February 12, 2017
GHKRFC v HILLHEAD JORDANHILL RFC 11 Feb 2017
After a three week break GHK made the shortest of eastwards journeys to do BT National League 2 battle with the Hills at that most pleasant of venues Hughenden. A well attended pre match lunch heard Mike Paterson point out just some of the differences in terms of clubs’ profiles in the last few years with sides like Marr heading for the summit and well known others heading south. President Mitchell welcomed a few returning ex-players and encouraged the colourfully attired HJ faithful to pitch in and support the club in much the same way as Messrs Fettes and Thow have thrown themselves in to the unglamorous chores at OA over the years. Two shining examples indeed!
The hosts have had a tough season and were much in need of a lift going in to the last third of the campaign. There were periods in the reverse fixture when they seriously pressured GHK and scored some fine tries of their own. The visitors would very much have to have their focus on winning the match today before any thoughts of bonus points etc come to mind.
The GHK line up showed a few changes and re-arrangements from earlier selections, but it did very much have the look of a side that would be more willing and able to throw the ball around provided the forwards could do the needful. Rory Cook, having looked lively on the right wing at West, was given another start this time at his more familiar number nine. Andrew Fleming, who has done the rounds of most positions behind the scrum this season, started at full back with the usual incumbent, Danny Campbell, forming one half of a potentially very lively centre partnership with Cammy Hughes. Ross Baillie made a welcome start in the back row where his pace around the park could be crucial in securing the vital link between forwards and backs.
A crisp day with a chill wind and a firm well presented pitch meant that conditions were at least dry if Baltic. GHK got the game started heading towards the clubhouse with the hosts having a decent breeze behind them. Despite a tidy start by the Hills, GHK claimed an early try when the ball was shipped left to right finding Rory Taylor in space. The winger took his chance well and it hinted of perhaps more to come. Straight from the restart Andy Fleming fashioned another break and GHK came close but the home defence held out.
Hills settled down and clean possession allowed scrum half Thomson to set his backs loose. Centres Busby and Halliday made significant inroads and let it be known that they needed to be tackled at source. The home middle and back row generated a bit of forward momentum and Hills looked threatening. However, the rhythm of both sides was seriously disrupted by an epidemic of penalty awards for which there seemed to be no remedy.
However, the confidence of the hosts was growing and with twenty five minutes gone left winger Jimmy Griffin was put clear and he finished confidently. All square at five a piece. Ten minutes later the winger doubled his tally gathering a neat grubber kick and touching down to the left of the posts. A missed conversion restricted the lead to five points. GHK rather looked as though they had settled for that and would be happy to take that score to half time and use the conditions to support their efforts in the second period.
The crowd gathered mainly on the stand side of the main pitch was on hypothermia alert as the second half commenced. There was still no great structure to the GHK performance and ground gained tended to be done so singlehandedly. Ross Baillie and Callum Kerr provided forward momentum. Andy Fleming made another decisive break down the left. Support in the shape of Danny Campbell was on hand and sealed the deal touching down for the fourth try of the day and GHK’s second. The conversion was added by DC giving the visitors a two point lead with most of the half remaining.
The flow of the game was still rather disjointed and the penalty-fest continued. Hill Jills added to their own woes by answering back referee Galashan once too often and a card followed removing one third of their effective back row for ten minutes. However, GHK could not/did not capitalise and when the offender returned no damage had been inflicted. The penalties went on….and on….and on. Nerves were starting to show on and off the park. Could GHK see it out? Would Hill/Jills gain their first win of the league campaign?
Fortunately the GHK midfield defence was secure and those two aforementioned centres were downed as required. Inevitably a penalty relieved the pressure. With about five minutes remaining GHK got in to a decent place deep in the home twenty two. Line out ball was secured and at last a few controlled drives turned the screw on the hosts’ defence. Ross Baillie powered on and was able to feed his hairstyle look-a-like buddy Callum Kerr who wrestled over for the clinching score. The conversion sprinkled salt on the home wounds.
Worse was to follow for those of a Hills persuasion as from the restart off set Cammy Hughes who burst through the midfield gaining significant yards before linking with that man Baillie who again adopted the ‘assist’ role, this time linking with Danny Campbell, who claimed another touchdown. The sprinkling of salt became a handful. GHK were on a roll and nearly added a fifth try from the last play of the game as sub Ruaridh Cameron made a stunning impact covering about sixty metres before being crowded out.
Final score GHK 24 Hillhead/Jordanhill 10
For seventy five minutes this was anyone’s game. That GHK managed to get over the line was due to their greater ability, eventually, to capitalise on a few good field positions and to defend securely against the home threat when it mattered most. That the GHK win was accompanied by a four try bonus point did add a certain element of highway robbery to the outcome. It seemed a most unlikely outcome for the bulk of the afternoon.
Well done to all at Hughenden for their efforts on and off the park. The club, despite a hard season in the league, looks to be in good-ish health and hopefully on-field fortunes will take an upturn, as they nearly did today. For GHK, the season is starting to take a bit of a toll on the squad in terms of injuries, so the group is being tested. The boys dug in and got there eventually today. It was certainly not a thing of beauty, but it was a welcome hard fought victory that might give that wee nudge that is required for the rest of the season. GHK player of the day – the assister in chief – Ross Baillie. We did tell you that being a forward is not easy. Well done sir.
Next week Whitecraigs at OA. Not many home games remaining so get down to Anniesland – you know you want to. And remember to book your place at the pre-match lunch!
Updated 07:44 - 12 Feb 2017 by Hugh Barrow