GHA 10 Hawick 24
A variety of factors were influential in creating a very busy clubhouse at Braidholm on Saturday. The rearranged fixture with Hawick was a big attraction as was the Christmas lunch featuring an appearance by Santa and of course another edition of Bob Auld’s superb Play Your Cards Right! The Programme notes which had disappeared in the morning were rescued by the timely intervention of Kate with her willing helper Keith, furnishing an excellent missive for the crowd. Both sides arrived having recently recorded some notable results with the visitors in particular in a rich vein of form. Adding spice to the quest for points was the fact that the winner were it to be the home side would retain possession of the imposing Bill McLaren Shield or should the visitors triumph then the Shield would be heading to its spiritual home at full time.
Both sides as always prepared thoroughly making a point of becoming familiar with a heavy surface after days of rain. An overcast day with little wind greeted the players as they went through their drills and routines. The very impressive GHA unbeaten under 18 squad with a number of the excellent Junior section provided a guard of honour as the teams entered the pitch. This cameo reminded club members and visitors alike of the tremendous hard work and dedication from coaches and players in the under 18, under15 and Junior sections that takes place throughout the year at Braidholm. A minute’s silence allowed all to remember and honour the memory of Selkirk president Gus Boag who passed away recently.
The home side appeared in a stylish new home jersey which contrasted with the rather faded usual shorts.
The Greens kicked off with a long testing kick which was gathered by the home side which was then cleared. The first few minutes saw both sides assessing the opposition with both sides taking the ball into contact and sending probing kicks behind defences. Michael Fox from the off was determined to blast a way through the opposition midfield defence ably assisted by messrs McCarthy, Brogan and Barnett. In response Matty Carryer with acolytes Fairbairn and Rowley reciprocated in kind for the visitors. Both half-back partnerships throughout the match would continually change the direction of play and introduce feints and sleight of hand to attempt to wrong-foot their opponents. In one such move from halfway Aaron Purewal made a huge break which sent alarm bells ringing in the Green ranks until he was stopped by a timely tackle from the capable Kirk Ford on the visitors five-metre line. However, with calmness and well-rehearsed play, Hawick cleared the immediate danger up to their twenty two metre line. An excellent lineout take from Adam Barnett after seven minutes inside the Hawick ten metre area allowed him to break the Hawick line of defence.
In desperate attempts to stop further progress, Hawick were penalised and Jamie MacKinnon converted to the delight of the home support to put GHA in the lead. The score after nine minutes was: GHA 3 HAWICK 0.
The visitors applied themselves immediately to preventing the home side building a greater advantage from their coordinated and spirited play. Several scrums on the GHA twenty two metre area gave the visitors an attacking platform and Shaun Fairbairn found a way through the home defence to make yardage. Hawick were awarded a penalty and Kirk Ford kicked towards the corner flag as the visiting support roared their appreciation. The Greens drove from the lineout and an astonishing piece of defence with the ball over the GHA line saw the ball plucked into the hands of the home defence who cleared the danger up to their twenty two metre line. A look of incredulity appeared on Hawick faces matched by a look of relief on the faces of GHA players. However as we moved towards the fifteenth minute mark, Hawick began to pressurise the home side inside their own twenty two metre area. Once again a penalty was awarded to Hawick for an infringement and again Kirk Ford put the ball inside the home side’s five-metre area for a line out. The accurate throw from Marry Carryer was taken in and the visitors drove hard for the GHA line. With the home pack stretching every sinew to prevent Hawick progress, Matty Carryer went over after a clever switch pass had wrong footed the home defence. The conversion failed and the score after fifteen minutes was: GHA 3 HAWICK 5.
Hawick were determined to build on this slight lead and worked hard to make progress from midfield with the forwards working as a tight unit. GHA were penalised for infringing and again the ball was kicked into touch to give the visitors an attacking position just outside the GHA twenty two metre area. Despite continued efforts by Hawick, the home side with accurate tackling were preventing the various moves and feints of Hawick orchestrated mainly by messrs Weir and Fairbairn inflicting further damage on the home side. As we moved into the second quarter the match remained close and even with the occasional break by a forward being stopped by very alert backs on either side. Play tended, as a result, to move between the two twenty two metre areas. However, there were some inspired breaks from Michael Fox, Jamie MacCarthy, Adam Barnett and Adam Kerr with some clever switching and feinting by Andrew Gillman and Jamie MacKinnon which made yardage but could not make a clean break through a resolute Green defence. As we moved into the last ten minutes of the half, the combinations from messrs McCallum,Hughes Purewal and Craig were asking serious questions of the Hawick centre defence. However, as the home side seemed to making real progress with the ball inside the Hawick five metre area another penalty to the visitors allowed them the opportunity to regroup and clear the danger. That final moment of concentration at critical moments seemed to be missing from some excellent GHA attacking play. As we moved towards the interval there was some lovely clever interplay from the GHA backline which caused alarm in Green ranks and led to desperate defence inside their own twenty two metre area. Just as this period of pressure was causing concern in Green ranks the visitors broke through the home defence on the GHA ten metre area and only scrambled defence prevented Logan Gordon-Woolley creating a score for the visitors. The half time whistle signalled the end of an exciting half with the game finely balanced at; GHA 3 HAWICK 5.
The second half began with both sides clearly intent on achieving territorial dominance to unleash a variety of ploys to find a way through defences which had blunted most attacks until this point. Hawick began to utilise their set piece skills to put pressure on the home pack. After two minutes of the half a clever combination of work between Green forwards and backs caught out the home defence and allowed the lively Logan Gordon-Woolley to go through and score. Ali Weir narrowly missed the conversion from a long way out and the score was now; GHA 3 HAWICK 10.
The home side immediately attacked the Hawick side and there was a marked increase in the speed of engagement from the GHA backs which forced the visitors to hurry their clearance. GHA were forcing Hawick to play from their twenty two metre area and as we moved toward the tenth minute mark, an attempted clearance by the visitors was gathered by Jordan Craig who ran the ball with support back at the Hawick defence. With some clever switch play between messrs Fox, MacCarthy and Barnett, the home side moved menacingly into the visitors twenty two metre area. Shifting the ball out to the backs a kick through by the GHA backs with a very good chance of scoring was brought to a halt by a high tackle from Kirk Ford which earned him a yellow card. From the resulting penalty, a lovely passing move totally threw the visitors and allowed Robbie McCallum to dive over to great cheers from the home support. Jamie Mackinnon converted and the score after ten minutes of the half was now: GHA 10 HAWICK 10.
Hawick seemed taken aback by this turn of events and actually put the ball straight out of play from the restart. As the minutes wore on, the Greens gradually recovered their composure but still had to cope with a GHA side that was giving their all to try and take the lead. A smashing break by messrs Barnett and Craig took them well into the Hawick half with support arriving only for them to be penalised for crossing and a penalty being awarded to Hawick. As we moved towards the final quarter with the match evenly contested it seemed that the side which could maintain their concentration and composure would take the victory. Hawick began to embark on a determined attempt to wear down the home side with set-piece power, kick and chase and deep diagonal kicks behind the home defence. This resulted in the home side having to spend time in their own half and relying on breaks to relieve the pressure from the visitors. Accurate execution of kick throughs and chips into space and indeed line kicking at this stage by the home side would have alleviated the pressure but a variety of efforts by GHA to make territory fell agonisingly short and allowed Hawick to return to the attack. In the twenty fifth minute after some bruising forward work the visitors managed to prise the ball away from GHA clutches and allow Andrew Mitchell to take a pass and score in the corner. An excellent conversion made the score: GHA 10 HAWICK 17.
Despite this set back GHA refused to concede that the victory was beyond them and there were several minutes of cut and thrust between two totally committed sides with the ball going from one twenty two metre area to the other. As we moved to the last ten minutes with the match still in the balance, Hawick attempted to increase the pace of their work and apply ever more pressure on the home side who attempted to match every stride of the visitors. With the light beginning to fade slightly all eyes were on this intriguing match. As the home side managed to break clear from their twenty two metre area they were penalised for an infringement which allowed Hawick to mount an attack from a good position inside the GHA twenty two metre area. Hawick kicked to the corner and drove from the resulting lineout take, desperate defence from the home side was negated by a penalty award on full time to the visitors. The Borderers went for a lineout catch and drive and as the forty minutes passed Milan Marinkovic was yellow carded inside the five-metre area. Hawick elected to scrum and as they moved forward they were awarded a penalty try to wild celebrations from all Hawick supporters as this guaranteed them the bonus point. That was the last play of the match which ended.: GHA 10 HAWICK 24.There was deep disappointment amongst the Braidholm side. They had matched their opponents for most of the game and would perhaps look back at several opportunities which had been missed after excellent lead up work and the number of penalties conceded at crucial moments. However, there is no doubting the effort and quality in GHA ranks which continues to manifest itself in this highly competitive level of rugby.
GHA: A.LAMB, J.CRAIG, A.HUGHES, R.MCCALLUM, A.PUREWAL, J.MACKINNON, A.GILLMAN, T.BROGAN, D.EWING, M.FOX, A.BARNETT, J.MCCARTHY (c), A.KERR, E.HARDIE, L.MCCUTCHEON – Replacements: K.CHERNICK, S.FISHER, M.MARINKOVIC, G.BAIRD, C.KING
SCORERS: T – MCCALLUM C – MACKINNON P – MACKINNON
HAWICK: K.FORD, L.FERGUSON, W.GRIEBENOW, A.MITCHELL, L.GORDON-WOOLEY, A.WEIR, G.WELSH, S.MUIR, M.CARRYER, D. JOHNSTONE, J.ROWLEY, D.SUDDON, J.LINTON, S.GRAHAM, S.FAIRBAIRN – Replacements: C.RENWICK, R.MACLEOD, B.MCNEIL, B.DONALDSON, R.McKEAN
SCORERS: T – CARRYER, GORDON-WOOLEY, MITCHELL, PENALTY C – WEIR, PENALTY
REFEREE : MR G ORMISTON
ASSISTANT REFEREES : MR A PARRIE MR G REID
Photo: Colin Robinson