Hillhead/Jordanhill 23pts Selkirk 25pts
With heavy rain and strong, squally showers driving across the Great Western Road pitch, both teams made commendable efforts to entertain the band of loyal supporters who braved the elements to support their team. It was a game which “Hills” should have made more of, since, in the first half, they had the bulk of possession and territory, but their half time lead of fifteen points was insufficient to provide a cushion against some marauding play from the visitors who secured their win through not letting “Hills “ into their half and making good use of the overhead conditions.
It was “Hills” who were quickly into their stride taking advantage of some poor Selkirk handling to dribble on and touch down within a minute of the start but the try was disallowed. This setback did not deflect “Hills”, who were full of well directed aggression through the bullocking runs of Joe Stafford and snappy recycling at the breakdown. Haddon Macpherson’s persistence in searching for gaps eventually paid off when he made good ground in the Selkirk twenty-two to put Daniel Osugo over for a fine try which Andrew Leslie converted. “Hills” continued to dominate but found the visitor’s defence hard to penetrate. Andy Leslie converted a penalty chance, however, to edge his side into a ten points lead after twenty five minutes. Further pressure, ignited by strong running from Chris Butler and Joe Stafford with Andy Leslie kicking through, established good field position close to the Selkirk line. Some tremendous scrummaging which was repulsed by Selkirk, albeit they conceded two penalties in the process, finally produced sufficient ruck momentum to allow Douglas Crichton to score in the left hand corner. The conversion was missed, but “Hills” were now fifteen points up, yet there was no comfort zone as Selkirk fought their way back towards the end of the first half and it was only strong defensive work from “Hills” which kept them at bay.
Turning round with a fifteen point lead had perhaps encouraged some of the “drookit” home support to believe their team would coast the second half. It was clear that Selkirk’s mindset was focused on more fundamental matters, however, to change their whole approach to the game and win. Their game plan was not set on driving mauls, but was much more prosaic with high box kicks to unsettle the “Hills” back three, associated with fast follow up. Within fifteen minutes of the start of the second half, “Hills” advantage had been wiped out. There was little free ball for the home team to attack with, and the momentum with ball in hand, which had characterised much of their first half performance, was sadly muted. Selkirk again extended their lead when they won a scrum, moved the ball right to provide space for their best player on the day, Ryan Crockett, to score. There were some stirrings, however, with replacement prop, Nick McAuley, starting to rumble with good effect and hooker Joe Stafford again playing well and making yards as second receiver. An Andy Leslie penalty brought “Hills” to within four points of Selkirk, but then a killer penalty goal in response from Cassidy for Selkirk took his side to twenty five points to eighteen ahead with some ten minutes to go. With the rain having finally abated, “Hills” refound some of their earlier shine, and replacement back, Kirk James- Williams, ran hard to set up some good attacking field positions. Haddon Macpherson continued to probe on the blind side of the attacking rucks, and eventually created sufficient space for Andy Leslie to dot down in the left hand corner. Everything depended on the conversion, the final act of the match, but even with a second chance, due to an early Selkirk charge, the “Hills” kicker just failed, leaving his side tantalisingly close to obtaining draw points. “Hills” defeat was disappointing but it is certain that with the prospect of facing their city rivals, West of Scotland, at Hughenden in the final game before the split, the “Hills” will dig deep and up their performance.
On Saturday the 5th November, the fixture against West of Scotland has a 14.00 hours kick-off.
Hills” 1st XV – Stuart Howie, Daniel Osugo , David Paterson ( Kirk James-Williams ) , Chris Butler , Andy Leslie , Johnny Byrne-Leitch ( David Paterson ), Haddon McPherson, Paul Sheerin ( Nick McAuley ) , Joe Stafford , Will Goulden , Jonny Agnew, David Fisken , Donald Pitkethly ( C ), Douglas Wood ( Douglas Grove ) and Douglas Crichton . Subs Matthew Bottarini