GHA 31 HAWICK 30
GHA welcomed the famous green shirts to the first league match at Braidholm this season. After the disappointment of last week’s defeat, the home side could not have been faced with a harder task than Hawick who themselves recorded a notable victory against Currie last week. With typical ingenuity Paolo Bardelli created a route to our perch in the still to be completed stand which allowed Dave Barnett our mc and this reporter to observe proceedings from on high.
Our President, Stuart Lang had in his pre match notes, highlighted the continuing improvements being carried out to the Braidholm estate. Thanks to our sponsors,JWF we now have duralock plastic fencing around the first xv pitch. This added to the JWF provision of sparkling new white goal posts adds to the ambience of the estate. Both sets of players went through their preparations and conditions were slightly overcast with a crosswind from the stand to the new 3G pitch. Our marvellous P1 and P2 Junior section members, resplendent in the junior kit provided a guard of honour for both sides. A minute’s silence was observed for Ronnie Jamieson who passed away recently.
GHA kicked off with a probing kick deep into the Hawick half, the visitors quickly dealt with this and cleared play up to half way. With just over a minute gone Hawick were awarded a penalty on halfway and the boot of Bailey Donaldson took play up to outside the GHA 22 metre area. Sam Frizzel took the lineout and with his pack drove straight into the home side’s territory. A powerful drive took the visitors deep into GHA territory. However the move broke down and Grant Mollison kicked long from possession won. Messrs Lonergan and Scott quickly moved to close down a riposte from the Hawick defence which just managed to clear the ball to their own twenty two metre line.
The home side were clearly intent from the start to attempt to close down Hawick at every opportunity and harass key players Donaldson and Welsh. Messrs Crilly and Macfarlane, as we moved into the fifth minute broke through the Greens defence with impressive support from the home forwards. Whilst the visitors stem med the attack they gave away a penalty . The home side kicked to the corner and were now inside the Hawick five metre line. It was to be a feature of this match that despite both sides at times being under huge pressure in their five metre areas.. Cool and calm execution of basics mostly saved a score. Hawick secured the ball from the lineout and bravely worked the ball to Bailey Donaldson whose boot cleared the immediate danger taking play up to the Hawick twenty two metre line. The ball broke loose and Hawick decided to run the ball back at GHA. Charlie Lonergan intercepted a pass and sprinted for the line as Rory MacFarlane rushed to his side. A brilliant tackle from the Hawick defence just stopped Charlie going over but in the ensuing desperate to and fro the referee decided that Rory MacFarlane had scored. Adam Scott whose kicking accuracy and superb overall play would have a huge say in the match outcome, converted to make the score after ten minutes; GHA 7 HAWICK 0.
Within a minute of the restart the visitors were awarded a penalty at the GHA ten metre line. KIrk Ford’s attempted conversion failed and GHA kicked long to the Hawick defence. The Greens took the game straight back to the home side, collecting the GHA restart kick and combining forward and backs moved the ball with pace as the home side looked to engage. Ruaridh Macleod and Jae LInton were involved in much of the Hawick support play throughout the match and were a constant thorn in the home side’s defence. In the general rucks which followed attempted incursions the ball was won and then lost by both sides before a further penalty was awarded to Hawick for failure to release. As we passed the fifteenth minute there was a lengthy pause to deal with injuries. There were several such stoppages in this match such was the attritional nature of the game however there was no discernible drop in concentration levels by any player at the resumption of play. AS we reached the twentieth minute Hawick enjoyed some pressure and the resolute dhome defence was being sorely tested. From the very effective rolling maul that Hawick used sparingly the visitors hammered at the GHA line. The referee awarded a penalty try to Hawick and yellow carded Jack Bruce and the score after twenty minutes was now: GHA 7 HAWICK 7.
From the start this had been an engrossing match with both sides determined to play attacking rugby and move after move by both sides involved passing and support moves involving most of each team. THis continued to make this a tremendously exciting encounter between two sides continually looking for ways to pierce excellent defences. For several minutes both sides attempted to break free and the ball moved from twenty two metre area to twenty two metre area as defences held strong. Every aspect of the game was keenly contested by both sides and play raged across and up and down the pitch. As we moved into the thirty minute mark, superb work by messrs Fox ,Kerr and McCarthy forced the visitors into mistakes in their twenty two metre area.
As the home side attempted to harass the visitors as the Greens tried to move the ball forward the ball went loose and a chance to capitalise on this pressure was lost as Hawick were awarded a penalty with an additional yardage awarded for a remark or similar made by the home side. Hawick took the opportunity to calm matters down and cleared the ball up to halfway. The minutes before half time produced some excellent breaks by both sides only to be stopped from reaching fruition by superb and timely tackling. Every breakdown resulted in both disciplined packs working hard to win and or recycle the ball. There were scares at both ends of the pitch with penalties allowing pressure to be diluted. However just as we thought we would reach the interval with no further scoring a brilliant tackle on Morgan Tait inside his twenty metre area as he attempted to deal with a kick through allowed the ball to go loose and Jamie MCarthy collected the ball and scored in the corner with great support from the home forwards ready to assist if required. From a very difficult angle Adam Scott sent the ball over to the delight of his team mates and the home support to make the half time score: GHA 14 HAWICK 7.
It had been a pulsating and engrossing first half with both sides intent on running the ball at every opportunity. Neither side could maintain a dominance in pressure and the match had swung from one side to the other. The second half was not to disappoint.
The Greens began the second half determined to overcome the blow of the late conceded try and equally the home side had no intention of backing down. The game would continue to provide some excellent defence personified by the missile like hits of Darrio Ewing , Tony Brogan Luca Bardelli and John Crilly amongst others. Hawick attacked from the restart and moved the ball with menace inside the GHA twenty two metre area.From a good attacking position the Hawick lineout went awry not for the first time as messrs Kerr and MCCarthy disrupted clean ball. GHA won the ball but ensuing pressure from Hawick saw them awarded two penalties which they kicked to take them to the home side twenty two metre area. A superb take and drive allowed Connor Sutherlandon the crash ball to thunder through the GHA defence brilliantly supported by Bailey Donaldson. The home side desperately attempted to thwart the visitors momentum but Sam Frizzel went through a cleverly engineered gap to score. This made the score after five minutes of the second half: GHA 14 HAWICK 12.
The conversion was missed and from the restart GHA moved into the Hawick half. Clearly the missed opportunity to level the score helped GHA to recover their composure and would begin to niggle away at confidence in Green kicker ranks. As we moved on to the seventh minute inside the Hawick half an inspired break by the electric Max MacFarlane tore through the shocked Hawick defence and despite a despairing attempt to pull his jersey back scored to the delight of the home support. Once again the steady and deadly accurate kick from Adam Scott converted the try and the score was now: GHA 21 HAWICK 12.
GHA players could take much from this cameo. They had conceded a try and yet had hit straight back at their opponents in a calm highly disciplined and determined manner. There was considerable animated comments amongst the home side to demand a unified and consistent approach to the remaining minutes of what was an intriguing encounter. Once again it was Hawick’s turn to take the game to the home side and as clearance and attacking kicks were exchanged there was no let-up in the pace or commitment of either side. With the tenth minute reached over eagerness in GHA ranks was punished by the award of a penalty to Hawick who from halfway took play up to inside the GHA twenty two. Despite the determined efforts of the home forward, Hawick secured the lineout ball and as the forwards feigned to drive quickly fed the ball wide to their eager backs. However the ever alert GHA rearguard read the move and closed down the Hawick attack. In a lovely bit of skill, the visitors recycled the ball and moved to the right hand side which allowed James Delaney to squeeze in at the corner. Hawick missed the conversion from a difficult angle and the score was no after nearly thirteen minutes : GHA 21 HAWICK 17.
The game was still there for both sides and the excitement amongst the supporters of both sides mounted with every break up or down the pitch. Hawick made a huge effort over the next few minutes and won several penalties from offences by GHA on the floor. THis allowed Hawick to gain ground and from one penalty in front of the posts inside the GHA Twenty two, Bailey Donaldson converted to make the score after about eighteen minutes of the half: GHA 21 HAWICK 20.
The wafer thin difference between the score reflected the closeness of the match. Every score conceded by either side was the result of hard work, considerable skill and sheer determination to succeed. True to the pattern of the match so far back came GHA not remotely affected by the closeness of the score and after several moves with the Hawick defence looking slightly harassed a penalty was awarded to GHA inside the Hawick twenty two metre area. The imperious Adam Scott converted the penalty to make the score after twenty two minutes: GHA 24 HAWICK 20.
Hawick were equally unperturbed by the loss of the penalty and from the restart looked to move the ball deep into the GHA half. Another penalty to Hawick was a disappointing outcome after some herculean tackling from the home side as Hawick looked to hammer a way through the GHA rearguard. The referee warned the home side about the penalty count Again the visitors calmly kicked to the corner putting huge pressure on the GHA lineout. The home side stole the initial lineout but the ball went loose with Hawick awarded a scrum. Another penalty was awarded to Hawick as the ball was moved out to the Hawick backs and Gareth WElsh took the penalty quickly to score . Sadly for Hawick the conversion was again missed and the score was now after twenty eight minutes : GHA 24 HAWICK 25.
This incredible match had but ten minutes remaining as a number of injuries meant that it was becoming nerve wracking for supporters trying to work out how much time was actually left ! As we passed the half hour mark Hawick regained possession and a clever kick to touch put GHA back in their own twenty two and gave Hawick a good attacking position. In a vital catch and drive, Hawick took the ball deep into GHA territory and drove the ball over the line to score. Yet again the conversion was missed and with about eight minutes to go the score was : GHA 24 HAWICK 30.
Despite what had been a strength sapping encounter and excellent rugby from both sides played at a hectic pace both sides continued to give their all.As we hovered around the forty minute mark with the injuries in the game creating additional time, GHA made inroads into the Hawick half. A scrum on the Hawick twenty two metre line resulted in a crisp ball for George Baird to speedily issue the ball into the arms of the GHA backs. Deft interpassing as Hawick desperately tried to close down space allowed the dancing feet of Adam Scott to score in the corner to a huge explosion of cheering from the home support. The try scorer calmly judged the angle and distance of the conversion before giving the home side a one point lead with a magnificent kick. THe score now in injury time was: GHA 31 HAWICK 30.
Incredibly the drama had one final scene to play out. Hawick en masse charged after the restart and despite the best efforts of the home side the referee awarded a penalty to the Greens for not releasing. The kick was well inside the GHA twenty two metre area and the home side and support could hardly bear to look. Sadly for Hawick the penalty was missed and to great outpourings of relief and joy the home side had won. Final score GHA 31 HAWICK 30.
This had been an outstanding rugby match full of good rugby, commitment and skill and determination from all the players. This performance must be the benchmark for GHA for the rest of the season.
HAWICK: K.FORD R.McKEAN L.GORDON-WOOLEY K.BRUNTON J.DELANEY B.DONALDSON G.WELSH R.MACLEOD C.SMITH S>FAIRBURN S.FRIZZEL C.SUTHERLAND J.LINTON C.RENWICK N.LITTLE D.LIGHTFOOT. M.TAIT
GHA : G.MOLLISON A. SCOTT C.LONERGAN M.MacFARLANE L.BARDELLI J.CRILLY R.MacFARLANE T.BROGAN G.HIDDLESTON M.FOX A.KERR J.McCARTHY W.GRAHAM D.EWING J.BRUCE E.CAVAN L.ARCHER M.MARINKOVIC G. BAIRD N.KELLY
REFEREE ; MR M TODD
ASSISTANT Mr B McGUFF