Peebles v GHK 05 January 2019

A much changed GHK squad arrived at the Gytes on Saturday for the first league action of 2019. The rearranged fixture with the Border side looked to be a daunting challenge  for the visitors as multiple call offs denied the team the experience and physicality that would surely be required to take something home from Peebles other than a bruise or three.

The youthful, scratch GHK side started the match really well. They retrieved possession from their own kick off and ran through a number of composed, positive phases, retaining the ball and gaining ground. The home line was threatened but the nearest GHK got to points was a Kyle Henderson penalty that came back off the post (and the ensuing scramble from that really tested the home defence).

The opening ten minutes had been played largely in the Peebles half with GHK looking good. The main challenge to GHK at this time came from the powerful home set scrum that looked, in these early stages, to have an advantage that would offer up a fine platform and many penalties. To the immense credit of the GHK forwards, they stuck to it, and in the end the scums were not the ominous advantage to the hosts that they looked as though they might have been in this challenging early moments.

Peebles opened the scoring after twelve minutes with a sweeping move up the right and when a tackle was broken they were away. It was a harsh lesson given the pattern of play. GHK kept up their protection of the ball and did some decent things. Kyle Henderson kept them on the front foot with Fin Callaghan and Robin Coates willing chasers. However, the final pass was, as they say in American football, ‘incomplete’. When an occasional alternative long floating/miss pass was attempted, it did rather look as though the unfamiliarity of the backs as a unit was evident.

The Peebles number nine David Wills had a fine game. When his forwards produced a series of drives near the GHK line the scrum half nipped over when the cover was stretched. 14-0 to the hosts. GHK really needed the next score to stay in the game.

The Glasgow cause was aided when the Peebles middle row Murdo Anderson was yellow carded for a high tackle. Whilst the particular offence was perhaps not the worst of its type, the sin binning was as a result of a few prior offences. GHK took advantage of the man advantage and spent time in/around the home twenty two. Alex McGuire, Jez Hanks and the entire back row carried well and took the game to the hosts. Indeed the entire fifteen was extremely competitive and made life really difficult for the Borders men.

With half time looming, Kyle Henderson stuck the ball in behind the home defence. The chasers led by Robin Coates scragged the defence. An attempted clearing kick was fielded by stand off Henderson. He broke a tackle and sent the scrambling defence the wrong way as he crossed for a fine and well deserved score. The extras were added and that was how it stood at the break. Peebles 14  GHK 7.

That was as good as it got for GHK. Peebles dominated the second half, without really spending any prolonged periods camped deep in the GHK twenty two. GHK continued to try and create opportunities but were unable to play much of the half in Peebles territory. Two tries in the third quarter made the game safe and indeed even a score of 26 – 7 was a bit harsh on GHK. Tries five and six in the last two minutes rubbed salt in to the GHK wounds. Even the Peebles committee freely conceded that the score flattered them.

There was some doubt as to whether the final score was thirty eight or forty points to Peebles. Both touch judges would appear to have been distracted as a conversion was attempted. Was it a passing bus or the smell of the soup/home baking from the stall at the touchline? We are calling it 38 – 7 to the home side.

So, another defeat for GHK and results elsewhere did us no favours. Time to stand up guys. We are getting very close to the ‘must win’ fixtures. This brings an uncomfortable pressure, but there is a belief that we have the manpower and talent within the club to get this job done. I happen to agree with that. Go on, prove me right!

Back to the match, it was a very brave and determined performance from a largely inexperienced GHK squad. The whole nineteen got stuck in and could not be faulted for commitment and a fair degree of skill. Peebles had a bit more of a cutting edge and a couple of strike runners that turned chances in to points. A fine effort though from a squad that had been somewhat thrown together. GHK player of the day – many feisty contenders, but Angus Lindsay just edged it. Well done Angus, more of the same next week please.

Next fixture, Dumfries at OA Saturday 12th January 3.00 kick off. All support welcomed.  

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