GHK v Dumfries Saints 2nd December 2017
GHK resumed league business after the autumn break, during which time they had performed admirably in disposing of Biggar in the cup, with a trip to one of the in form sides in the league namely Dumfries Saints. The south west team were promoted from National 3 last season and the momentum generated in that successful campaign appeared to have been sustained in the higher division.
To the traditional fairly direct and forward orientated effort, the hosts have added a fine offloading game involving all fifteen. Coach Rudi Urbach, who hails from Durban, has moulded a side that play open, expansive rugby that is of the non stop variety, in many ways similar to the brand that GHK try to deliver. The only surprise was that, after a breathless opening quarter of an hour, the only scores on the board were an exchange of penalties and we were still try-less.
Dumfries had the edge in territory and at that stage seemed to perhaps the more likely to break the try duck. However, the GHK tackling was pretty sound and the line was never really threatened in a scoring sense. However, a couple of home penalties kept the board ticking over and a six point advantage was probably a fair reflection on possession and territory.
GHK had gained a clear dominance in the scrum and whether it was the home put in or GHK ball, the set piece was looking very tasty for the Glasgow boys. You could sense the unease of the Dumfries eight as a number of scrums coughed up good ball for GHK and the pendulum seemed to be swinging their way. Having said that, there was no question of the hosts being completely subdued and when another sweeping attack broke down, scrum half Hugo Anderson was sent to the bench for a ten minute rest having been adjudged guilty of a deliberate knock on.
Dumfries returned the offending compliment when winger Steele joined Hugo on the naughty step for one too many unnecessary comments to the referee. With both down to fourteen, GHK tried to break out of midfield but when a pass went to ground, Dumfries hacked on and were in under the posts for the first score. The conversion followed to take the lead to 16-3.
The GHK response was instant. From a great restart chased down by Tony Lopez, Dumfries were unable to clear their lines and were pinned deep in their twenty two. A GHK line out was taken well and a dynamic powerful drive saw Andrew McCulloch forced over for a well worked score. 16-8 to the hosts.
It was still end to end stuff and, with almost the last play of the half, an unhelpful bounce of the ball from a GHK point of view got the hosts out of jail as Robin Coates followed up his own chip ahead and was foiled with the line in sight. Half time 16 -8 to Dumfries.
GHK opened the second half with real intent and that man Danny Campbell was prominent in attacking efforts, ably assisted by centre colleague Cammy Hughes. The home defence was stretched as GHK kept the phases going and when the ball was moved right to left Campbell went over in the corner. The extra two pints were added by the man himself by way of a fine conversion. Back to a one point game.
A knock on from the restart gave possession to Dumfries and it was their turn to apply some pressure. After a few phases of play they could smell the GHK line and despite the best efforts of the visitors the try was claimed. The GHK impetus was dented further with an injury to Mark Smyth and the enforced rearrangements diluted the scrum dominance that had been a very significant advantage to the OA side.
A further Dumfries try stretched the lead and it did rather look as though the home side were in control. A penalty took the lead to 33 -15 with about twenty to go. An injury to Alex McGuire saw further disruption to the GHK forward effort and we were now in the realms of unopposed scrums. The enforced changes undoubtedly disrupted the GHK effort but the force was with Dumfries and it was no great surprise when the fourth bonus try was claimed.
Back came GHK and after a prolonged period of pressure deep in to Dumfries territory, the home defence became a bit too desperate and a penalty try was awarded to GHK. That was the last act of an entertaining game but unfortunately one which saw the Glasgow side head back up the M74 empty handed.
Well done Dumfries. It is easy to see why they are featuring at the top end of the league. The cup tie between the sides on 10 February in Glasgow should be a cracker.
A decent effort by GHK but the injuries took their toll and impacted on the game that GHK were trying to play. The Dumfries head coach picked out Ross Steven as our man of the match for his influence at the breakdown. That will do for me too (and yon coach bloke is about seven feet tall so you’d be daft to argue with him).
Next week West at Old Anniesland. On Saturday West lost quite heavily to Biggar. GHK beat Biggar a couple of weeks ago. Today, as we know, GHK lost to Dumfries. West beat Dumfries a while back. What will happen next Saturday, who knows?
Kick off 2.00
Updated 17:57 - 4 Dec 2017 by Hugh Barrow