Tom Haywood reports from Braidholm
In a game with a margin of over fifteen points, it should not have been as close as it was with Peebles clinching the game in the last five minutes. GHA haven’t won a game yet this season, coming close to it last week though against Jed Forest, drawing 17-17. The game started at a delayed time of 3:30 because the Peebles coach was stuck in traffic, but this allowed time for the weather to clear and the sun to come out, so the weather was good when the game kicked off.
GHA were the first side to attack on their home turf, with a break that was stopped before they had the chance to capitalise when the touch judge deemed the player’s foot to be in touch. Both sides had chances in the first twenty minutes, but neither side could use them to get the first points. After twenty minutes of stalemate Peebles opened the scoring with a try. They drew the GHA forwards into a ruck, and left the wing open for Neil Hogarth to score. Peebles came close to their second try very shortly after Donald Anderson and Alan Smellie made a break down the wing. However the defence managed to set their line too fast for Peebles and the chance was lost when the referee gave GHA a penalty and they cleared. Peebles made the first substitutions half an hour into the game, with Adam Clark coming on for his brother Neil Clark. GHA equalised with a break that was tackled, and from the ruck, the ball was passed out wide for a try. The conversion from near touch was missed, bouncing off the post. Peebles scored their second try to take them into the lead again when Steve Gee scored in the corner, and the conversion just dropped short. GHA got their last points of the half when a penalty was given, and they went for goal and sliced it through to take the score within two points of Peebles.
The Peebles pack had shown great skill, especially in achieving a number of turnovers, in the first half, and the backs had also been very useful. After an extended half time so that the GHA minis could show off their skill on the main pitch, both sides came back on invigorated, and with the chance for either side to win.
Peebles got the first chance of the second half with a penalty near the posts, but it was missed. GHA finally got into the lead in the tenth minute of the second half when they slotted a penalty through the uprights, and extended their lead five minutes later with a try in the corner, and the difficult conversion was missed. Peebles needed a try to take them back into the lead, and they got this when James Oakes broke through the defence in the corner and ran under posts to touch down. The conversion was kicked to make the score 17-16. GHA looked to have a chance of winning their first game, as they began to dominate. Twice they nearly got it with standoff Jim Noonan narrowly missing two drop goal attempts. Peebles held them off, and a penalty kicked by Steve Gee helped retain that lead. It was still a tight game though, but a minute after the penalty Peebles made it safe, when Donald Sangster intercepted and made a break down the touchline and offloaded to Fraser Strachan who ran in to score the bonus point try. Then, before you could blink, a kick forward, followed up by a line of Peebles backs, pressurised GHA as they cleared the ball out of their twenty two. Neil Warnock charged the kick down, and picked it up to score under the posts with Donald Anderson converting.
The game ended with the score 16-32, not the score line most were expecting at halftime. Despite the loss for GHA, it was a game enjoyed by all with Peebles working their way up the table to fourth, equal on points with Aberdeen and Hawick with points’ difference deciding the positions.
Willie Aitken 11 Neil Hogarth
Ryan McConnell 12 Craig Borthwick
Adam Clark 13 Steve Gee
David Harvey 14 Allan Smellie
Matt Thompson 15 Donald Anderson
James Oakes 16 Matt Carryer
Donald Sangster 17 Neil Clark
David Paton 18 Sandy Smellie
Fraser Strachan 19 Craig Hunter