Whitecraigs v GHK 27 October 2018
Well, GHK got there in the end, but in keeping with recent games, the nerves and emotions of the travelling OA support were stretched to the limit on occasions, before GHK finally secured their first league victory on the road this season with a deserved 25 – 18 win over Whitecraigs.
On a perfect day for rugby, GHK responded well to a bright start by the hosts and, having got in to a threatening field position, Kyle Henderson surprised everyone by slotting over a rather smart drop goal. Sweetly struck indeed. Shortly thereafter a Rory Taylor break came very close to the opening try but the final pass went astray. A score then would have put additional pressure on Whitecraigs. As it was, they held firm and on their next incursion in to the GHK twenty two, a penalty chance was accepted and the scores equalised.
The formidable home pack looked to have an early edge in the scrum. However, on closer inspection (actually it was glaringly obvious even from forty metres range) there was something seriously wrong/illegal with the home binding. Once the referee clocked this, not only was the home advantage annulled, but GHK started to hold a decisive edge in the tight. This situation continued for the remainder of the match.
After a period of stout defence, GHK went through the gears again and came close on a number of occasions, but they were held up short by some determined home tackling and an outbreak of penalty offences that probably ought to have led to a yellow card. You felt that a try was imminent and indeed it was, Sadly for GHK, a Whitecraigs breakout covered pretty well the length of the pitch and, with the visitors in attack mode, defenders were thin on the ground a try in the shadow of the posts was the outcome.
GHK bounced back and a disputed penalty gave Kyle Henderson the chance to reduce the gap to four points. The trusty left foot did the needful. Half time, 10 – 6 to the hosts.
GHK continued their positive play at the start of the second period and with the home penalties increasing like the national debt, the yellow card was duly produced. Almost immediately Jez Hanks, middle row/occasional centre, battered through and was credited with touching down at the base of the post. The conversion gave GHK a three point lead that was entirely justified on the flow of the game.
Back came Whitecraigs and once again a penalty offence afforded the hosts the chance to level the scores with another well struck conversion. All square at thirteen all. The GHK cause was dented when the hard working Lewis Brock was forced from the field after a heavy knock. Lewis Rowand took the place of the other Lewis with Nick Hurn moving in to the middle row.
There were undoubtedly a few nerves in the air as both sides tried to work a winning position. GHK did have an edge in terms of possession, territory and line breaking. Erwann le Balc’h and Hugh Parker came close. Fraser Christie carried and punched holes in a tiring home defence. Kyle Henderson kicked GHK in to the home twenty two and a very well worked front of the line out move saw last year’s skipper Hugh Parker catch and drive and put this season’s captain Nick Hurn over for an important score. The conversion from wide left went close but not close enough. A five point advantage for GHK.
From the kick off GHK reclaimed possession and powered back in to hosts’ twenty two. Somehow the home line held firm. A series of five metre scrums came to nothing. A simple penalty chance was overlooked. Surely that would not come back to haunt GHK? Well, when Whitecraigs, after being under the cosh for a prolonged period, squeezed over in the corner for a levelling score, the travelling support groaned a collective ‘Oh no, not again!’
With the scores tied at eighteen all, GHK continued to play the game in the Whitecraigs half. Kyle Henderson looked to be awfully optimistic when he lined up a penalty shot from just outside the Whitecraigs ten metre line. He had the distance but his mammoth effort slipped agonisingly wide. However, the home side were well and truly pinned in their own twenty two and GHK were bossing the game as the clock ran down. The familiar formula of a few close things and a handful of penalties was repeated. Whitecraigs were on the back foot. Could they hold out?
On the award of yet another penalty, Danny Campbell took a quick one and somehow managed to squeeze through the narrowest of gaps for the decisive score. DC had been held up on a few occasions earlier in the game, but his persistence and sharp eye had paid off. Kyle Henderson took his time with the conversion and duly added the extras. No whistle? There was time for one more play. There go those GHK nerves again! Well we needn’t have worried. Hugh Parker claimed a high hanging restart under pressure and the ball was safely transmitted to that man Henderson who joyously lumped it in the direction of the M77. Game over. A win for the visitors by 25 -18.
A well deserved and hard fought victory against a side one place above GHK in National Two. Still a lot to work on but many encouraging signs and performances. Better defence, a greater cutting edge and good communication on the park. There were bound to be nerves and no doubt those would have impacted on the odd decision and game management choice. However, GHK held the upper hand in most aspects of play and fashioned a number of good field positions and on another day might have won more convincingly.
In terms of outstanding performances, for GHK there were a few. The front row, indeed the entire pack, stuck to and dominated their weighty opponents. The GHK line out was secure and latterly messed up the home efforts at their throw in. This was perhaps the most abrasive back row combination from GHK in the season to date. Christie, Parker and Hurn will be tired boys today. Jez Hanks, as mentioned before, doubles as a forward grafter and intruding centre. He had an influential eighty minutes.
Behind the scrum, the return of Rory Taylor added some pace and cutting edge to the line. He was so close on a number of occasions. Erwann Le Balc’h is a find. Danny Campbell had a good day at scrum half and then at centre. His number nine replacement Hugo Anderson had a very bright contribution and his service seemed half a second sharper. Today’s man of the match goes to a bloke whose form has been on an upward curve in the last few weeks and who today was really influential in the good things that GHK achieved. Step forward Kyle Henderson. Well done to the number ten!
Next week a wee bit of a challenge with the visit of high flying league leaders Biggar to OA. Och well, the Biggar they are……….sorry about that.
To add to the general mood of GHK happiness on Saturday, the Mighty Twos, after some eleventh hour personnel adjustments, enjoyed a bonus point victory over the fence at New Anniesland. 29 – 24 I believe. Well done to Jason C, Barrie G and the rest. Always a most fulfilling experience. I wonder if anyone could hear any singing?
Finally, finally Henry Gray’s GHK Students made it a full house with a win over Irvine Twos. 38 – 21 sounds like a pretty decent game. Congratulations to all involved. A lot of effort goes in to putting this team on the park and well it all comes together that is just rather fine. A good reward for a lot of hard work.
It has been a while since we had a full house of positive results. A few more Saturdays like this please.