Highland's good form continues.
Highland got back on the field at Canal Park for the first time in 2023 against Glasgow outfit, GHK RFC. It was a cracking day for rugby. Bright skies, and no wind to speak of at a calm Canal Park.
There was some concern that maybe a few would be caught out by the earlier 2pm KO, which was forced as a result of a technical problem with the flood lights, but a good sized crowd turned up for which we thank you.
There was so much in this first half that you’ll be better watching the highlights video than me writing a speil.
GHK arrived hoping to do the double over Highland – having beaten the 1st 15 24-13 down at Old Anniesland back in September.
Highland had other ideas. It took about 10 minutes to shake off a little bit of rustiness left over from the festive break.
From then on it was all Highland, securing the try bonus in a blistering 15min spell. Ultimately Highland scored five unanswered tries through Craig Findlater (2), Magnus Henry, Rupeni Rokoduguni, & Hugo Crush, with Scott Fraser landing 4 out of 5 conversions.
It could have been even more as in the last play of the first half the final pass to Kev Brown was ruled forward denying the veteran forward a try on his return to the 1st XV.
This meant that Highland went in 33-0 up at the break.
Highland came out for the second half playing towards the Great Glen – but they were not to be troubled by the setting sun as it had disappeared behind the clouds and was not to be seen again for the rest of the game.
Highland continued their pressing game, and with GHK falling foul of the ref when attempting the tackle, they kept the game in GHK’s half.
5mins into the 2nd half Highland were awarded a pen in front of the GHK posts but elected to take the scrum, resulting in Magnus Henry going in under the posts for his 2nd try, Scotty Fraser converting again.
From the restart, GHK secured possession and were heading towards the Highland 22. At this point the ref ruled what most observers thought was a dominant tackle by Hugo Crush to be a tip tackle and gave him a yellow card. GHK would now be looking to take advantage of their extra man.
Things became a bit testy for while, and the ref warned both teams in regards to off the ball scuffles.
GHK forwards battered at Highlands line for about 5 minutes, only for Highland to ultimately clear their line – but not make touch. GHK ran the ball back angling in from the left touch line, then spreading the ball right. The last pass to GHK winger James Hulme was nearly intercepted but the winger secured the ball and barged his way over the try line. The conversion was missed.
Hugo Crush returned to the field after his yellow card a few minutes after GHK’s try.
Highland weren’t having things so much their own way as the first half in the contact area, and were also falling on the wrong side of the ref at scrum time which broke up Highlands rhythm somewhat.
Around 20mins into the 2nds half, GHK had a line out on their own 10m line and looked to catch and drive. Highland prop Scuba Murray came through the middle of the maul and ripped the ball clear and broke upfield. Highland spun the ball across the width of the pitch to Rupeni Rokoduguni who outflanked and out paced his opposite number to go in for his 2nd and Highlands 7th try.
The notable event of the next 20mins or so was the 1st XV debut of another Highland youngster in 18 year old Svend Dale Pedersen, who was not in the least bit phased by playing up with the big boys and aquitted himself really well.
Highland still wanted to put an exclamation mark down at the end of the game.
Off a line out on the GHK 22, the ball was again taken up by Jonny Milton and Callum Carson into the 22 before swinging the ball into midfield where Jack Sutherland ignored a 2 man overlap on the outside to cut back against the grain and force himself over the line for Highlands 8th and last try.
Scott Fraser converted as the last act of the game.
Full Time: Highland 52-05 GHK
You can find more photographs from Saturday’s Game by clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.627316292659804&type=3
With Wingers Craig Findlater, and Magnus Henry, as well as centre Rupeni Rokoduguni scoring braces, and the tireless running of Hugo Crush around the park there were many contenders for the Man of the Match as sponsored by The Walrus & Corkscrew.
However, on this occasion the award went to one of the many forwards putting in a great shift up front – loosehead Stephen Murray.
2nd XV News: Raptors 79-12 Banff RFC
Banff didn’t have their troubles to seek, but its to their immense credit that they travelled to Inverness with reduced numbers to face the Caledonia North League Division 2 leaders.
The game kicked off at the same time as the 1st XV and had a sizeable crowd of their own to encourage both teams.
Unfortunately I don’t have any other details of the game at the time of writing.