Early Fireworks at Braidholm as GHA hold out for victory

GHA 43, Aberdeen Grammar 40

Aberdeen arrived at Braidholm on arguably the busiest club day of the year. Preparations for the annual Fireworks Display and Sponsors Dinner went on a pace as Aberdeen went through their prematch preparations on a sunny dry though very cold day. With little wind and a firm surface under foot supporters looked forward to an interesting tussle between two sides with a mixed performance record so far this season. Few if any present would have envisaged a match which exploded into life and provided eighty three points!Following a brisk workout GHA Junior section welcomed both sides on  to the pitch.

GHA kicked off and Aberdeen were quickly into their stride running the ball at inside centre to test the solidity of the home defence. After three minutes GHA  gave notice that they had worked hard on their scrummaging after last weeks shortcomings by matching Aberdeen in the first scrum of the day on the home sides twenty metre area. GHA were awarded a penalty which Peter Jericevich moved quickly only for play to be stopped to award another penalty to GHA due to an Aberdonian offside. Peter Jericevich rifled a long kick to touch on the visitors twenty metre line, effectively clearing danger for the home side and setting up a promising attacking position.GHA began to pass the ball through the backs forcing Aberdeen to defend . After five minutes a superbly accurate long pass from Andrew Goudie was gratefully received by Grant Mollison coming  on  to the wing berth and the full back went over to make the score: GHA 5pts ABERDEEN 0 pts.

Peter Jericevich form an acute angle converted to make the score GHA 7pts ABERDEEN 0pts.  The home side turned the ball over in the loose and a kick through was stopped on the Aberdeen five metre line by some desperate defending. Aberdeen full back Doug Russell cleared the danger with an excellent kick up to half way. The game was going from end to end and in the ninth minute a mazy run by Calum Ruxton penetrated the home initial  defence  before being halted and the danger cleared. Aberdeen were starting to employ their bulkier forwards to attempt to breach the home defence through the mid field area. Clever sniping by visiting scrum half Jake Gray caught the home side off guard and the ball was slipped to the wing for a score. After around fourteen minutes the score was: GHA 7pts ABERDEEN 7pts.

The additional two points had been added by Sam Knudsen’s conversion. Aberdeen seemed heartened by this breakthrough and attacked the home side with renewed vigour. In fifteen minutes Peter Jericevich showed his own sniping skills by a lovely break off the set piece and had James Edgar been able to hold the pass inside the visitor’s twenty metre zone then the home side could have edged ahead. However minutes later Peter Jericevich showing great invention placed a well timed mis pass to Ben Addison who accepted the pass at pace and in a deadly line of attack went through the despairing visitor ranks to score amidst great roars of appreciation from the large crowd. Peter Jericevich converted the try to make the score after seventeen minutes: GHA 14pts ABERDEEN 7pts.

Whilst the manner of the execution of this score clearly shook the visitors they kept calm and took the game to GHA. There was  a pattern of sorts beginning to emerge. The side in possession of the ball would  continually attack through the backs with forwards in support causing the other side to defend . The match was being played at a fast pace and both sides constantly looked for avenues of attack. There were strong breaks into the Aberdeen half by messrs Brogan, Barnett, MacDonald and Usuda. In the twenty second minute Andrew Goudie’s kick was charged down and the ball was hacked forward deep into the home half. Desperate attempts to tidy and clear the danger failed when the referee awarded a penalty for an infringement in the loose to Aberdeen . The visitors took the penalty quickly and Tom Aplin  evaded tackles to score to the right of the posts. Sam Knudsen converted the try and the score now stood at: GHA 14pts ABERDEEN 14pts.

Both sides in their eagerness  to establish control of the match were guilty of making errors, knock ons, slipped passes, missed passes
. In the twenty fifth minute, this overeagerness resulted in a penalty being awarded from inside the visitors half for offside. Peter Jericevich converted the penalty to make the score : GHA 17pts ABERDEEN 14pts.

Aberdeen hoisted a high kick into the GHA half where on receipt of the ball Grant Mollison began a weaving line through the Aberdeen defence. With great support from backs and forwards , the home side moved the ball menacingly towards the Aberdeen try line  where with considerable artistry Andrew Goudie pulled the remaining Aberdeen defence totally out of line before passing to Ben Addison who flew over to score. Peter Jericevich converted the try to make the score after twenty eight minutes: GHA 24pts ABERDEEN 14pts.

The home side were playing with confidence and a penalty award for a high tackle on GHA player allowed the home side to move into the visitors twenty metre area. An excellent break by Andrew Spowart was just stopped by the visitors . The speed of engagement by the GHA backs  and the effective engagement in the loose by GHA forwards meant that Aberdeen were attempting to run with ragged possession resulting in the ball sometimes not going to hand. GHA won the ball in the loose well inside the visitors half and Fergus Haig with a subtle feint which sent two defenders the wrong way broke through to score . Peter Jericevich added the conversion which meant that on the thirty fifth minute of play the score was :GHA 31pts ABERDEEN 14pts. Despite further breaks by Seitaro Usuda and Grant MacDonald  the score remained the same as half time was reached.

Half time allowed spectators to draw breath after some hectic and exciting rugby. As GHA’s Primary 7 went through their paces on the pitch, GHA supporters reflecting on the first forty minutes were pleased that the home side had shown great appetite to win the ball in the loose, to hold their own in the set piece and to run the ball with elan. Aberdeen supporters had voiced concerns before the match that impressive starts in matches had led to a falling away  towards the last twenty minutes and several winning positions had been surrendered. However despite being behind there was a whole half to play and they could still take the game to GHA. A glance at the animated huddled ranks of Aberdeen players did not suggest that Aberdeen were going to concede defeat lightly. Within one minute of the restart Aberdeen laid down the challenge to GHA with a superb move which involved most of the visitors supporting the ball carrier and passing accurately to create an overlap which allowed Calum Ruxton to score. Whilst the conversion was missed the score was now:GHA 31pts ABERDEEN 19pts.

This score seemed to transform the visitors who quickened their pace, ensured passes went to hand and hit the contact points with renewed belief. After five minutes of sustained pressure and a huge defensive effort by GHA , Aberdeen broke through to score under the posts to roars of delight from the travelling party. Sam Knudsen converted Calum Ruxton’s try to make the score after only five minutes of the second period: GHA 31pts ABERDEEN 26pts.

The next five minutes saw a clearly startled GHA regain their composure to a certain extent and several breaks by Andrew Goudie and Grant Macdonald gained yardage for the home side. GHA were now operating with Murray Houston at scrum half and Peter Jericevich at stand off with Andrew Goudie ghosting at inside and outside centre. The established understanding at the pivotal points of half back had thus to be reconstructed and Aberdeen were quick to look to exploit the changes. After fifteen minutes of attacking back and forth from both sides, Aberdeen were penalised in their own half for offside. Uncharacteristically Peter Jericevich narrowly missed the chance to put GHA further ahead and to quell Aberdeen ambitions. The twentieth minute saw a further number of changes to the GHA line up and playing positions with Andrew Goudie moving back to stand off. As the match moved into the final quarter there was a clear determination from Aberdeen players that there would be no supposed folding in this match. Grant MacDonald broke powerfully from the back of a scrum and as the ball was passed out to supporting players the referee awarded a penalty to GHA for a high tackle . Peter Jericevich kicked into the corner and despite frantic attempts to score by the home side, Aberdeen cleared the danger up to half way. The home side continued to apply pressure and in a devastating move involving a number of players, GHA passed the ball through numerous hands before Grant MacDonald, whose contribution to the match was immense went over to score. There was no conversion and the score at thirty one minutes was now: GHA 36pts ABERDEEN 26pts.

Far from fading Aberdeen came straight back at GHA  and easily broke the GHA defence to score and convert to wild celebration amongst visitor ranks. The score was now: GHA 36pts ABERDEEN 33pts.

It was Aberdeen who suddenly had a spring in their step and clearly felt that they could win this match. Despite the narrowness of the gap between the sides both teams elected to continue running the ball at every opportunity. Whilst the pace of the match had in no way slackened, the pressure was on both sides to limit mistakes in the last minutes of the match. In yet another break, Grant MacDonald burst into the visitors half before releasing Charlie Lonergan to go over .Peter Jericevich converted as we moved towards the end of time and the score was :GHA 43pts ABERDEEN 33pts.

With time being added on for injuries, Aberdeen intensified their efforts and scored with the try converted. The score was now :GHA 43pts ABERDEEN 40pts. Seconds later this incredible match finished. Both sides were cheered from the pitch for producing an explosive display of attacking rugby on Guy Fawks day!

GHA : G.MOLLISON J.EDGAR B.ADDISON R.FINDLAY A.SPOWART A.GOUDIE P.JERICEVICH T.BROGAN S.USUDA M.SCOTT J.AULD A.BARNETT F.HAIG W.GRAHAM G.MacDONALD
Reserves: D. EWING C.BRAID P.HARKINS M.HOUSTON C.LONERGAN

Scorers: T – Addison (2), Haig, Lonergan, MacDonald, Mollison C – Jericevich (5) P – Jericevich

ABERDEEN: D.RUSSELL G.WALKER K.McFARLANE T.APLIN C.RUXTON S.KNUDSEN J.GRAY R.ELLINSON A.McLEOD C.PRENTICE  A. ROBERTSON M.McCALL C.BREW C.HOWARD C.CHAMPION

Reserves: M. COX  F. SELBIE D. WALLEN A.OVENSTONE C.LAVERY

Scorers: T – Champion (2), Ruxton (2), Aplin, McCall C – Knudson (5)

REFEREE: MR L FISS
ASSISTANT REFEREES: MS M HAY  MR A PARRY

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