Biggar Ain’t Better

GHA 2nd XV 45 – 10 Biggar 2nd XV

After a win by the GHA 1XV away to Biggar last weekend, it was up to the 2XV to
show the clubs strength against the borders team at Braidholm yesterday. Both
teams are in a good position in the Premier 2 reserves league and it was sure to
be a competitive match in which the victor would be sitting second in the league.

GHA got off to a shaky start with Biggar pressing hard in the forwards and
putting their heavier pack to good use, after some early let off’s and close
escapes GHA managed to avoid conceding in the opening minutes. Then just
before the 10 minute mark a skilfully timed interception and try from Miller
Greaves on his own 22m line brought a sigh of relief from the Braidholm crowd,
Greaves converted his try and GHA’s early nerves were settled.

Not long after GHA struck again, just a quarter of an hour gone Scott Carson the rock at
centretook the ball up on a powerful run, eventually tackled by a scrambling defence
the ball was quickly recycled by the forwards, passed through a series of quick
hands to Chris Landsburgh who dived in down the right wing for a well worked
try. Greaves failed to convert, leaving GHA 12-0 ahead. Soon again GHA were on
the attack again and in the 21st minute Captain Stuart Keenan broke on the half
way line and fed the ball to Ben Farrell, who although playing in the forwards
was able to use his blistering place to tear a hole in the Biggar defence. Farrell
broke down the left wing and after the retreating defence managed to catch
up with him he fed Andrew Rushforth who secured GHA’s third try of the day.
This time Greaves converted and the Braidholm crowd roared as the ball flew
between the sticks.

It was a dream start for GHA but Assistant coach Kenny Fairbain was stressing
the importance of keeping the pressure on, a problem which has plagued the 2XV
in recent seasons. As predicted by the GHA veteran the teams guard dropped as
Biggar raised their game and in the 23rd minute a missed tackle led to their first
unconverted try. Both sides spent the rest of the first half battling for another score
and at time’s either team could have conceded. In the last minute of the half however,
the GHA defence crumbled again. Biggar, had a well timed kick through the defence
which led to a penalty, this was taken quickly and the Borders team went crashing
over the line for their second score.

With GHA’s lead becoming even more narrow and the tension onthe touch line at an all
time high, the half time whistle moments later brought great relief for the players, and
the fan’s who were deafened by Assistant Coach Fairbairn’s cries for a higher work rate.

Half time GHA 19 Biggar 10

After a fierce half time team talk from Head Coach Jim McCormick GHA knew
they would have to play harder to finish the next forty minutes still in front. The
next team to put points on the board would be in control of the match. Greaves

kicked the restart and Biggar ran the ball straight into the chasing forwards. The
GHA line stood firm however and after a fantastic turn over from the back row
GHA were on the attack again. A confident David Stoddart won a GHA lineout on
the 22m line then the subsequent plays drove the team up to the Biggar 5m line.
Johnny Leitch then powered over the line with a pick and drive supported by
Jason Clark. The conversion by Greaves put GHA 16 points ahead and certainly
relaxed the boys. Still on the rampage and with the words from the coaching
team, who this week included injured player Brandon Wamberg, ringing in their
ears it took GHA just 10 minutes to cruise over the line again. Substitute Iain
Nelson took a quick free kick and ran the ball straight at the Biggar pack, the ball
was secured and fed to Stuart Keenan who glided over the try line down the right
hand side and Greaves with the wind behind him, sent the resulting conversion
flying through the posts. The restart by Biggar was scooped from the air
by “Mitch” the new signing from Australia he was later crowned man of the
match by the coaches. GHA applied more pressure and although the Biggar
defence stood up for another 12 minutes the pressure eventually turned to
points through the pace of Dominic Santi who collected from a kick through the
defending line. Without the points from the conversion the score was now 38-10.
The Biggar defence had still not recovered from it’s previous slip up and 2
minutes later Scott Carson added his share of points to the board. It came from a
kick ahead by Stuart Keenan and after Carson used his pace to beat the
surrounding defenders he gracefully flopped down on the ball to secure the final
score from GHA. Greaves finished as he started and converted, while Carson was
substituted in case the excitement of scoring became too much for him. The game
became fairly flat after Carson’s exit as with GHA 45-10 up there was little for
either side to play for. However physical the match was, it ended with great
spirits from both teams and men from Biggar were gracious in defeat.

After the game the coaching team led by Head man McCormick spoke of the
team’s spirit and way they have bonded as a team during the last few games.
The team were set a challenge and the coaching staff were proud of the way they
raised their game in the second half. Coach Fairbairn finished by saying “I take
my hand off to you”. As a player/coach/reporter of the game for many years
now I can safely say I’ve never heard such praise given to a team by any coach,
especially an assistant coach, and I don’t think I will throughout the rest of my
career.

Johnny Leitch

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