SOMETHING had to give when two teams with 100 per cent winning records for the season came together in a winner-takes-all final.
GHK - 19
St Boswells - 27
It was the Glasgow side who blinked first and St Boswells who had the satisfaction of victory after being disqualified from last year’s final for infringing player registration rules.
The champions of their respective leagues, BT West Division 1 and BT East Division 2, should have been evenly matched but St Boswells’ quartet of first-half tries put GHK at a distance from which they couldn’t recover despite three tries of their own after the break.
St Boswells player-coach David Cassidy said: “Everyone we played has tried to take our scalp and failed. Everyone we have played in this competition has been from a higher league and we have won. GHK were a fast, young side and in the second half we had to work hard to keep them out but we never stopped believing.”
An early 40–metre penalty attempt by St Boswells stand-off Dean McCracken came back off the post but his team stayed in the GHK half and kept up the pressure until hooker Gary Douglas forced his way over for the first try after only four minutes of play. McCracken converted.
GHK winger Haydn Parkes thought he was away and clear on the right but a tap tackle saw him stumble into touch. It was St Boswells who showed the greater threat with their carrying and running and intelligent kicking from hand by McCracken, but GHK had their moments too as both defences were repeatedly tested only to hold firm.
Just before the half hour it wasn’t a missed tackle but a loose pass by GHK full-back Scott Robertson that allowed St Boswells winger Andrew Haig to snap up an interception and run in unchallenged from 35 metres,
A third try came for St Boswells as defenders backed off a surge by McCracken and, with two men outside, he just kept going all the way to the line and then kicked the conversion.
Right on the stroke of half-time, another interception in midfield by Haig ultimately set up McCracken to give a clever inside pass to his full-back Graham Lothian, who strolled over for the fourth try.
Immediately after the restart GHK were held up over the line when scrum-half Mike Aird seemed to have slipped through. A yellow card for a dangerous tackle by St Boswells blindside Jordan Broom gave GHK the numerical advantage and they made good use of it, sending the ball wide for winger Marc Taylor to score. Robertson kicked the conversion from the touchline.
Then GHK broke away from their own line after heavy pressure by St Boswells and the ball went wide to Parkes on halfway who then left everybody behind as he scorched up the right wing for the try. McCracken settled St Boswells nerves with a penalty that made the margin 15 points as the game went into its final quarter. A third try for GHK ate into that margin as blindside flanker Jamie MacLean latched on to an off-load to touch down behind the posts for a converted try but it wasn’t enough and St Boswells held on, retaining possession and running the clock down, effectively controlling the game to the end.
Scorers: GHK – Tries: Taylor, Parkes, MacLean. Cons: Robertson 2. St Boswells – Tries: Douglas, Haig, McCracken, Lothian. Cons: McCracken 2. Pens: McCracken.
GHK: S Robertson, H Parkes, J Kinane M Martin, M Taylor, R Long, M Aird, A McCulloch, G Reid, C McPhee, L Brock, N Hurn, J MacLean, H Parker, M Borthwick. Replacements: R MacFarlane, C McLay, S Cameron, J Hanks, P Ritchie, G Woolard, R Coates.
St Boswells: G Lothian, J Lebbon, D Cassidy, G Wylie, A Haig, D McCracken, M McVie, B Lilly, G Douglas, T Skeet, B Gilchrist, A Donoghue, J Broom, S Hill, R Hogg. Replacements: D Cowan, L Kibble, S Tomlinson, S Elliot, B Hill, C Brown, I Dawtry.
Referee: G Ormiston.