Author: Andy Scott

Hills Stumble to Defeat in Last Home Game

Hillhead/Jordanhill 15 pts West of Scotland 39 pts

On a wonderfully sunny and warm day for flowing rugby, this was a disappointing outcome to end “Hills” home fixtures in National league 2 for season 2016/2017. As in previous games, there were periods when “Hills” won good first phase possession, retained the ball and worked through the phases to gain territorial advantage. But on too many occasions, visitors West were able to make easy inroads through the home defence to score some relatively straightforward  tries.

“Hills” had a good first quarter initially containing a lively opening from their visitors and then working their way forward for second rower, Calum Stove, to burst through from twenty five metres to score an unconverted try. This stung West into action and they quickly rattled on three tries by utilising quick passing to and fro across the field to exploit gaps in the home defensive line. But the livewire Ross Thomson at scrum half for the “Hills” made a fine individual break from some thirty metres out to score just to the left of the posts to bring “Hills” closer to their visitors. Unfortunately Darren Knox’s conversion was charged down, leaving the half time score seventeen points to ten in West’s favour.

For the first ten minutes of the third quarter, West looked as if they were going to overwhelm “Hills” by adding another two tries. It was left again however, to scrum half Ross Thompson to shake the “Hills” out of their second half torpor by breaking well from his own half, evading several defenders and then passing onto centre Scott Halliday who made good ground to the West try line where he was tackled despairingly; but just managed to get the ball away to Chris Tulloch who supported well to touch down. That took “Hills” to fifteen points to West’s twenty nine and, for a moment, the home support felt they were back in the hunt. But that was illusory, and West then took full advantage of “Hills” mistakes and poor defensive efforts to add a further uncontested ten points to finish deserved winners by thirty nine points to fifteen.

All of the “Hills” squad can be commended for their hard work and effort to keep going for another eighty minutes of ultimately unrewarding rugby. If there had been a “Hills” man of the match, it would have been awarded to left winger Jamie Maddox, who enjoyed an exemplary afternoon both in defence and attack.

“Hills” conclude Season 2016/2017 with an away fixture at Memorial field, Ardrossan, on Saturday the 1st April. Kick off is 15.00. All supporters very welcome.

“Hills” 1st XV – Darren Knox, Dan Williams, Scott Busby (Graham Davidson), Scott Halliday, Jamie Maddox, Rory Harte, Ross Thomson, Ryan Williamson (Jonny Urquhart), Harry Perston, George Stephenson (Blair Mackenzie), Alec Cameron (Chris Tulloch), Callum Stove, Owen Gemmell (C), Harry Cordner, Ryan Reilly (Alec Cameron). All subs used.

Bernie Mitchell

Ken Wins Warriors Tickets

Pictured against the background of the Sports Club bar at Hughenden after Thursday night’s training are 1st XV captain Owen Gemmell and “Hills” mini rugby Convener,  Ken Grierson.  Ken is receiving two stand tickets for the Warriors game vs Connacht, provided by the committee as a recognition of  service during the season.

Andy Scott, “Hills” President,  noted: “I am delighted that Ken, an outstanding servant to the Club over many years has been given these tickets.  Ken will become a “Hills Legend” on Sunday the 14th May and thereby join the select group of former players and committee members whose service and support over a long number of years is formally acknowledged.”

Hills Continue The Hard Yards at Peebles

Peebles 41 pts Hillhead/Jordanhill 17 pts

The final scoreline in this highly competitive game at the Gytes was tough to take for the “Hills” players, coaches and their small band of travelling supporters. “Hills” competed very well from the kick-off and opened the scoring with a close range try from their captain, Owen Gemmell, well converted by Darren Knox.  The rest of the first period saw “Hills” on the ascendancy in open play, but a misfiring line out proved to be their achilles heel with frequent opportunities to retain possession gifted to the opposition.  Darren Knox countered some late home pressure with a well struck penalty goal from forty metres but Peebles ended the half fifteen points to ten ahead.

The hosts continued to pressurise from the start of the second half, adding some fourteen points in ten minutes;  but the next twenty five minutes of play were very evenly contested with the whole squad working well in defence and putting together some good driving passes of play in which Owen Gemmell provided a fine lead.  It was a just reward for the visitors’ efforts when Jimmy Griffith latched onto a Blair Mackenzie pass, following a Ross Thomson switch,  to cross the line  unopposed and score his fourth national league try in three games.  Stand off Darren Knox added the goal points and at seventeen – twenty nine  the visitors looked like closing  on their hosts,  but a tiring front three  – with Harry Cordner’s early injury and a late call off from the bench there were no front row substitutes – and some unhelpful refereeing decisions militated against any further  fightback. In the last four minutes, Peebles added two further tries to put a considerable gloss on the final scoreboard.

There is no doubt that the last three league games, – Biggar, GHK and now Peebles – have witnessed much improved form from the “Hills” when compared with their early season first round games. The matter is now to repair the fractured line out and stitch all the other components together to  produce the first national league win.

Next home game is Saturday the 4th March when “Hills” play Kelso who are chasing hard for a top promotion spot from National League 2. The game kicks off at 15.00 at Hughenden.

“Hills” 1st XV –  Rory Harte, Jamie Maddox, (James Reekie), Scott Busby, Scott Halliday, Jimmy Griffith, Darren Knox, Ross Thomson, George Stephenson, Harry Perston, Blair Mackenzie, Chris Tulloch (Scott Whitford), Callum Stove, Alec Cameron,  Owen Gemmell (C), Harry Cordner and (Chris Warnock)   All subs used.

Bernie “The Bunnet” Mitchell

This Week’s Identity Parade at Hills

Pictured are this week’s award winners along with Head Coach, Robbie Stewart, and his assistant, Franklin Clark are Harry Cordner (2nd left) and Harry Perston.  Each has been favoured with a voucher for Café Source Too on the HQ’s ground floor.

Robbie Stewart advised: “despite our disappointing  loss last week against GHK, both “Harrys” performed well.  Harry C was consistently  good at the breakdown and also in his No. 8 duties, while Harry P performed excellently in the set scrum”.

Franklin Clark, no mean hooker in his day, was full of praise for Harry P: “Scrum time was wonderful for me.  Seeing Harry strike against the head brought back so many memories.  That part provided a warm glow “.

Cruel Finish to Hills Improved Performance in Derby Game

Hillhead/Jordanhill 10 pts GHK 24 pts

In the first round of matches against GHK, “Hills“ were trounced by sixty four points to twenty one at Old Anniesland, but in the return leg of the West End Derby, the home team were deservedly ahead at half time and fell away only in the last five minutes of what had been a much improved show up till then.

There was then much to applaud in this fine “Hills” performance : left winger Jimmy Griffith’s finishing skills which brought two fine first half tries – it should have been three but for an erroneous  knock on award  – full back Rory Harte’s immaculate fielding of the high ball in blustery conditions; hooker Harry Perston’s four strikes against the head in a very solid scrummaging pack; Blair Mackenzie’s scrummaging both at tight head and then in the second row; Owen Gemmell’s abrasive captaincy and display in the loose;  and the whole teams spirted showing throughout and also their field discipline given some uneven refereeing decisions.

Yet the final analysis saw “Hills” fall just short.  Their half time lead of ten points to five – the first occasion in season 2016-2017 they have been ahead after the first period of play – had been only marginally eroded by an early GHK score in the second period.   The play,  which had few periods of continuity due to frequent blasts of the whistle, raged from end to end and “Hills“ were marginally the favourites on pressure in the final quarter.  But the quicksilver GHK backs and their mercurial 10, Mike Martin,   saw to it that the “win bonuses” would be theirs with a two try burst in the closing five minutes which utterly deflated the “Hills” players and their band of supporters who had been hoping this game would provide their first win. “If only”, one of the most important  phrases  in the English language, might be used about the touchline work of the “Hills”  line-out  which was not dependable, some of the midfield handling might have been crisper and the “Hills” goal kicking. But that is nit picking about a game,  when at last the players and coaches collectively  gave themselves and their Club’s supporters something to feel slightly better about.

So the search for the elusive first victory of the 2016-2017 league campaign moves onto Peebles on the 18th February with a 15.00 KO.      Bus leaves Hughenden  at 12.00 .  All spectators and support welcome.

“Hills” 1st XV –  Rory Harte, Jimmy Griffith, Scott Busby, Scott Halliday, (Jamie Maddox), Dan Williams, Darren Knox, Ross Thomson, Ryan Williamson, (George Stephenson), Harry Perston, Blair Mackenzie, (Callum Kettles), Chris Tulloch, Alec Cameron, Owen Gemmell (C), Ryan Reilly, (Conor Duignan) and Harry Cordner.  All subs used.

Bernie ‘The Bunnet’ Mitchell

Scotland Women vs France Women 6N 11th February 2017

Everyone at Hughenden is delighted to note the recall of Lana Skeldon (@skeldonlana) to the squad of twenty three for the 6 Nations game at La Rochelle this Saturday. All her friends at Hills wish her all the best for her return to the front row and hope all her team mates, including Jade, Heather, Lindsey, Louise and Jemma, can produce their first 6 Nations win.

Lana in action for Scotland
Women’s Six Nations, Wales vs Scotland, Neath, 14/2/2016

Scott Halliday Strikes Gold With 6 Nations Tickets

Pictured in the Sports Club bar is the latest winner, Scott Halliday, of the awards the Club is distributing for effort and commitment during both games and training evenings. The “Hills” 1st XV head coach, Robbie Stewart, in presenting Scott with two stand tickets for the 6 Nations international vs Ireland noted:  “Scott was very prominent  both in attacking and defensive modes in our recent game against Preston Lodge and is very deserving of these tickets“.

Scott was somewhat overwhelmed to receive the gift,  but added: “ It’s great that the Club is encouraging us all  with these awards and the players  are very grateful.”

Owen Gemmell Receives Award From Head Coach Robbie Stewart

Pictured in the Sports Club Bar at Hughenden  are 1st XV back row forward Owen Gemmell and Head Coach, Robbie Stewart. The occasion is the award of a Cafe Source Too voucher to Owen.

Robbie noted: “Owen’s aggressive and dynamic performance last week at Biggar was exactly what we are looking for in our attempt to find that elusive first win in this season’s competition. We need a lot more of that from everyone.”

Owen commented: “We all need to get together to grind out that first win.“

The Hard Slog Continues in the Biggar Sunshine

Biggar 57 points Hillhead/Jordanhill 7 pts

The final scoreline appears very one sided,  but the “ Hills” XV and their bench certainly contributed to a performance which at times during the first half  matched Biggar’s,  but ultimately lacked staying power against the home side’s superior physicality and cohesion.

It will  not be very often that a report from Hartreemill talks up the conditions in which the game was played,  as Biggar’s ground occupies a very exposed location in South Lanarkshire ; but this particular Saturday saw Mother Nature at her finest   with a clear blue sky, warmish sunshine and astonishingly no wind.  Occasionally the “Hills”  performance matched the superb  overhead conditions with forwards and backs combining well to play through the phases,  as their coaches demand.    The final ten minutes of the opening period, which saw hooker Harry Perston harshly sin binned  for an offside,  found the visitors constantly on the attack and they were rewarded for their persistence in the forwards   via Owen Gemmell’s   driving play and scrum half Ross Thomson’s distribution with a James Lowry  try close to the posts which stand off Rory  Harte converted. The half time score of twenty two  points to seven slightly flattered Biggar.

The second period, however,  saw Biggar move away from “Hills”,  as numerous injuries to the visitors disrupted their shape both in attack and defence.  Biggar certainly were ruthless in their exploitation of the “Hills” defence and fairly rattled through  their routines with slick distribution behind the gain line putting their quick runners consistently into space.  Despite some solid defence from, in particular,  Jamie Maddox and Dan Williams , Biggar ran in a  further five tries.  “Hills”  did have occasional forays into the Biggar half, principally through Scott Busby who broke the Biggar line well, but his attack ran out of impetus due to limited support.

“Hills” therefore are still seeking that elusive first win of the season, but there was sufficient spirit and tenacity displayed to suggest that with some luck there may well be dancing in the streets of Hughenden soon.

“Hills” 1st XV –  Dan Williams, Andrew Bolster, Scott Busby, James Lowry,   James Maddox, Rory Harte, Ross Thomson, Ross Andrew, (Callum Kettles), Harry Perston, Blair Mackenzie, (Adam Plunkett), Chris Warnock,  Alec Cameron, (Scott Whiteford), Owen Gemmell (C), Conor Duignan, Ryan Reilly (Harry Cordner).  All subs used.

Bernie ‘The Bunnet’ Mitchell