Hillhead/Jordanhill 43pts Dalziel 25pts
There is no immediate historical significance in the date of the 13th February 2016 unless you are one of the long suffering supporters of the Hillhead/Jordanhill 1st XV, as that was the last time the Hills won a home National League match. For the record, it was against Ardrossan Accies who were defeated that day by twenty nine points to nil. From the squad then, five players remained for this fixture, and for Darren Knox, Scotty Halliday, Rory Harte, Harry Perston and Blair Mackenzie, the nineteen months gap until their next home win must have seemed like a long dark nightmare suddenly ended. The end of this game at Hughenden proved a wonderful occasion for both Hills players and their supporters, but, in truth, the eventual outcome of the victory did seem, at some stages, rather remote.
The first half of the game was end to end stuff with mistakes galore, turnovers and scrappy play and Hills doing their very best at times to ensure Dalziel remained in contention, as Hills gifted their opponents two interception tries. While the game lacked some quality in parts, it made up for it elsewhere in physicality and commitment with home scrum half, Conor Duignan being a constant thorn to Dalziel in all phases of the game. With the lead changing hands three times during the first forty minutes, the good sized crowd were kept fully engaged. The indefatigable Hills hooker, Harry Perston, scored the first try with stand off Rory Harte converting, who then added a penalty; home captain, Owen Gemmell, who led by example throughout, scored the next, a fine individual try after a lung bursting run from fully forty five metres ; and the final try of the first half was a touchdown at the foot of the posts from home no. 8, Ryan Reilly with Harte again kicking the conversion. This try and conversion was perhaps the most significant one of the game in that it eased to the Hills to within four points of their opponents who, by the thirty eighth minute, had established an eleven points lead.
The second half found Hills hitting downhill towards the Gartnavel end of the ground and the game’s physical intensity did not abate. Hills, however, remained resolute with Dalziel suffering from some injuries which blunted their efforts both at the breakdown and in midfield. Quick thinking from loose head prop, Mark Barrowman at the front of a close range line out, produced a drive over try which Rory Harte again converted. Mid-field paralysis then ensued for a twenty minute spell in which neither side could gain any advantage, but eventually Hills perseverance and quickness in moving the ball into the wide channels paid off with flying winger, Jamie Maddox, racing over unopposed for a fine try which Harte again converted. The best try, the sixth and final one of the afternoon, came again down the right hand channel where Jamie Maddox was put into space. He gathered his chip kick ahead, but was then tackled. Replacement back, James Lowry, was available, however, to scoop up the loose ball and pass onto the unmarked Scott Halliday to crash over the line. Rory Harte again converted and Hills had added some twenty one unanswered points. The game was not yet ever as Dalziel attacked with a ferocity to try to gain themselves a four try bonus counter, but they were repelled and the final whistle blew.
Hills take to the road again with their next fixture being in Aberdeen against Gordonians with a 15.30 KO. Travel arrangements to follow.
Hills 1st XV Squad: Craig Colvin, Jamie Maddox, Scott Busby (James Lowry), Scott Halliday, Darren Knox, Rory Harte, Conor Duignan, Mark Barrowman, Harry Perston (Harry Singh), Maurice Adams (Blair Mackenzie), Jonny Kinniburgh (Martin Malone), Bill Kenny, Conor Ferguson, Ryan Reilly and Owen Gemmell (C)
Report: Bernie Mitchell
Pictures: Iain Dewar