Match Report for Saturday 30th March 2019

Accies RFC v GHK RFC

“A typical local derby – great club rivalry”

‘Today was a wonderful advert for club rugby’

We were all lucky today to be present when two clubs came together in what is one of the oldest rivalries in Scottish rugby. We were also lucky to be watching in some great spring sunshine and the players playing on a pitch that would have done credit to an International venue – I do not exaggerate. Thanks to all who produced this at the end of a season!

The game kicked off at 3.00pm and before most of us had drawn breath, let alone taken their seats, Accies were on the attack. GHK attempted to clear the pressure with a clearance kick, the ball was collected by Accies outstanding winger Kris Mathie and deciding that the direct line was the best option he set off and aimed his run directly between the two defenders who were following up the kick.  They thought they had caught him but, like a salmon not quite on the hook, Kris broke free and raced towards the line. The cover defence came racing over to stop him but a simple offload to the supporting PJ Rankin he watched as the wing forward cross for the first try. As Gregor Macewen stepped up to take the conversion, one of Accies stalwart supporters asked this reporter ‘what happened, was it a good try?’ Yes it was!

Gregor’s conversion successful      7 – 0

This has always been a game that neither side will ever lie down and for the next 78 minutes so it proved to be today. GHK came back at Accies with everything they had, they were carrying the ball with speed and commitment and putting Accies defence under pressure. Their backs were running hard and testing the Accies backline. However the one area of the game that Accies had supremacy was the scrum. Throughout the game the GHK backs could never be confident they would be able to run off their own scrum put in.

However after a couple of penalties GHK found themselves inside Accies 22. A lineout 10 metres outside Accies line was controlled very well by the GHK pack and after two rumbles their hooker found a way through the Accies defence to score their first try. The conversion was missed but the deficit was only 2 points.       7 – 5

Accies went straight back onto the attack and were clearly hurt by this defensive mistake. They attacked the kick off and put real pressure on their opponents, working the ball inside GHK’s 22. However after several drives at the line the referee decided that the scrum 5 should be awarded to GHK. Once again Accies pack put real pressure on the GHK scrum and the number 8 had to pick the ball out of the retreating scrum and was forced to touch down. Off the resultant Accies scrum there were several pick and goes, but it required a beautiful soft pass from Josh Waldin to create enough space for Ryan Sweeney to come off his shoulder and score close to the posts. Just reward for all the forwards efforts. A simple conversion by Gregor Macewen made the score   14 – 5

GHK kicked off, again with determination in their eyes. Local derbies have the ability to bring the best out of every player. So GHK went onto the attack with real determination and were putting Accies under real pressure and despite some great clearance work from Ross Cowan’s boot, they worked their way into Accies half. Today’s excellent referee, Calum Worsley, decide that Accies had infringed at the breakdown and GHK stand-off, Kyle Henderson, who had won the game earlier in the season, converted the simple 30 metre kick, in front of the posts to make the score         14 – 8

As they had done last week against a strong Preston Lodge side the Accies players were using defence as a weapon and once again had worked their way inside GHK 22. The pack were pounding the GHK line but as was to be expected GHK were defending really well, however Josh Waldin saw the chance and some quick ball was run at the first line of defence and Scott Simmons picked his line of running to perfection and taking the pass from Josh raced over for Accies 3rd try.  Another successful conversion by Macewen.  21 – 8

This brought the first half of frantic end to end action, effort and commitment, to a close. For all the superb support that had turned up for this historic fixture there had been great excitement, some great skilful rugby and it was clear that neither side had yet won or lost this match.

Half – time   21 – 8

So it was no surprise to anyone who has witnessed these fixtures in the past that GHK came out of the blocks in the second half and were putting Accies to the cosh. The lineout was one of the areas that GHK had done well in throughout the game and that combined with a renewed effort had put GHK back inside Accies 5 metre area. However with equal commitment and determination in defence Accies forced GHK back towards the 22 and from another strong scrum, our visionary scrum half saw the fact that the opposition defence was tightly packed and he decided that instead of going for the clearance kick he ran blind and set Ross Cowan off on one of his unbelievable runs. First defender, ‘I have him’, sorry, no I don’t, well the next two must stop him, ‘how did he get passed us?’  ‘don’t worry I have him in my sights’ was heard from the GHK fullback, ‘sorry no I don’t’ and Ross crosses in the corner, for another outstanding try, worth every penny of the entrance cost.  A brilliant touchline conversion from Gregor Macewen added the just reward to a great try.       28 – 8

Surely this would be the blow that would silence the GHK brave attempt to win this encounter. ‘No chance’ was the cry from the GHK players. They increased their effort, if that was possible, and were once again back inside Accies 22 after 2 simple penalties had been given away by Accies. Forward drives were repelled but Accies could not stop a determined centre from joining the fray and scoring close to the ruck. A good conversion from their 10, put them back in the game..       28 – 15

Harry Briggs had joined the fray a few minutes earlier to replace the powerful Hugh Lindsay and full of determination he allowed his enthusiasm to get the better of him and as a superb kick off was coming to earth he took the GHK receiver in the air. 10 minutes to get his hormones into place. This seemed to invigorate the GHK support and team. Back into Accies half from the resulting penalty and another infringement at the breakdown resulted in yet another yellow card for a repeat team infringement saw PJ Rankin also having a rest. How could Accies 13 players possibly hold back a determined GHK 15. Well as one supporter related to me after the game, there was an even more determined look in the eyes of Accies players during that period.  Accies only conceded 5 points during that 14 minute period with a try out wide by their centre. Conversion missed     28 - 20

Accies had done really well during this period and with the return of both players Accies were now back to full strength. With Gordon McGuire on, Kris Mathie taking over from Ross Cowan, Matthew Holland stepping into the centre for Gregor Macewen and Greg Valentine on for Chris Goodfellow, Accies went back onto the attack. The game had become more broken as players were showing the effects of their 100% commitment. But Accies decide they needed to have the final say and after several attacks from the forwards and then the backs, they had not made the breakthrough they were looking for. However the call came from Adam Lowry at 10 to move the ball. Josh fired a superb 15 metre pass to Adam who fired the ball ‘Russel style’ 20 metres into the hands of Ryan Sweeney, Accies outstanding number 8, running at the final GHK defence, he then passed to – no not Accies winger, but the MOTM, second row William Brown , who raced the final 15 metres to cross for a brilliant try. A try that encapsulates what this side is all about – forwards or backs can run pass and score.  Tough conversion missed but Accies had won an outstanding game of commitment and skill by both sides.    33 – 20

Mr Worsley decided that the game was over and we could all retire to the clubhouse to discuss the best and worst pieces of this enthralling and superb local derby.

FULL- TIME 33 - 20

The large crowd were treated to some great rugby and most certainly two teams who gave everything to the cause.  As I have said at the start of this report, this is a fixture that goes back in history and as someone who has experienced some epic encounters in this fixture,  I was impressed that today’s players demonstrated that the commitment and skill levels are still as great as they have ever been.

Both clubs have survived in National League 2 this season, despite all the injury issues that they have both had to cope with. We can all look forward to next season now and whilst looking forward to the rest over the next few weeks I know that both sets of players will now be planning revenge and dominance next season!

Finally a big thank you to Mo and all her helpers for a superb lunch as a build up to the main event, and to Richard, Irene and all the staff for keeping on smiling and looking after us throughout the day.

Rugby is as much about the clubhouse as it is about the game and today all that were present were part of a great day on and off the pitch – thank you to all the supporters for making it a day to remember.