Whitecraigs v GHKRFC

In recent seasons GHK have a pretty decent record in Friday night games. They headed to Whitecraigs in good spirits and hopeful of securing a long overdue first away league win of their BT National Two campaign. You had to go back to August of last year for GHK’s last victory on foreign soil when they knocked Dalziel out of the cup.

On a bitterly cold and windy night, the Whitecraigs’ plans took a knock with the very first play of the match when they lost a man who took a knock in the opening collision. This incident was to have repercussions later in the game. Despite playing into that wind, it was GHK who were enjoying the edge in territory and better quality possession in the first quarter. A number of good field positions were achieved but final execution was a bit hurried and even a tad frantic. Space was at a premium as the home defence was right up in the GHK faces. Attempts to punch through that line were thwarted until, with just over twenty minutes gone, Cammy Hughes blasted over from short range off good scrummage possession. The conversion was added to give a seven point advantage.

Some sloppy GHK defence allowed the hosts in to good position and it was no great surprise when, after they had put together a few phases of ground gaining drives, they stretched the GHK cover and crossed for a well worked try. The attempted conversion did not allow for the gusting wind and was pulled wide.

Try scorer Hughes was again involved in another significant incident, but this time perhaps of a more negative nature, as he was yellow carded having been adjudged by referee Ruaridh Campbell to have been guilty of an illegal challenge in the air. Almost immediately Whitecraigs capitalised on their numerical advantage. Having kicked to the corner, they won their own ball and again after running through the phases they created gaps in the visitors’ defence and claimed try number two. This time the extras were added giving the home side a 12–7 lead and that was how it stood at the break.

GHK had the help of the wind in the second period. A further distinct advantage was the increasing dominance in the scrum. The re-jigged front row of prop McGuire, hooker Haston and tight head McCulloch had established a real edge over their opposite numbers. Indeed the entire GHK eight were very tight in the set scrum all evening and as the second half progressed that advantage became all the more evident. The refreshed centre Hughes returned from his ten minute break and his impact was almost immediate. Working off advancing scrummage ball, Cammy ran a great angle and was over just left off the posts. Again the wind prevented the conversion. Twelve apiece with about half an hour to go.

Through the gloom was observed a prolonged onfield discussion involving the referee and the home captain. The outcome was that scrums were to be uncontested. This does seem to happen quite often. The Whitecraigs player who had gone down in the opening moments had obviously disrupted the home front row plans for the duration of the game. The effect was to nullify an advantage that GHK had been exploiting rather nicely in the previous fifteen minutes or so.

Neither side had really marshalled the wind to significant effect and with the handling of both sets of backs no doubt handicapped by the powerful gales and icy conditions it was all a bit disjointed at times. However, GHK did look marginally the more likely.

Thankfully for the OA contingent, it was the lads in the blue, green and white hoops that succeeded in completing a couple of long range tries, firstly with Angus Lindsay forcing his way over after good ground had been made by the ever willing GHK backs. The concluding score was similar in nature with the move that culminated in Blair Forsyth’s touch down starting deep in the GHK half.

The GHK cause in the second period had been aided by timely interventions and injections of fresh energy from replacements Ben Frame (making a welcome return), Ben Farmer, who looked on one occasion as if he had cut loose from the defensive barrier in front of him only to be thwarted by the second wave of cover, and Duncan Campbell making his first xv debut. His mobility and aggression  contributed well to a necessary defensive effort as the game closed out.

Whitecraigs, again aided by some strange options taken by GHK, forced their way back in to the visitors’ twenty two. The uncontested scrums guaranteed possession and, after a couple of breenges led principally by centre Wamberg, claimed their third score. The conversion was drop kicked successfully. The re-start kick off would be the last play of the game. James MacKinnon fired a cracker deep in to the home twenty two. However, the ball was gathered safely and Whitecraigs worked through the phases, making ground all the while shredding the nerves of the GHK support. To much relief, the defence did the job and a knock on was the sign for the final whistle.

Whitecraigs 19 GHK 22

Thanks to Jon Jewitt and all at Whitecraigs for a very warm welcome, and trust me the warmth was necessary and welcome indeed. Good luck for the remainder of the season and beyond.  In a game that was close to call, GHK are delighted to have edged it. It was not the best of performances but any bonus point win is precious in this league.

Thanks to all the players and the touch line team, including touch judge Alto Miller who is clearly a natural. Further, to the hardy souls who endured the Arctic wind, thanks again for turning out and braving the chill.

Particular thanks are due to past president Woolard who chose this game to model his new and rather splendid tartan trousers. This season’s must have fashion item. He did cut rather a dash and for that reason he is the GHK man of the match.

Next game OA 24 March v Peebles kick off 3.00

This also happens to be Ladies Day which doubles as a fund raiser for Breast Cancer Care Scotland. Ladies particularly welcome, but gents should also feel free to attend.


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