Peebles v GHK Saturday 22nd January 2022 Match Report

GHK made the trip to The Gytes knowing that any points gained would be hard-earned. Peebles have a fine home record and GHK had failed to record a victory here since their promotion to Tennent’s National League 2 in season 2016-17.

Peebles welcomed back their captain Neil Hogarth to what is always a formidable front row, although were still missing players from long-term injuries. GHK, for their part, had a few forwards missing, with Mark Preston stepping into the second row and erstwhile centre Jack Steele starting the game at blindside wing forward – not a situation that was to last very long, perhaps ultimately to GHK’s advantage.

GHK started brightly, constricting Peebles to their own half for much of the opening quarter. However, they only had one score to show for their territorial dominance with one of several promising line out catch and drives resulting in a score for hooker Feargus Haston.  Flanker Steele duly converted for the first success of what turned out to be an excellent day from the tee. 0-7

Peebles first incursion into the GHK half on 16 minutes saw the visitors’ centre Craig Gossman take a knock in a tackle which caused him to be replaced with Toby Jeffreys coming into the back row and Jack Steele moving to his more accustomed position in the threequarters.

Although GHK continued to be in the ascendancy both in terms of territory and possession, Peebles were far from out of the game, their only reward for some pressure was a penalty in the 25th minute. It looked very like that would be the narrow margin at half-time, until GHK kicked yet another penalty to the corner and, although the initial drive was contained, stand off Grant Anderson made a crucial break and slipped the ball to the supporting Ben Frame with the GHK captain able to touch down between the posts. The conversion by Steele making the lead a slightly more comfortable 14-3 to the away side at the break.

GHK started the second half brightly and it was just reward when winger Ben Hutton evaded his man to score in the corner after some good interplay. 3-19 after 46 minutes.

Peebles fought their way up the pitch and, from a lineout drive of their own scored in the corner to make it 8-19 with half an hour to play.

GHK were looking the fitter side with Peebles’ increasingly desperate defence resulting in two yellow cards for the home side, GHK taking full advantage with Jack Steele crashing over and converting his own try to secure a valuable bonus point. 26-8.

Perhaps GHK’s best try was to follow as that man Steele (giving him the due credit denied to him by our short-sighted chief Tweeter!) threw a finely judged cut-out pass to winger Kerr Gossman to go over in the corner, the touchline conversion again nailed by Steele.

GHK’s final score saw captain Frame secure his brace with some fine support running. Touchline conversion, almost inevitably, successful.

For the home support, the best was yet to come with home skipper Hogarth breaking free from the victors’ 22 and trundling over to wrap up the scoring at Peebles 13 GHK 40.

GHK’s Head Coach Peter Wright was understandably very satisfied with the efforts of his team as he said in his post-match interview with Borders Rugby TV: ‘We broke the Peebles defence down and eventually got the rewards we probably deserved with the rugby we tried to play.’

Brief match highlights and Peter’s interview can be seen here:

GHK produced a disciplined performance which was based on a hard-working 80 minutes from the pack, to which all contributed. The front ow, after some early issues, competed well at scrum time against an experienced Peebles front row, Gus Troop and Hugh Parker dominated the line out disrupting Peebles ball on numerous occasions. Both Mark Preston and Toby Jeffreys stepped up and it was good to welcome David Paterson back. Behind the scrum, captain Ben Frame varied options successfully, Grant Anderson kicked intelligently and got the line moving well, particularly in the second half. As usual the back three had their moments all looking dangerous with ball in hand but there can be no argument with this week’s Edinburgh Gin Man of the Match. Step forward back row, centre and ace goal kicker Jack Steele. Well played, indeed.

With Stewart’s Melville, Preston Lodge and Dumfries all securing their own bonus point wins it’s still very much all to play for in the promotion race with GHK maintaining a 6-point advantage over Stew Mel, 12 points over PL with Dumfries a further 3 points back.

Needless to say, next week’s home game against Stewart’s Melville looms large. Whilst the two teams will remain in the same positions no matter the result, the points margin between them may shift significantly. Let’s make sure the home support is out in force to welcome our corduroy sporting friends from the capital!