GHA 23 Hamilton 16
Hamilton arrived at Braidholm determined to achieve a victory to help the club to move from the lower reaches of the league. Conditions under foot were soft but could hold a stud. By kick off time the morning drizzle had ceased and in fact gave way to an outbreak of wintry sun. A difficult cross wind blew across the pitch and towards the clubhouse, a wind that would grow in intensity and wind chill factor over the course of the afternoon. However compared to conditions last week at Coupar… Braidholm was positively balmy!
Both sides prepared carefully. Hamilton during a lengthy preparation spent a considerable time rehearsing restarts with the emphasis on regaining possession from a tap back from the restart kick. This ploy was successfully used on a number of occasions during the match. The visitors also drilled relentlessly on front and middle line out throwing deceptions. GHA prepared with open play scenarios and ball retention routines. A large expectant crowd filled the stand and surrounds on a busy day at Braidholm. The famous Gazelles entertained near neighbours Whitecraigs and there was also the well attended pre match lunch. The Junior section provided a flag waving ensemble to greet the players onto the pitch. Hamilton kicked off with O.McLeish attempting to replicate the move they had been practising pre match. However GHA retained possession. In an astonishing move Peter Jericevich began a passing move which cut through the visitors defence. A well timed pass by Ross Findlay allowed Andrew Goudie to score under the posts. Andrew converted his own try to make the score after just over one minute : GHA 7 HAMILTON 0.
Hamilton restarted the match and gathered from the restart. A promising move by the visitors ended with a knock on. The whole match was to be punctuated by knock ons and spilled passes which created a stop start effect and robbed both sides of the ability to execute attacks.GHA were awarded a penalty on their own twenty two metre line following a scrummage infringement and the GHA scrum half kicked up to the half way line. Following another knock on by the visitors, Peter Jericevich from the base of the scrum tore through the inside channel beyond his startled opponent and supported by Ross Findlay and Andrew Goudie drew A. Wilson into no man’s land before passing to Andrew Goudie who scored under the posts and converted his own try to make the score after five minutes: GHA 14 HAMILTON 0.
Such a sensational start would have broken many a team and should perhaps have filled the home side with the confidence to establish total command of the match. Hamilton had no intention in accepting such a scenario and quickly began to settle. Adam Kerr on his home debut made a break from the loose but was contained and a scrum was awarded to the visitors. Hamilton guided by E Whelan ran a promising move at the home defence and their efforts resulted in a penalty being awarded just outside the home twenty two for not releasing. O McLeish gave Hamilton a toe hold in the match with a good conversion to make the score after twelve minutes: GHA 14 HAMILTON 3 .
Messrs Whelan and McLeish directed traffic for the visitors varying their passing to involve M. Colville and R. Butcher in bursts through on the crash ball before recycling to their ever eager backs to run at the home defence. Hamilton put huge pressure on the home defence which had to work very hard to hold the visitors on the home five metre line. On the fifteenth minute, GHA managed to turn over a crucial Hamilton scrum but the relieving kick was immediately run back at the home side with M Colville breaking. Hamilton were awarded a penalty for not releasing and O McLeish kicked to the corner to great cheers from the visiting support. GHA stole the lineout and Peter Jericevich scrambled the ball up to the twenty two metre line. Almost immediately Hamilton were awarded another penalty and the visitors, perhaps sensing an opportunity elected to take a scrum. The home side survived this ploy and Andrew Goudie brought some momentary relief by hacking the ball up to the ten metre line after intense pressure from the visitors. Hamilton returned to their task and S. Alexander who put in a mountain of work tried to break through the home ranks with R. Butcher in support. Another incisive passing movement broke down for Hamilton with a knock on on the home five metre line. There began to develop from this stage a tendency by both sides to miss passes and drop the ball at crucial times. Indeed a spilled pass with Hamilton looking to score from inside the five metre area by B. Plant was a break for the home side. Hamilton maintained the pressure on the home side who found difficulty in clearing the ball out of their twenty two metre area. Had Hamilton not indulged in over elaborate mis moves which went awry they may well have reduced the leeway despite the dogged home defence. Hamilton won a scrum against the head inside the home twenty two metre area and in the ensuing distribution Craig Inglis scored and McLeish converted. Thus after thirty minutes the score was : GHA 14 HAMILTON 10.
The ten minutes before the interval saw GHA regain their composure and challenge Hamilton for dominance. Both sides created enterprising breaks only to have scoring hopes dashed by inaccurate passing, knock ons or even accidental offsides. In the last few minutes of the half GHA were awarded a penalty for offside just inside the visitors twenty two metre area. Andrew Goudie converted the penalty in front of the posts to make the score on the thirty seventh minute: GHA 17 HAMILTON 10.
The home support hoped that this additional score would allow the home side to regain the standard of play they had displayed with devastating effect in the very early stages. However such was the nature of this match that the home side immediately gave away a penalty to the visitors for not releasing at the breakdown. McLeish reduced the deficit in the thirty eighth minute to : GHA 17 HAMILTON 13. This was the score at half time in what had been a very frustrating half for both sides. There seemed to be a general anxiety amongst the players on both sides that resulted in rash passing and poor handling which meant the game was constantly stopping and starting amidst mounting frustration at moves breaking down.
GHA began the second half with a well driven attack into the visitors half. The home side were awarded a penalty for a scrummage infringement on the Hamilton twenty two metre line and Andrew Goudie converted to make the score after two minutes of the half: GHA 20 HAMILTON 13.
Within two minutes of this penalty , Hamilton were awarded a penalty which was converted to make the score : GHA 20 HAMILTON 16. Hamilton continued to build possession from forward drives and quick recycling which the home side defended superbly to prevent Hamilton further reducing the leeway. Play moved across the pitch as both defences negated the space and opportunity to break. After a flurry of forward activity by the home side , the visitors were penalised for not releasing the ball on the ten metre line. Andrew Goudie who managed to retain his usual calmness and concentration struck the penalty through the posts to increase after seven minutes the GHA lead to : GHA 23 HAMILTON 16.
Whilst this gave the home side a seven point advantage, there was no evidence of either side establishing any meaningful dominance of the match. GHA made several changes in their back line composition. Jack Preston slotted in at scrum half with Peter Jericevich moving to the stand off berth and Andrew Goudie to the inside centre berth. Hamilton continued to vary their approach with short passes to an onrushing forward epitomised by the powerful D.McGrath or mispasses or long passes to the outside centre. Despite all of these initiatives the home defence stood firm. After ten minutes with play becoming more ragged and untidy, Hamilton were awarded a penalty for not releasing inside the home half. The normal sure footed O.McLeish missed the conversion . Despite this GHA had to continue to defend resolutely and capitalise on the break when they secured possession. Both sets of forwards were desperate to control the ball in the loose to allow their backs to set up options but such was the forward battle that neither pack could establish momentum. In the twentieth minute in a well orchestrated move by the home side Michael Scott found himself in the wing position and forced the visiting winger to defend desperately. Despite this Hamilton continued to look for a way through the home defence. Another penalty to the visitors saw the kick being put close to the corner and heroic tackling was required epitomised by a try saving tackle by Grant Mollison to quell the efforts of the visitors. A certain frustration began to creep into the efforts of the visitors and some ill judged speculative passes reduced the pressure on the home side whose determination not to concede was growing as the half wore on. THe home side were able to furnish several well crafted breaks out of their own half which reduced the pressure on their defence and forced Hamilton on to the back foot. The match finished at this score: GHA 23 HAMILTON 16.
There were no wild celebrations from the home side who with fortitude and courage had seen the game out. After a dazzling opening salvo from the home side, Hamilton roared back into the game but due to the tenacity of the home defence the visitors could not find that dominance to allow them to win the match. Certainly this was a hard fought victory for the home side and a crushing disappointment for the visitors. GHA have much to thank the cool headedness and skill of Andrew Goudie for this victory.
GHA 2nd XV defeated Aberdeenshire 104-0.
GHA U18s defeated Whitecraigs 31-14.
GHA Gazelles defeated Whitecraigs 36-5.
GHA: G. MOLLISON, E. GREER, B. ADDISON, R. FINDLAY, A.SPOWART, A. GOUDIE, P. JERICEVICH, T. BROGAN, S. USUDA, M. SCOTT, A.BARNETT, A. KERR, S. PLUMRIDGE, R. ANGUS G. MACDONALD – Reserves: G. CAMPBELL, C. BRAID, J. AULD, M. RYAN, J. PRESTON
Scorers: T – Goudie (2) C – Goudie (2) P – Goudie (3)
Hamilton: A. WILSON, B. PLANT. C. INGLIS. M. WALLACE. J.HOWATSON. O.MCLEISH. E. WHELAN. C. McLAUGHLIN. G. RICHARDSON. M. MARTIN. R.BUTCHER. M.COLVILLE. S. ALEXANDER. R. BROWN. J. SELFRIDGE – Reserves: D. McGRATH. T. MALLEY. J. WHITE. L. BELL. C.SKILLING
Scorers: T – Inglis C – McLeish P – McLeish (3)