Hillhead/Jordanhill 22pts West of Scotland 17pts
In a game full of commitment from both sides played on a heavy Hughenden pitch, “Hills” recorded a fine win in the final game of the first set of eleven Premier 2 fixtures by a converted penalty try and three tries to two goals and one penalty goal. The first half performance produced an absorbing contest with neither side able to gain an upper hand due to the committed defences but early scrummage pressure from the home pack hinted at some West frailty in this area. Line breaks were few, but West looked menacing when their play switched left with only some desperate tackling from Howie and MacPherson keeping the visitors out. Home centre, Ally Wright, was injured in a rare piece of “Hills” pressure, but “West” countered fiercely to set up a penalty chance for Colin Duck to open the “West” scoring. This spurred the “Hills” into action and led to a period of pressure for the home side, but referee, Gary Gordon, was fastidious in the management of the breakdown, issuing warnings to both packs about going off their feet at the rucks with home second rower Matthew Bottarini, being the first player to be carded for the offence. When the going gets tough, the well nourished Messers Stafford and McAuley, get going, and it was these two front row workhorses who were responsible for “Hills” lifting their collective game to drive over for a close range try with captain Joe Joe Stafford being awarded the score. Hills were now in the ascendancy, and a fine sweeping move saw the ball being swung left with Andy Leslie in the clear and grubbering the ball through for replacement David Paterson to chase for the line. “West” interference with his progress led to the immediate award of a penalty try, and took “Hills” to a twelve – three points lead at the interval.
There was still little in it after the break until the mercurial Haddon McPherson, “Hills” scrum half, stamped his personality and authority on the proceedings. A fine 50 metre run with the ball in hand during which he went one way then the other took his side to an attacking scrum some five metres from the line. Some good close range work , followed by a charge from the gargantuan Nick McAuley which sucked in much of the visitors’ defence, allowed Cameron “QC” McCulloch, a steady hand at the stand – off position throughout, to put Joe Stafford in the clear on the right for the captain to score his second try. Even seventeen points to three ahead, there was still some thirty minutes left to play, and “West” were still dangerous with their short bursts and offloads. But the “no holds barred” collisions in the breakdown areas can be shown to be superfluous when the gifted individual finds some space to weave some magic. Thus it was when Daniel Ozugo fielded a good West clearance kick on his right wing beat some thirty five metres out from the “West” line, and threw a challenging pass infield which his full back. Stewart Howie, just managed to catch. He looked up, spotted a vulnerable visitors midfield defence to glide through unopposed by the posts. This was the “Hills” bonus point try and there was now only some twelve minutes to play. But the spirited visitors, albeit with only fourteen men for the final nine minutes of the game, took the play to the “Hills”. The pace and intensity of the game had been hectic throughout and the effects of matching the heavier and bigger “West” pack began to take its toll on the “Hills” XV who had now used all their four replacements. Good concentrated driving saw the West pack heave over the line, and from the final move of the game, Jordanhill sixth year school boy, Neil Herron, stole through the home defence to touch down behind the “Hills” posts. It was, however, for “West” too little too late given the supremacy and efficiency of the “Hills” play in the third quarter of the game. Colin Duck’s third successful kick of the game was its final act with “Hills” claiming five points from the fixture to West’s one.
Both clubs now have the “luxury” of a prolonged mid season break till the competitive final seven games commence on the second Saturday of January. Certainly for amateurs playing at this level of intensity some rest and recuperation will be welcome, but whether Clubs can manage financially without any league games for some nine weeks is doubtful.
Hills” 1st XV – Stuart Howie, Daniel Osugo , Ally Wright ( David Paterson ), Chris Butler , Andy Leslie , Cameron McCulloch, Haddon McPherson, Will Goulden, Joe Stafford ( C ) ( Corey Buchan ) , Nick McAuley ( Joe Stafford ), Jonny Agnew, Matthew Bottarini ( Evaristo Gray ) , Donald Pitkethly Douglas Grove ( Aidan McMillan ) and Douglas Crichton . Subs All used