyone who may be invited to pre match lunch at Peebles RFC to answer in the affirmative.  Yes, oui, si, ja, count me in. Not to be missed.

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