1st XV - Report
EK lose to slick GHK who gain try bonus
2nd (GHK) played 3rd (EK) on a cold windy night at GHK. The better team won, displaying excellent unit skills while EK efforts were too individual.
EK disappointingly lost in a competitive match last night at Old Anniesland. Sadly, our three best backs were out due to knee injuries so the team selection was a bit makeshift.
Everyone tried hard but with two makeshift wings (one a versatile second row), it was optimistic to think EK could produce their recent form. EK had the bigger pack but the GHK eight operated better as a unit, and crucially were faster to the breakdown.
GHK scored an early unconverted try from a line out drive to go 5-0 ahead. EK responded in the 9th minute with their own driving try, through Calum Aitken, but it was a tad fortuitous. Score 5-5
The good fortune was the ref awarded EK a penalty instead of a scrum for GHK being in front of a drop out. This allowed a forward drive which ultimately led to the try. The ref - admittedly a late replacement - did not have the best of nights. Usually one would argue that such events balance out so perhaps it is best summed up as both sets of officials shared the same even view about the ref!
But the ref did not really influence the outcome. EK first up tackling was poor throughout the match, partly attributable to the elusive GHK backs. This meant they could never relax and only desperate defending at times prevented the home side scoring more tries.
In the first half, EK struggled with fielding and returning GHK kicks. This led to GHK resuming the lead after 11 minutes when an EK guddle led to turnover ball and a GHK unconverted try. 10-5.
Midway through the half, GHK again exploited the uncertainty of the EK back three with another try, this time converted. 17-5 EK were looking a bit bemused at this point. GHK followed up with a penalty for an EK offside after 30 minutes to give them a 20-5 lead.
The EK scrum was driving strongly but had no luck with the referee. Neither set of supporters seemed very happy with decisions when EK recycled a ruck ball which saw centre Grant Seymour break through for a good score from some 25 metres, which Greenfield converted to leave the half time score as 20-12.
The EK half time team talk must have been "let's make use of the wind, kick deep and try and use our pack". Sadly this did not work - partly as the wind seemed to weaken as the night progressed and partly because EK simply did not secure enough ball to give themselves a chance. Nor did we kick that well when we had the ball.
An "old fart" (difficult to choose which one from the range available on the night) would argue that GHK did not make sufficient use of the wwind in the first half. And they still scored three tries!
Any real hopes of an EK revival died in the first minutes of the half. From a clearance kick, GHK ran the ball back through three or four invisible tackles. Their centre must have thought it was Christmas as his run continued unmolested to score in the corner. The superb touchline conversion made it 27-12.
GHK almost repeated it immediately but veteran MacDonald - who had a good match throughout - saved the day. GHK were running everything and EK's defence was looking suspect.
The penalty count, which had been even in the first half went off the Richter scale in favour of GHK which made it more difficult for EK to escape their half.
A GHK penalty hit the post in the 13th minute providing lock Paul Rosie an opportunity for a gallop of some 30 metres through and over the opposition. But overall, EK's attacks seldom had crisp or quick support with the ball carrier often going to ground with support slow to arrive. We have a big back row but we need a flyer to secure ball at the breakdown.
EK had a brief spell in the GHK 22, the touchline only just denying scrum half Fraser Little a try. But other ventures saw EK take the wrong angle or run out of support. Playing an EK advantage, Greenfield unusually dropped a goal to reduce the deficit to 27-15 after 33 minutes.
GHK got their final try in the 34th minute, from another line out drive and thoroughly deserved the victory. EK have got two weeks in which to lick their wounds but sadly this won;t be long enough for the dodgy knees of our three creators to improve sufficiently for their return. Result: 32-15.
The injured centre Ian Brown vented his frustration again last night with someone else's camera, which he promptly blamed for being harder to use. Let's hope he deletes some of his more distant photos before loading the album in to the match report. This won't be until later today as the team were going in to town after the match. Let's hope this helped lift their spirits.
Man of the Match: not many candidates for this. Andy MacDonald was steady, Grant Seymour tried hard all night while the pack had a hard time. That said, let's give it to Captain Pugwash who jumped, tackled and strove hard all night. Well done Paul Rosie!
Next week EK take a bit of light relief by travelling to Chalons en Champagne in France to resume the spirit of rugby with our French twins. A mixed standard XV will play Chalons on Sunday - when spirits will be high after we hope Scotland's victory the evening before.
Proper competitive action resumes on 23 March when EK host Glasgow Accies, who are breathing down our necks seeking to secure third place in the league. Kick off 3pm.
Team: 15. Andy MacDonald; 14. David Rosie; 13. Alan Henderson; 12. Grant Seymour; 11. Mark Ellison; 10. Robbie Greenfield; 9. Fraser Little; 8. Calum Aitken; 7. Gareth Jones, Captain; 6. Craig Ferguson Junior; 5. Paul Rosie; 4. Ally dalgleish; 3. Chris Mclellan; 2. Jason Currie; 1. Scott Aitken.