Match Report vs GHK RFC | 6th October 2018
Whenever heading to Glasgow, regardless of the league that the opposition occupy, it always appears that there is a plethora of similar sounding teams – GHK, GHA … and maybe even GA, GH and GW. Not only that, but they all seem to be situated in the same location, OA or NA. Very confusing – I am beginning to wonder whether there is actually only one team under various guises! For the purposes of clarification, it was apparently Glasgow High Kelvinside RFC we were playing on Saturday and the venue was as noted above – OA. They really love their acronyms through there but I guess we like our monikers, too, so, when in Rome … yes, enough frivolity!
GHK have had a reasonable start to their campaign, really only losing to what appear to be the stronger teams, including Dumfries a week ago. As I have alluded to previously, there is no point in contemplating past results as they can be misleading. It is certainly a very difficult league to predict thus far, and, with, the top of the table clash also happening at the same time, the results made for interesting reading.
GHK are a competent outfit, having achieved promotion in 2016, and, when you factored in a fine Autumn day, a great venue and (unlike previous encounters this season) very little wind, a good game was anticipated. What more could you ask for? The perfect day! As always there were a few unavoidable changes due to availability and, regrettably, some casualties from last weekend.
With home advantage and support clearly in GHK’s favour, we kicked off deep into GHK territory to get things underway, a light south westerly breeze at our backs. Right from the start GHK showed their intent to run the ball rather than kicking for field position, however knock-ons on both sides and resulting scrums in the opening stages saw SM camped 5 metres out. Some good hands allowed GHK to progress to the halfway line, however, and, with a penalty coming their way, our hosts gained more territory.
Although GHK had started with the majority of possession, the ball was, at times, being thrown about like a hot potato to no avail. Once SM got their hands on the ball, however, the advantage was there as we opted to kick. Again GHK showed their intent with ball in hand but lost possession in the process. A scintillating break by full back Freddie Roddick then followed with good support from number 8 Ruaridh Stewart – he was everywhere today. Ruaridh found Adam Greig who powered over the line for the first try of the game, Michael Miller being successful with the conversion. Approximately 10 minutes played, GHK 0 SM 7.
At the restart Jack Somerville collected well and made significant progress, as he did for most of the 80 minutes. Despite GHK’s spritely start they appeared somewhat rattled, and, as a result, further territory was gained. Good scrummaging and breaks in the midfield saw SM pushing further into the GHK 22. A high tackle (one of several) on Michael resulted in a penalty, and quick hands from Fraser Strachan and Freddie played Sean Murchie in for the second try of the game. 20 minutes played, GHK 0 SM 12.
Whilst SM were beginning to find their rhythm, GHK were still attacking, but the final touch wasn’t going their way. A boot up the park by Fraser eased the pressure, but, again, GHK came back with gusto – only to lose possession in contact as they were being restrained in their own half.
The light breeze had perhaps increased marginally as the game progressed and probing kicks by Fraser put GHK under more pressure as he pulled the strings all afternoon. Another penalty eventually came for a high tackle in SM’s favour and Michael bagged the 3 points. With nearly 35 minutes played, the score was GHK 0 SM 15. A scrappy period ensued towards half time but this eventually gave SM the opportunity to attack again. Some good link play by the forwards (notably Matt Sanderson and Jamie Sword), with Adam again at hand, ended with Freddie breaking through for the try. Half time GHK 0 SM 22.
The second half started well as SM kept the high tempo going, Fraser being particularly instrumental in making breaks and finding support, cleverly utilising the space and width, and it was our 9 who found Sean for him to cross over for the fourth try of the afternoon and the bonus point. 55 minutes played, GHK 0 SM 27.
A period of SM dominance then prevailed, with backs and forwards combining well, Seb making breaks and taking the contact, ably supported by Willie Malcolm and Alex Wainwright. After utilising both sides of the pitch, we eventually found the space to allow SM’s number 14 in for another try, Seb being successful with the conversion. 65 minutes gone, GHK 0 SM 34.
At this stage there was only really going to be one outcome, however GHK (to their credit) never threw in the towel and kept pressing once in possession. Their forwards eventually gained momentum after a run of good phases and drove over, the conversion from a difficult angle being successful. A consolation try, perhaps – but a try, nonetheless. GHK 7 SM 34. This certainly seemed to spark GHK in the final passages of play, but, despite putting SM under pressure, this was soaked up and the tables were turned once more, another period of quick and impressive hands seeing Willie Malcolm touch down. GHK 7 SM 39 with approximately 10 minutes to go.
The bulk of the possession was now with SM, and, again the high tempo of quick hands and good support play saw Jack getting his just desserts, breaking through for the final score of the game. The successful conversion made the score at full time GHK 7 SM 46.
I think SM could have been even more clinical towards the end, and, if they had focused on the successful game plan rather than the understandable, individualistic ‘have a go time’, more tries would have undoubtedly come our way. Perhaps something worth thinking about in the closing stages of more competitive encounters!
Seven tries and a bonus point on the road – almost the perfect day, it doesn’t often get much better than that! Whilst I frequently make mention of individual performances, credit must go to Cash and Jingles. Having watched this team, starting with their cup success against Carrick, it is clear to see that there is a structure and game plan in place which appears to be taking shape.
The half back ‘quartet’ again delivered. Michael was composed and in control at 10 and Freddie clearly enjoyed his outing at 15. It must be refreshing to see all that space in front of him rather than being chased down by an aggressive back row. Fraser showcased his far from one dimensional playing style, with quick hands, sharp breaks and his aerial bombardment – all of which paid dividends. Charlie was his usual lively self and illustrated his versatility. Jack worked tirelessly down the wing and deserved his try. Adam continued where he had left off last Saturday, smashing through the opposition, and the number 14 did what he was supposed to do – score tries!
It is perhaps easer to praise the threequarters, particularly having been one myself, but credit must also go to the forwards to a man, including, of course, Kyle and Denis off the bench. Their aggression in open play was impressive, and, again, they combined well as a unit, keeping the ball alive. Even in the absence of the heavyweights, Thor and Momo (haste ye back), they stuck well to the task in the set piece despite being up against a larger pack.
It was refreshing to see the team as a whole capitalising on opposition mistakes; in particular, Alex, Willie and Ruaridh were all over the opposition like a rash.
A tough encounter awaits on Saturday against PRFC. Feet … ground and so on – see you at Invers!
Match photo c/o Libby Blakeman / OGBlakeman Photos