GHA 34 Selkirk 10
Dreadful downpours greeted all arriving at Braidholm for this match. The rain before the match began was relentless and coupled with a cold wind made conditions miserable. In the torrential rain Iain Abraham as ever was found manfully dressing the posts with the post covers another embodiment of the volunteer spirit so vital to the success of any rugby club. An increased attendance was pleasing at the sponsors match day lunch as we as a rugby community begin to return to our normal Saturday behaviour. Such was the dreadful weather that both teams delayed their preparation until nearer kick off time and when they did take the field wasted no time in going through a rigorous team orientated series of drills.
Both teams were desperate to win this match. GHA have played well in all their matches to date yet have failed to match performances with league points. Selkirk who have had two matches cancelled are also keen to get their season going forward.
Just as the match began the rain relented and throughout the match there were even short periods of sunshine. The cessation of rain lasted for most of the match and allowed both sides to play attacking rugby despite the slippery surface. GHA kicked off and Callum Anderson collected the ball and kicked it straight down the pitch where Grant Mollison (whose positional awareness was to consistently blunt kicking initiatives from the visitors ) fed the home back line who took the ball into engagement before a scrum was given at half way. The home side with a combination of front five power and an alert back row made a clean heel for the visitors difficult but Callum Anderson as he did for a great deal of the match kicked long upfield where Sean Carden took the ball into contact before a penalty to the visitors was awarded for an infringement in the loose. With just over two minutes gone Selkirk’s attempt to kick the penalty failed and with the ball still live, the Braidholm side were delighted to clear the ball up to halfway.
A feature of the GHA play this season has been the superb line out attack on opposition ball with Adam Kerr and Jamie McCarthy with assists from others winning or disrupting key line out ball. Once again the home side won the ball and Luke McCutcheon drove into the visiting defence with close support from his fellow forwards. Attempts to chip through by GHA were thwarted by Jack Hamilton who gathered the ball and took play up to the GHA ten metre line. There then followed a couple of minutes of kicks being exchanged by half backs and full backs as both sides sought to force the game into the other half of the field. After five minutes Selkirk put together a promising attack inside the GHA half and were awarded a penalty for a high tackle. Once again the visitors opted to attempt to kick the goal and missed. As the game continued a further flurry of speculative kicks through were exchanged by both sides before another penalty was awarded to Selkirk at the GHA ten metre line. Once again the visitors opted to attempt to kick the goal and again missed. THus after nearly eight minutes the home side had survived the possibility of falling nine points behind. This knowledge seemed to have a greater detrimental effect on Selkirk than the home side. As we moved past the first ten minutes there was another fruitless exchange of kicks by each side before Selkirk in the form of messrs NIchol and Brown supported each other in a break which carried them into the GHA ten metre area. Selkirk were awarded a penalty and this time Scott Clark with a superb kick converted to make the score after twelve minutes: GHA 0 SELKIRK 3.
Neither side had been able to assert themselves in their opponents half mainly due to a kicking fever which affected both sides and resolute defensive tackling when players threatened to break through. From the restart a long kick took the home side deep into Selkirk territory . A penalty award to GHA allowed the home side to engineer a position inside the Selkirk five metre area. A great catch and drive allowed the ball to be released( having sucked in a desperate Selkirk pack) to the GHA backs where a lightning move by the home side saw Max MacFarlane burst through the Selkirk defence to score. The try was converted and after fifteen minutes the score was now: GHA 7 Selkirk 3.
There was an almost percetible charge of energy and confidence through the home side ranks. Animated conversations amongst the Braidholm side suggested that they were determined to build on this breakthrough. From the restart Luke McCutcheon once again skillfully gathered the kick and moved into contact at halfway. The home side quickly recycled and a clever break by Grant Mollison and the power and pace of Scott Derrick carved a route through the struggling Selkirk cover defence . Scott when stopped managed to release the ball to messrs McCarhty and Fox who continued the move however in a hectic minute or two Selkirk managed to win a turn over and cleared the danger.
As we moved beyond the twenty minute mark, GHA were beginning to put together some penetrating moves crafted by excellent interplay between forward and backs which were forcing Selkirk to defend, often on the backfoot. The home side were also very quick to engage the visitors attempts to run the ball which forced the visitors to kick for relief rather than move the ball through hands. There was some lovely skillful interplay between messrs MacKinnon, Macfarlane Derrick and Carden which not only gained ground but clearly worried the Selkirk rearguard. Tony Brogan and Gregor Hiddleston took every opportunity to tidy loose ball and present a further problem for the Selkirk defence. As we reached the twenty fifth minute a further interchange of passing between messrs Derrick and MacKinnon tore through the Selkirk defence before ensuring the ball was kept safe in contact which allowed George Baird to burst through the startled Selkirk back line to score . This score brought a warm response from the home support as it was a fitting end to some really slick play by the home side. Jamie MacKinnon made a good conversion to make the score after twenty six minutes: GHA 14 Sekirk 3.
From the restart kick, Luke Mcutcheon again gathered the ball and as he went into contact the home side was awarded a penalty. A raking kick by Max MacFarlane took play up to the Selkirk twenty two. However this time Selkirk were awarded a penalty which they returned with interest to the GHA twenty two. However, as confidence oozed through Braidholm ranks, the ball was run by the home side as Selkirk were wrongfooted and raced to cover the break as the GHA side forced the visitors deep into their own half. However a penalty award to Selkirk blunted the GHA initiative and allowed the sore pressed Selkirk defence an opportunity to regroup. Selkirk as we moved past the half hour mark were desperate to gain possession and to stop the GHA attacks and indeed to build their own attacks at the GHA defence. However GHA were determined to force the visitors back and despite brave defensive tackling and attempts to drive at the GHA defence when Selkirk had possession, the home side continued to run the ball at Selkirk with good interpassing and formidable support. Key issues were the abilities to ensure that the GHA ball carrier did not allow himself to become isolated and the calm decision making which resulted in the point of attack when stymied being altered to put further pressure on the Selkirk side. In such a move a determined attack by messrs Mollison, MacKinnon and the ever alert and involved Charlie Lonergan switched play back to Will Alton who spread the ball to Adam Kerr involving Walker Graham and Charlie Lonergan in a bewildering series of mix and match pases which confused the Selkirk retreating defence and allowed Max MacFarlane in a clever feint to wrong foot the despairing Selkirk defence to score. Thus after thirty seven minutes the score was with the try converted : GHA 21 SELKIRK 3.
To their credit Selkirk came back at the home side from the restart and attempted to move past halfway. However the half ended with the tigerish home defence negating any progress by the visitors. It had been an impressive first half from the home side. Calm calculated passing, considerable individual and collective skills and execution of the basics of rugby football had given the home side a commanding position at the interval.
The interval gave Selkirk the opportunity to regroup and plan their own way back into the match. They reentered the field in determined mood. With the weather still improving , the second half began with both sides attempting to establish dominance. Several minutes of midfield drives and the ball going loose resulted in a penalty to Selkirk which was promptly propelled deep into the GHA half to great appreciation from the Selkirk support. Selkirk tried hard to build on this territorial gain and the very hard working Thomas Brown and Luke Pettie took the ball into contact and clearly the visitors were asking questions of the home side. In seven minutes following a breakdown Selkirk gained a scrum inside the GHA twenty two metre line. The home side managed to win a penalty at this moment and thought they had overcome this pressure with a relieving kick only to find that the Selkirk rearguard were intent in running the ball straight back at the home side. Callum Turnbull chipped through into a dangerous space but Grant Mollison scooped the ball up and thumped the ball up to his own ten metre line.
Selkirk were not thwarted by this set back and readied themselves for a further onslaught at the GHA defences. Several attempts to chip over the onrushing home defence by Selkirk centres were scrambled away by GHA and one break with ball in hand was instantly stopped with a thumping tackle by MIchael Fox. Selkirk continued to probe and look to find space behind the GHA rearguard and were varying their approach inside the home half with a combination of deft kicks and forward drives. As we moved into the tenth minute of the half it was Selkirk who were forcing the pace and whilst making some inroads found the GHA defence difficult to overcome. Several critical lineouts were lost by Selkirk and the disappointment in dark blue ranks was evident as prized territorial possession was lost to the home side. Strong defence by GHA was blunting the Selkirk attack but the Border side continued to apply pressure and had several passes gone to hand at vital moments then they could have made serious inroads to the scoreboard. Despite the pressure, the home side continued to work away at the basics and calmly deal with persistent dangers. Messrs Anderson and Nixon were causing problems for the home side with their breaks , subtle floated kicks and good support play. As we reached the fifteenth minute Luke McCutcheon was yellow carded for a late tackle. Selkirk ran the ball but lost possession to the home side and the ball was cleared up to the GHA twenty two metre area. In a midfield breakdown Adam Kerr seized on a loose ball and almost immediately the home pack was beside him carefully recycling the ball and allowing the ball to move inside the Selkirk twenty two metre area. Clever hands and good vision presented an opportunity for Max MacFarlane to bamboozle the visiting rearguard and to go through to score past a confused Selkirk back division. THus the score after twenty minutes was GHA 26 Selkirk 3.
The conversion was missed. Selkirk had put a great deal into the first twenty minutes of the half and were clearly disappointed to see their efforts gain no reward and indeed the home side with excellent responses to opportunities to go further ahead. Just as we moved to the twenty fifth minute of the half a huge altercation broke out amongst both sets of players. The referee consulted his assistant and decided that messrs Mollison and his opposite number Jack Hamilton should be yellow carded. A penalty decision was reversed and Selkirk from inside the GHA twenty two metre area kicked to the corner. The stoppage seemed to affect the home side s concentration for the moment and from the lineout Selkirk took the ball and drove through to score in the corner. A super conversion by Scott Clark made the score after twenty three minutes of the half: GHA 26 SELKIRK 10.
From the restart the home side kicked deep, as Selkirk moved the ball forward the contact moment resulted in a penalty to GHA at the Selkirk ten metre area. The penalty was converted and the score was now: GHA 29 SELKIRK 10.
This penalty seemed to take some of the drive out of a hard working Selkirk side and perhaps restored the complete confidence of the home side. The rest of the half saw Selkirk bravely attempting to break through the GHA defence and the home side continue to attempt to win the ball in contact and set piece to set up quality ball for their eager backs. Messrs Graham and Alton and Hiddleston put in a power of work at the engagement line to prevent Selkirk possession throughout the match. As we moved towards the conclusion, GHA mounted one final thrust into tiring opponents and a mazy run by Ruairi O’Keefe totally caught out the Selkirk cover and Erik Cavan took a lovely pass from Ruairi to leave the remaining SEekirk players flat footed to go over and score. The conversion was missed and the final score wass: GHA 34 SELKIRK 10.
It had been an absorbing match. The power, pace and collective energy of the home side especially in the first half proved too much on the day for the visitors. The home side has played well in all their matches this season but know only too well that there are hard matches ahead and to give four kickable penalties away early on will need to be avoided in future matches.
SELKIRK: J.HAMILTON F.ANDERSON B.PICKLES A.GRANT-SUTTIE C.YOUNG C.ANDERSON S.CLARK L.PETTIE J.BETTB.RIDDELL T.BROWN A.COCHRANE A.McCOLM A.COCHRANE A.McCOLM S.McCLYMONT D.NICHOL C.TURNBULL J.ANDERSON M.HALDANE R.NIXON
GHA: G.MOLLISON S.DERRICK C.LONERGAN M.MacFARLANE S.CADDEN J.MacKINNON G.BAIRD T.BROGAN g.HIDDLESTON M.FOX A.KERR J.McCARTHY W.ALTON W.GRAHAM L.McCUTCHEON E.CAVAN M.MARINKOVIC R.MACFARLANE R.O’KEEFE
REFEREE : MR R MABON
ASSISTANTS : MR L FISH MR A WATT