GHA 41 Hamilton 31
A beautiful day, perfect for running rugby greeted all arriving at Braidholm. Matches between these two sides have been high scoring affairs in recent seasons and today was to prove no different. Hamilton arrived in determined mood, knowing only a victory would help them in their battle against relegation. GHA for their part, following their victory at Gala wanted to finish the season on a high as the club looks forward to the new league set up. It was a busy club house with the GHA Ladies Charity Lunch and a good contingent of Hamilton members swelling the ranks of the home support. Both teams had the unusual and welcome opportunity to prepare in a warm sunshine as they went through drills and moves.
GHA kicked off and immediately the visitors ran the ball back at the home side before clearing the ball up to halfway. From the lineout Michael Scott, made a huge break through the startled ranks of the Hamilton defence . His surge ably supported by the excellent Jamie MCCarthy took play up to the Hamilton ten metre area. Quick recycled ball saw the ball passed out to Ross Findlay who went over in the corner. With a minute gone the score was: GHA 5 HAMILTON 0. A difficult conversion was just missed by Ross Findlay.
GHA sensed that they had taken a huge psychological advantage from this early strike and set about mounting further attacks. However Hamilton tried desperately to establish a foothold in the match with a great break through the middle of the pitch which was stopped by the home defence at the GHA five metre line. The home side broke from the restart with incursions by messrs Barnett, Gillman and Purewal. Andy Gillman, playing in his one hundred and fiftieth match for GHA would continually drive the home side forward all afternoon and gave the Hamilton defence no respite. After six minutes a lovely passing interchange by GHA swept through the visitors defence to allow Andrew Gillman to score. An excellent conversion by Ross FIndlay made the score : GHA 12 HAMILTON 0.
The home side sensed that their opponents were at this stage struggling to hold back the home side. Drives by messrs Mollison and Purewal and Addison forced Hamilton on to the back foot inside their half. The home side were mixing their attacks with forwards and backs combining to stretch the hapless visiting defence. Ben Addison was proving very difficult to stop and his scalding pace gave his side territorial advantage inside the Hamilton half of the pitch. As we reached the fifteenth minute GHA were playing with a confidence and synergy that Hamilton were struggling to cope with. The home side were awarded a penalty on the Hamilton five metre line and Michael Fox took the opportunity to charge through Hamilton ranks to score. Another superb conversion by Ross Findlay took the score to : GHA 19 HAMILTON 0.
As the home side recovered the restart kick, Grant Mollison sped through the Hamilton defence to great appreciation from the home support before feeding Cameron King who went over to score. The conversion was missed and the score after twenty two minutes was : GHA 24 HAMILTON 0.
There was a look of despair about the visitors as Tom Decelle attempted to rally his troops. In a rare venture into the GHA half, Josh White took play into the GHA half before a knock on meant the move broke down. George Baird, chipped the ball through the onrushing ranks of the visitors and the ball was only cleared at the Hamilton five metre line. A feature of this season has been the excellent line out work of messrs Kerr and McCarthy. The ball was secured and a lovely swung pass out to Grant Mollison allowed him to find time and space to play Ben Addison in to score. Ross Findlay once again converted and the score after twenty nine minutes was: GHA 31 HAMILTON 0.
Hamilton despite their situation refused to collapse and kept trying to get on the front foot. Several forays into the home half required resolute defensive tackling to prevent further inroads. After thirty seven minutes Hamilton at last broke through. The catalyst was Tom Decelle who launched his backs into space in the GHA rearguard and a lovely and incisive passing movement allowed Jack Bruce to score to great roars from his beleagured team mates. The conversion was missed and the score was now; GHA 31 HAMILTON 5.
Suddenly there was belief in the Hamilton ranks and a startled GHA rearguard were caught out when Gregor Brodie burst through from halfway to outstrip the home defence to score. The conversion was successful and the score as we reached half time was: GHA 312 HAMILTON 12.
It had been a superlative performance by the GHA side for much of the first half. Hamilton to their credit refused to panic or crumble and indeed looked a different side once they put points on the board. A very animated team discussion in Hamilton ranks at half time suggested an exciting second half in prospect. Hamilton seemed a yard sharper and more accurate in all they did as the second half got under way. After five minutes the home side were desperately scrambling to cut down Hamilton progress as they intercepted a loose pass and drove for the line. However the home side regained control of the ball and Adam Kerr made a break inside the Hamilton midfield which meant play swung back to the Hamilton twenty two metre area. Hamilton cleared the danger and with growing assurance, moved the ball through hands to leave the home defence standing and allow Iain Crush to score. After seven minutes the score was now GHA 31 HAMILTON 17.
The conversion failed. The Hamilton support quite rightly roared their side on to greater efforts and suddenly the home side found players running at them from all angles. The visitors were employing Chris Mclaughlin and Darren carr to take the ball into the centre of the GHA defence before carefully recycling to their backs who increasingly had effective forward support over the gain line. Despite desperate defence deep inside their own half, GHA could not stop Stephen Turnbull breaking through to score after fifteen minutes. A successful conversion now made the score: GHA 31 HAMILTON 24.
The home side had in no way slackened off their approach to the match but seemed to have become wrong footed at times by a side which had become totally transformed. However as they have done all season the home side quietly regrouped and found that inner resolve which has been a vital ingredient in a successful season. Precise forward work allowed GHA to force the visitors deep into their own half and Adam Kerr made a drive for the line only to be held up. From the resulting scrum quick release allowed Grant Mollison to enter into the line at the crucial moment and he went over to score. The conversion just failed and the score after twenty five minutes of pulsating action was : GHA 36 HAMILTON 24.
The match was now totally holding everyone’s attention as it was once again living up to the high scoring format of previous fixture between these two sides. A great break by Ghijseppu Dupuis with James Buchan in support took play up to half way. Both these players were making their debuts in this match and were immediately in the thick of the action. A spun ball was superbly caught by Scott Carson to a roar of appreciation from the home support and without breaking stride Scott carried the ball into the Hamilton twenty two metre area before being stopped. With time the enemy, Hamilton who had won possession spread the ball wide and in a sublime passing move cut through the home defence to allow Ethan Aitken to score to wild celebrations amongst the visiting support. The try was converted and now after thirty two minutes the score was incredibly: GHA 36 HAMILTON 31 .
Hamilton realised that they were on the cusp of a vital victory if they could break down the home defence once more. GHA had decidedly different ideas and worked their way methodically into the Hamilton half. A fantastic opportunity from a well worked move to allow Aaron Purewal to play the ball inside to a team mate was prevented by desperate Hamilton smother tackles. However GHA were awarded a penalty and George Baird calmly kicked towards the corner. Whilst Hamilton cleared the immediate danger from the lineout a fantastic break by Ben Addison took a huge effort to prevent him from running from outside the Hamilton twenty two metre area to score. He was stopped on the five metre line. The home side managed to recycle the ball and as he has done all season captain Michael Scott led by example and went over to score as we went into additional time. The conversion was missed and the match ended : GHA 41 HAMILTON 31.
Once again a match between these two sides had produced a thrilling encounter with some lovely tries score by both sides. GHA can now look forward to the delights and challenges of the new league format.
Hamilton were taken aback by the early onslaught from the home side but their superb recovery suggests that they will soon be enjoying happier days. All at Braidholm acknowledge the tremendous efforts and commitment of the squad and their coaches to reach this position.
HAMILTON C. SKILLING B.PLANT E.AITKEN M.WALLACE A.SINCLAIR T.DECELLE, H. CRUSH, S.LEGGATE D.McGRATH G.RICHARDSON C.INGLIS J.BRUCE G.BRODIE R.BROWN S.ALEXANDER – SUBS: D.CARR C.McLAUGHLIN, J. WHITE, S.TURNBULL R.McQUEEN
GHA : G.MOLLISON A.PUREWAL R.FINDLAY C.KING B.ADDISON A.GILLMAN G.BAIRD T.BROGAN M.SCOTT M.FOX A,BARNETT
J.McCARTHY A.KERR D.EWING F.FAULDS – SUBS: S.FISHER S.CARSON J.BUCHAN G.DUPUIS J.BAILLIE
REFEREE : MR M MILNER
ASSISTANTS :MR T FRENCH MR A PARRY