Peebles 22pts Hillhead/Jordanhill 19pts
Thankfully the rain which had drenched parts of west central Scotland for most of Saturday stayed away from the Gytes to allow this RBS Premier 2 fixture to be completed in dry conditions. If it had rained, the wet weather, however, would have provided a fitting backdrop to the standard of play, which apart from a very bright opening quarter from the visitors, was fairly “dire”. “Hills” welcomed back to their front row Nick McAuley, who had clearly benefited from his furlough in Canada as a lumberjack, now neatly fitting the No. 3 XXXL shirt. Early scrummage pressure from the visitors caused serious disruptions to the Peebles pack and provided good field positions for the “Hills”. Equally, the line-out was also a profitable source of good ball with David Fisken proving to be an effective contributor, but for all their first phase domination, “Hills” had only Twaddle’s two penalty goals to show for their efforts after twenty minutes. Thereafter, uncertainty in the midfield when trying to run static ball proved to be “Hills” downfall; and provided opportunities for Warnock to show both his place kicking and running skills , the Peebles no. 10 first kicking a penalty and then running in a fine individual try which he goaled to take his side ten points to six ahead with thirty minutes played. To their credit, “Hills” rallied, and a Twaddle kick to the corner allowed the “Hills” “beastie boys “ to rumble around, with Joe Stafford making the break which allowed Nick McAuley to “ghost” through by the posts for a try. Twaddle converted, but then the “Hills”, not for the first time in the afternoon, showed poor discipline at the breakdown to give Warnock a further chance to move the scoreboard to thirteen points all at the interval.
The second half was attritional rugby with neither side capable of fusing any consistency in their play or field strategy. Both sides were guilty of poor play at the breakdown with shoals of penalties conceded for failure to release and “going over the top”. The scoreboard moved only fitfully when Warnock and Twaddle confirmed their roles as chief points gatherers for their sides with virtually faultless displays of goal kicking. There were precious few highlights for the “Hills” with the exception of Twaddle who cleverly kicked crossfield for Howie who just failed to catch the ball, and Howie, himself, who looked lively on the rare occasions he had the ball in an attacking position. It was unfortunate that the “Hills” best attacking ploy was left until the very last minute of stoppage play when twenty two points to nineteen down. Some quick continuity rugby with captain Stuart Ross at the heart led to at least two Peebles players being left prone on the ground due to the intensity of contact but the move fizzled out due to poor ball retention with the try line in sight. And that was it : a seventh bonus point acquired after six games in the RBS Premier 2.
Next Saturday, the 8th October, “Hills” return to Hughenden to entertain Kelso on the new Great Western Road pitch. Due to the Clubhouse refurbishment and the grounds improvement following the sale of the development plot, this will be the first time “Hills” have played at their home ground since November 2010. Off the five games remaining until the split i.e. after the first eleven league games , “Hills” play at home on four of these Saturdays. With some solid touchline support, it will not be long before the regular supply of bonus points is added to with a four point win. Kick-off is at 15.00 hours
Hills” 1st XV – Stuart Howie, Daniel Osugo , David Paterson, Ally Wright, Andy Leslie, Angus Twaddle, Haddon McPherson, Will Goulden ( Joe Stafford ) , Joe Stafford ( Corey Buchan ) , Nick McAuley , Douglas Wood ( (Johnny Agnew ) , David Fisken , Donald Pitkethly, Stuart Ross ( C ) and Douglas Crichton. Subs Donald Robertson and Douglas Grove