GHA 40 Aberdeen Grammar 21
Despite heavy rain throughout most of the week, an army of volunteers including, Presidents, Vice Presidents and former Presidents and the under 18’s manager worked tirelessly from early on Saturday to ensure Braidholm was playable for the match against Aberdeen. The pitch held up remarkably well and both teams following their inspection of the surface were prepared to attempt to play running rugby. It was a busy day at Braidholm with the Old Aloysian lunch taking place in the club house.Progress continues on the new 3G pitch with the new floodlights standing like sentinels on pitchside. Both teams prepared thoroughly in separate units before coming together to run team drills. GHA were determined to put last Saturday’s defeat at Kelso behind them and Aberdeen were equally determined to climb the league placings.
A healthy crowd saw Aberdeen kick off and immediately the home side gathered and drove at the opposition with a surge by Adam Kerr. Recycled ball allowed messrs Addison and Findlay to break through the Aberdeen defence and into the visitors twenty two metre area. GHA were recycling the ball quickly and using drives by Michael Scott and Luther Mavunga to put Aberdeen on the back foot. The visitors found themselves desperately defending on their five metre line but following a huge drive by GHA following a scrum, James Sutherland broke off the back of the scrum and went over to score. Murray Houston converted to make the score after three minutes: GHA 7 ABERDEEN 0.
The home side were intent on building on this early advantage but Aberdeen steadied the ship and indeed over the next few minutes attempted to exploit gaps in the home defence. The visitors began to ask questions of the home defence and in twelve minutes after consistent pressure Murray Mitchell cut through the GHA defence from just inside the GHA twenty two metre line to score. Perrott converted to make the score : GHA 7 ABERDEEN 7.
The home side immediately took the match to Aberdeen who found themselves driven back by a series of drives by Dario Ewing, Scott Carson and Ben Addison.Forward movement by GHA was stopped inside the Aberdeen ten metre area. Murray Houston seized on a gap in the visitors rearguard and weaved his way towards the line before being stopped short of the twenty two metre line. The ball was quickly recycled and James Sutherland running a lovely angle tore through the visitors defence to score. The try was converted and the score after sixteen minutes was GHA 14 ABERDEEN 7.
From the restart, Cameron King made an astonishing break which cut through the startled visiting defence . Aberdeen were penalised for an infringement and a huge kick took play up to well inside the Aberdeen twenty two metre area. A superb catch and drive from the lineout saw the home pack work together to move towards the line . This allowed Michael Scott to go over and score. The try was not converted and the score after twenty minutes was: GHA 19 ABERDEEN 7.
The visiting side regrouped , perhaps realising that the initiative was beginning to move towards GHA. Aberdeen began to vary their attemtps to pierce the home defence, using a combination of two men and three men drives with deft kicks behind the home defence for the onrushing Aberdeen backs. A beautifully weighted kick through by Sam Knudson was gathered by Chris Jollands who to great acclaim by his team mates went over to score. An excellent conversion from a difficult angle by Bryn Perrott made the score after twenty six minutes: GHA 19 ABERDEEN 14.
Despite difficult conditions both sides were attempting to play attacking rugby. The match was being played at a fast pace and despite a number of spilt passes mainly due to conditions both sides were displaying some good handling skills.There followed several minutes of attempted positional kicking by both sides with little advantage. Play began to stutter somewhat as both sides looked to press home an advantage which resulted in over ambitious passes and knock ons. As we reached the thirty third minute of the half a determined foray by the GHA backs led by Ross Findlay and Max MacFarlane took play up to inside the Aberdeen five metre area. Patient and well organised pressure from the GHA pack allowed Scott Carson to go over to score to huge cheers from the home support. The try was converted by Murray Houston and the score after thirty seven minutes was now: GHA 26 ABERDEEN 14.
As we reached the interval, conditions began to deteriorate with steady rain making the ball even more difficult to handle.
GHA kicked off the second half and went straight into attacking mode. The constant ball protection from the home forwards allowed progress to be made before shipping the ball out to the backs who were playing with increasing confidence and authority. Aberdeen were penalised for an infringement and Murray Houston with a clever kick took play up to the corner of the Aberdeen five metre line. Excellent execution of a lineout, not for the first time in recent matches allowed GHA to catch and drive to the line as the hapless visiting side tried desperately to hold back the GHA tide. However once again Michael Scott forced his way over an opponent’s line to score. A superb conversion by Murray Houston made the score after two minutes of the half GHA 33 ABERDEEN 14.
To their immense credit Aberdeen refused to accept this situation and began to play with more authority and succeeded in driving the home side back into their own half. This time GHA gave away a penalty which as the home side attempted to regather was quickly taken by Aberdeen and their forwards rolled towards the GHA try line. Despite home efforts to stop the momentum, Andrew Cook went over to score. Bryn Perrott converted to make the score after eleven minutes GHA 33 ABERDEEN 21.
Aberdeen redoubled their efforts and laid siege to the GHA line. For a full twelve minutes in which they were awarded six penalties and each time elected to scrum , the visitors attempted to use forward power to get over the line. Amidst mounting tension, the home side put in a Herculean effort to keep Aberdeen out. Aberdeen tried everything in their game plan to unlock a resilient and stubborn home defence. The visitors tried to throw the ball wide only to see their player engulfed by determined defenders. Eventually to huge cheers from the home support, the GHA side were awarded the put in which slightly eased the pressure on the home side as we reached the twenty sixth minute of the half. As we reached the half hour mark, GHA were awarded a penalty for illegal scrummaging which allowed the ball to be cleared up to the home sides ten metre line. After such intense pressure the relief amongst home supporters was palpable. However playing with renewed hope and determination Aberdeen attacked the home defence from midfield .
A further penalty award to the visitors allowed a huge kick to take play back to the GHA five metre line. The visitors aware that time was running out made huge efforts to breach . Despite fatigue setting in, the home side just managed to keep the visitors out. GHA managed to break out of this situation and a break by the hard working Adam Kerr forced Aberdeen on to the back foot before being stopped . Aberdeen frantically won the ball and began to once again move the ball through their backs. A brilliant interception by Ross McCorkindale saw him sprinting for the line pursued by the Aberdeen cover defence. Ross realised he couldn’t quite escape the clutches of Bryn Perrott and at the crucial moment made a sweet pass to the galloping James Edgar who was on his shoulder. To huge cheers and not a little relief from the home support, James shot over the line to score . The try was converted and the final score was GHA 40 ABERDEEN GRAMMAR FP 21.
It had been a pulsating match with two sides determined to run the ball at every opportunity. The home side had displayed considerable flair in exposing gaps in the visitors defence and the tightness of the forwards work and handling skills of the backs was impressive. The home side had to show remarkable resilience to withstand a prolonged onslaught by the visitors. Both sides had given everything in difficult conditions.
GHA: J.O’BRIEN, C.KING, R.FINDLAY, M.MacFARLANE, B.ADDISON, R.McCORKINDALE, M.HOUSTON, S.CARSON, M.SCOTT, S.FISHER J AULD, A.KERR, L.MAVUNGA, D.EWING, J.SUTHERLAND – Replacements: L.BARRON S.MULHOLLAND J.PLUMRIDGE, J.EDGAR, J.BAILLIE
SCORERS: T – SCOTT (2), SUTHERLAND (2), CARSON, EDGAR C – HOUSTON (5)
ABERDEEN: B.PERROTT c.RUXTON S.MILLS M.MITCHELL C.SHEPHERD S.KNUDSON C.WOOD C.REDDISH A.COOK M.SCHOSSER C.ROBERTSON E. STEWART A.DRAVITSKI C.JOLLANDS G.RYAN L.BUCHAN W.ALTON F.SELBIE A.OVENSTONE L.RONGONUI
SCORERS: T – COOK, JOLLANDS, MITCHELL C – PERROTT (3)
REFEREE: MR M TODD
ASSISTANT REFEREES: Mr B EVANS Mr M WILSON