Falkirk 5 Gordonians 0: Rust-free as relegation battle edged by home side at Sunnyside

Falkirk rugby club won a nail-biting, low-scoring meeting with their Aberdonian visitors – but it was a nervy ending for the local side.

By Mark Crawford
Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 11:13 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 11:27 am
Falkirk RFC v Gordonians RFC. Pictures: Alan Murray
Falkirk RFC v Gordonians RFC. Pictures: Alan Murray

Gordonians came into this vital relegation battle with renewed optimism following an impressive home win against Hamilton, while Falkirk suffered yet another weather-related call-off.

However, any fears that Falkirk would be rusty after their enforced 6 week lay-off were quickly dispelled as they delivered an aggressive early defensive response to a Gordonians side who decided to keep the ball tight and play a direct brand of rugby into the swirling headwind.

Falkirk then started to find gaps in the Gordonians defence. A line-break and side-step took centre Connor Faulds into their 22 and then lock Gregor Dodd broke through several tackles to set up what ultimately became a full 10 minutes of possession deep in the Gordonian half, interspersed by two penalties, both of which Falkirk elected to scrummage rather than kick. At one point during this period, full-back Ewan Rooney went for a gap between the last two defenders, rather than using his winger on the overlap, for what would have been a certain try, but the tackle was made and the chance was gone.

Falkirk RFC v Gordonians RFC. Pictures: Alan Murray

Falkirk continued to press though, and David Stoddart drove over the line shortly afterwards, only for the referee to adjudge that he had been held up, before bringing the sides back for another Falkirk penalty. The pressure was finally cleared when the home side knocked the ball on with the line beckoning.

Yet more first-half Falkirk pressure ensued, with the ball being held up on the line once again after some determined Gordonian defence. Then, from the resulting scrum, Gordonians managed to work the ball wide and release their winger, who looked certain to run it in from distance, before a despairing one handed tackle from Rooney, was just sufficient to bring his opponent to ground, allowing his back three colleague Calum Rennie to jackal for the ball and win a penalty.

It would have been harsh indeed had Falkirk gone into the break a score down, but despite having been under the cosh for most of the first period, Gordonians seemed the more upbeat side at half-time, especially with the prospect of having the wind behind them for the second 40 minutes.

However, when the game restarted Falkirk’s dominant scrum, aggressive line-speed and excellent disciplined work on the floor denied the visitors any sort of platform to build from. A penalty at the breakdown saw Falkirk kick to the corner and then execute a line-out drive which was positively motoring towards the Gordonian line, only to be illegally brought down a metre out. The home support vociferously demanded a yellow card and a penalty try, but they had to settle for just a penalty.

Falkirk RFC v Gordonians RFC. Pictures: Alan Murray

After another dominant scrummage, the Falkirk forwards drove over the line again, only to be held up for the third time in the match.

Inevitably, the pressure told after 60 minutes when number eight David Stoddart picked the ball out of a five-metre scrum and powered over to give Falkirk a well-deserved, but precarious, 5-0 lead as the conversion missed in a strong cross wind.

Falkirk continued to dominate territory and possession after they scored – and from an attacking scrum out on the right, the ball came back into centre field, where Chris Lawson expertly offloaded to Connor Faulds who seemed destined to settle the game with a score under the posts, only to lose the ball in the tackle as he crossed the line.

After so many chances to kill off the game, Falkirk were forced to endure a nervous final five minutes as Gordonians pinned them into the corner, but they stayed solid to secure the points and an important win that was far more convincing than the score suggested.

Falkirk RFC v Gordonians RFC. Pictures: Alan Murray
Falkirk RFC v Gordonians RFC. Pictures: Alan Murray
Falkirk RFC v Gordonians RFC. Pictures: Alan Murray
Falkirk RFC v Gordonians RFC. Pictures: Alan Murray