Hamilton 31pts Hillhead/Jordanhill 28pts
For a neutral, this was a highly entertaining game with eight tries being shared equally by the clubs; but for the supporters of both the clubs it was one of contrasting emotions. The “Hills” had the opportunities to win in a pulsating final ten minutes, while the “Bulls” had the collective sprit to shrug off the loss of one of their centres to play for the final thirty five minutes with only fourteen men and record a fine victory.
Any suggestion of a closely contested final few minutes seemed unthinkable after the opening few passages of play during which the “Bulls” monopolised possession and kept the visitors firmly on their back foot. In fact such was the “Hills” difficulty in adhering to the offside lines that they conceded three early penalties, all within kicking distance, with the home stand-off, McLeish, converting two. But “Hills” eventually worked their way out of the their half thanks to the bullocking efforts of Joe Stafford, their own prized piece of raw meat, who took the game well to the opposition. Hamilton conceded a penalty and with the visiting cognoscenti roaring for a kick at goal, the alert second rower, Jonny Agnew, though better and took a quick tap, which after two phases of controlled play, led to the returning Will Marshall plunging over following a well chosen angle of running for a try. Marshall’s bursts from Paterson’s quick hands were proving hard for the home defence to hold and that combined with strong “Hills” scrummaging turned the game. Pressure in the home twenty two allowed Haddon McPherson to scamper through a splintered defence for a fine individual try which he goaled. The scrum half then added a further penalty as Hamilton experienced problems in combating “Hills” aggression, but during a rare excursion into the “Hills” half, Mcleish converted another penalty goal to take the score to 9-15 after thirty minutes. “Hills” continued to press, and McPherson took another chance to display his kicking skills to bring his side to 18pts to 9 with only two minutes to half time. But then some ill structured play in their own twenty two by the “Hills” in failing to clear their lines effectively allowed their hosts to take advantage to run over for a try to leave the half time score 18pts to 14 in favour of the visitors. With the wind at their backs, the “Hills” now looked able to extend their lead in the second half, but it was not to be.
Certainly for the first five minutes of the second period of play, “Hills” remained on top but then the sending off of one of the Hamilton centres for a second yellow card offence produced a game changing moment. It seemed that the “Hills” had the opportunity to build on their lead playing against fourteen men, but they had reckoned without the spirit of the “Bulls” and the leadership qualities of their captain, Richard Maxton. The home side became galvanised, and in the space of twenty five minutes turned the game on its head with two well taken close range tries from their forwards and an excellent winger’s try from Scott Murray. The “Hills” had their moments with a fine break from stand off, David Paterson, whose offload to the onrushing Will Marshall just failed to stick, while Haddon McPherson was denied a typical interception try, being called back for a fractionally off side decision. “Hills” were then 31pts to 18 down with less than eight minutes remaining when their fight back began. No. 8, Douglas Crichton, had been prominent all game with his attacking of the gain line, and some good continuity play saw his fellow back rower, Donald Pitkethly, touch down well to the left of the posts. From the restart, the “Hills” forwards mauled the ball downfield, and from a well driven maul, Joe Stafford emerged to sprint around the blind side to touch down. Both conversions proved too difficult, but there was still time left to score the decisive try. But it was not to be despite the “Hills” pressing to the end, and the outcome of this highly charged contest was the “Bulls” collected five points with their win and one point try bonus, while the “Hills” gained two, one losing and one from scoring four tries.
Because of the redevelopment works at Hughenden, the “Hills” have played their first four league games of the season away, and for this coming Saturday, thanks to the assistance of the Glasgow Accies committee, their next fixture will be played at New Anniesland against the Whitecraigs Club with a 15.00 hours K.O.
“Hills” 1st XV – Stuart Howie, Daniel Osugo , Will Marshall, Ally Wright, Chris Butler, David Paterson ( Cammy McCulloch ), Haddon McPherson, Paul Sheerin ( Craig Watson ), Joe Stafford , Will Goulden, Johnny Agnew ( Douglas Wood ) , David Fisken , Donald Pitkethly, Stuart Ross ( Captain ) and Douglas Crichton. Subs – Aiden McMillan