GHK V Kirkcaldy 11 March 2017
Before the kick off a minute’s silence was observed in memory of a former player and captain of the Fife side who had died in lead up to Saturday’s match. The players then proceeded to pay their own tribute by serving up a fine game of rugby, played in great spirit, with some excellent tries and a good deal of quality all round.
GHK have made it their policy to get things going quite quickly, particularly in games at OA. Despite some early Kirkcaldy forward drives, it was the adventure shown by the home backs that gained yards and threatened the Kirkcaldy twenty two. When that pace was allied to some powerful forward intrusions GHK made the breakthrough. Firstly, it was a trade mark Callum Kerr blast that made the space for Marc Taylor to dot down for try number one. Moments later it was Mark Smyth’s turn to do the driving work and the gap provided for Andy Fleming was enough for the full back to cross for the second score.
It looked bleak for Kirkcaldy as Danny Campbell made a cracking break looking to put Marc Taylor clear but somehow the chance was lost. That seemed to galvanise the visitors and eventually their forward platform produced some good ball and their backs demonstrated that they could make inroads. A very kickable penalty opportunity was missed by stand off Letham, but they kept the pressure on GHK with a series of five metre scrums providing a good platform for attacking options. When Mike Martin decided to assist his pack by playing the ball before it had emerged from the base of the advancing Kirkcaldy scrum, the yellow card that followed for the home number ten could not really be challenged. However, the depleted GHK defence dug in and managed to hold out with an epic Andy Fleming tackle perhaps being the highlight of that Alamo style defensive effort.
Half time – GHK 12 Kirkcaldy 0
It was the visitors’ turn to come flying out of the blocks at the start of the second period and within four minutes a kick to the corner, followed by a line out catch and drive led to a series of drives and finally a sniping break by scrum half Mackenzie saw him over in the corner. Stand off Letham added the extra points from a conversion that was much more challenging than the penalty chance he had spurned. The home lead was down to five points.
GHK had to quell the Fife resurgence and thankfully for the OA support the response was rapid and effective. The ever lively Danny Campbell made serious yards and Jez Hanks was held up close. It was Kirkcaldy’s turn for some stalwart defence. However, that man Campbell ran a cracking angle off an attacking scrum and was home and dry before the potential tacklers got themselves sorted.
Back came Kirkcaldy and the two second rows, Harper and Mitchell, combined to put the latter over for a second try which was again converted by stand off Letham. Back to a five point game with more than twenty minutes to go. The to and fro continued as GHK bounced straight back and assaulted the opposition line. Gordi Reid went very close after some remarkable handling at pace and from the ensuing tackle breakdown on the Kirkcaldy line Gregor Hollerin went over the top touching down for the fourth OA score of the day.
The Fife efforts were further hampered when one of their very effective centres had to leave the field with a blood injury which, if you were to mark the amount of the red stuff on a scale of one to ten, was certainly an eight and maybe even a nine. Thankfully there was suitable support on hand to deal with the situation.
Mike Martin added the fifth home try with what was very much an individual effort. He had put in a good shift and the score was a well earned reward. GHK replacements McGuire, Leggat and Long entered the fray, joining the fourth home sub, Ruaridh Cameron, who had taken the place of Rory Cook mid way through the half.
Both sides kept at it as the game closed out. GHK carried more threat in the last quarter and it was Mike Aird who brought the curtain down on the scoring with a typical scrum half finish after a few drives to the line were held up. Final score GHK 36 Kirkcaldy 14
Another good game of rugby with loads of action contributed to by both teams who looked to play on the front foot at all times. It must have been a difficult match for the men from Fife but they did themselves and their club proud. For GHK it was a good victory against a side that looks a whole lot better than their league position might suggest.
A fine forward effort by the GHK eight against a side that had given them a powerful challenge, particularly in the scrum, in Kirkcaldy earlier in the league campaign. Mark Smyth put in a great eighty minutes as did fellow prop Gregor Hollerin. Callum Kerr carried to and engaged the opposition all afternoon. In the backs the Michaels, Aird and Martin, prompted and pushed. Try of the month man Cammy Hughes was a danger with ball in hand as well as facing down the challenge of two lively Kirkcaldy centres. A close call for man of the match for GHK, but for a super effort in attack and defence, Andy Fleming gets the badge.
Next GHK fixture away to Preston Lodge 25 March, final home league match v Biggar April 1st.
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Updated 14:35 - 12 Mar 2017 by Hugh Barrow