GHK 24-19 Howe of Fife

Howe winger Eden Cruickshank going tohand off a GHK defender with Graham Thomson in support. Pic by Chris Reekie.
Howe winger Eden Cruickshank going tohand off a GHK defender with Graham Thomson in support. Pic by Chris Reekie.

Following a 19-19 draw earlier in the season, and with only a couple of points separating the teams, this was aleays going to be another close encounter.

The close quarter forward play dominated the early exchanges while greasy ball and heavy ground conditions caused errors from both sides.

It was Howe who took the initiative with good driving and direct running from the forwards for Will Howley to score beside the posts, an easy conversion for Dylan Suttie.

GHK responded.

They kept Howe pinned in their half for fifteen to twenty minutes.

Only their lack of precision in the pass, some poor tactical awareness and last-ditch Howe tacking, with the try line beckoning, kept them from scoring.

Howe did have a couple of chances of their own, unfortunately they were unable to add their early score.

GHK finally breached the Howe defence after 30 minutes.

GHK continued to lay siege on the Howe line.

A long run from their left winger was only stopped by a chasing tackle from Connor Crawford, who had to leave the field with an injury.

Steven Player came on at prop and young Rory Johnstone took on the Hooker mantle.

This was a big blow to Howe on two accounts, they now lacked the accuracy at the lineout, which was very evident in the second half, and his speed and strength around the field.

Another change for Howe saw the introduction of Andy Steven, not to his usual berth, but out onto the right wing.

The referee appeared to have forgotten his watch as play proceeded past 40 minutes, giving time for Howe to transgress at a breakdown and opposition fullback slotted over a penalty to give them the lead 10-7 as the whistle drew the first period to a close.

Once again Howe started brightly, as in the first period they were unable to capitalise on the opportunities.

It was GHK who pulled further in front.

They were much more cohesive as a unit, more direct, working tightly together, always creating momentum. Another try, unconverted from the Hosts, stretched their lead 17-7.

It has become a familiar sight for Howe supporters to see their team rally, their attitude can never be faulted.

And in Captain James Lawrie they have a leader who never gives up.

It was Lawrie who seemingly took on the GHK pack to rumble over at the posts to score and give an easy kick for Suttie to bring Howe back into the game, 17-14.

The telling factor for Howe at this point was their lack of control at the lineout.

With good field position, they could not find their jumpers.

The ball bouncing back to GHK, who were able to relieve the pressure. While Howe had some territorial opportunities, they were not effective running wide, and the forwards were working individually, often taking the ball standing still.

George Henderson was introduced to the second row to provide some added bulk, with Howley going on the flank.

It was very much still anyone’s game to win.

The killer blow seemed to come when a close-range pass to a GHK centre running a good angle, cut through the Howe defence to score close to the posts.

With an easy conversion, GHK led 24-14.

With time running out Howe began to show more collective cohesion, interlinking play from forwards and backs, exploiting more space.

With both sides feeling the effects of attrition and heavy pitch, it was a huge effort from Howe which saw Howley grab his second score out wide right. With Seconds remaining Suttie had a quick long-range kick to get the game restarted and the opportunity for one more attack.

As much as Howe worked to get themselves into the GHK territory, they conceded a penalty for not releasing on the ground. The match ended with the penalty attempt going wide. A bonus losing point is valuable but the last three very close games for Howe may well have sealed their fate for next season. Yet with the implementation of the Super Six format the future of the leagues are still uncertain.