GHA returned to winning ways and revived their appetite for bonus points by scoring five tries in beating Watsonians at Braidholm on Saturday but, in a Wellingtonian way, it was a damned close-run thing.
Not only did GHA have to overturn an interval deficit with three second half-tries but, right to the end, the home team were under threat, albeit they eventually denied Watsonians a losing bonus point.
That, though, was achieved only with a try by Max McFarlane in the last play of the match for a win that was all the more satisfying after the home defeat by Dundee the previous week.
GHA’s win kept them in second place in the BT National League Division 1 table and pushed Watsonians back. Promotion to the Premiership is clearly in the sights at Braidholm, but another promotion contender, Stewart’s Melville, is next in line on GHA’s visit to Inverleith at the end of this week. Given the conditions at Braidholm on Saturday, with lowering clouds and heavy rain still falling on a sodden pitch, no one could have expected a contest with as many as seven tries.
Yet GHA produced two, scored by Rangi Jericevich and Chris Binnie.
Both of those tries derived from sharp exploitation of Watsonian mistakes. Binnie scored off an out-in exchange with Rangi Jericevich after just 10 minutes, and the latter finished off from Binnie’s initial surge and Niall Cassie’s linkage with just short of half an hour gone.
As a total contrast, Ross Angus and Grant MacDonald scored tries in driving mauls off line-out possession.
The latter’s score was as magnificent as any of its type, with GHA marching the maul for 20 metres with the inevitability of a plodding elephant shunting logs.
The Binnie and Jericevich trys gave GHA the lead for the first time in the match. Peter Jericevich converted both and added a penalty goal for 17-13 after 33 minutes.
Watsonians, however, had had the first score of the match, Rory Steele cashing in on an opposition error for a try that Brian Walls converted. Two penalty goals by Walls sandwiched GHA’s first and second tries, and he kicked two more such scores in the last five minutes of the first half for a 19-17 lead at the interval. Three times in the third quarter the lead changed hands. The Angus try was answered by Ally Miller squeezing in at the right corner, and the MacDonald try in 59 minutes put GHA ahead for what was to be the final time. It was a tenuous lead at 27-24, with none of those three tries being converted.
MacDonald was injured only two minutes were left and stretchered off. Not content merely to hold possession for the win, hammering on the left-side of Watsonians’ goal-line, GHA switched to their own left for MacFarlane to dive over well out.
Referee: Charlie Sampson.