Author: Bernie Mitchell

West End Derby First Leg to Accies

Hillhead/Jordanhill 15pts Glasgow Academicals 25pts

The minute’s silence to mark the sad passing of former “Accie” and “Hawk” Steve Begley had been dutifully observed by the goodish crowd for this west end derby game before hostilities broke out on the field.

The visitors came at the Hills with such attacking fury that referee Rab McHendry was required to penalise four separate home players in the first five minutes for defensive transgressions. Accies were rewarded for their opening burst with a well struck penalty goal, but then the game settled down to a format which lasted for the rest of the fixture:  Accies with their attacking flair trying to play a high octane game but being compromised ultimately by poorish final handling, while Hills adopted a much more pragmatic approach via limited movement of first phase ball and quick recycling. Their main attacking weapon was left winger, Jimmy Griffith, whose explosive pace and power, was Hills principal attacking force all game. The Hills had the bulk of territorial pressure in the first half and second rower, Bill Kenny, scored a fine try by running in unopposed from the twenty two after dummying everyone including his own team. Rory Harte converted and were looking good for their seven points to three lead but a lapse of concentration on the stroke of half time allowed Accies their way back with an unconverted try to lead by the one point at the interval.

The next score would be critical to the final outcome and it went the way of the visitors who now had an eight point lead. But stirring, driving play from both Hills second rowers, Bill Kenny and Chris “Warlock” Warnock, brought the home team back into it with a good penalty goal from Rory Harte. But injuries to Conor Duignan, a harsh carding of Jimmy Griffith for a technical offence and increasing frailty on the touch line with three attacking line outs lost in the opposition twenty two, all conspired to deflate the Hills. Accies attacked as they had done all game and scored two further tries to lead by twenty five points to ten into the final quarter. Hills had their chances, however, with both wingers, Jimmy Griffith and Graham Davidson, prominent in two fast counter attacking individual moves, but neither could be finished with a try. As it was, Hills spirited play kept them going to the final move of the game when Davidson finished off a fine left to right move with a try.  Accies then left Hughenden with five points from this National league 3 fixture, while Hills have yet to gather in any from their first three games.

Next Saturday the 23rd September finds Hills taking to the M9 for a trip to Inverness to play Highland, KO 15.00. The team bus will leave Hughenden at 10.00 prompt.

Hills 1st XV Squad: Scott Busby, Jamie Maddox (Graham Davidson), Robbie Williamson, James Lowry, Jimmy Griffith, Rory Harte, Conor Duignan (Jamie Maddox), Mark Barrowman (Ross Jackson), Harry Perston, (Blair Mackenzie) Maurice Adams (Ross Jackson), Chris Warnock(C), Bill Kenny, Conor Ferguson (Martin Malone), Ryan Reilly and Owen Gemmell.

Hills 2AXV Win in the Whitecraigs Sun

Whitecraigs 2XV 26pts Hillhead/Jordanhill 2AXV 44pts

Following a debated draw in the 2A’s league opener last week, this bonus point win at Whitecraigs was well deserved. It came about due to some excellent teamwork under the watchful eyes of newly appointed manager Ian McLennagham and the travelling touch judge, Andrew Scott (snr), who patrolled the pitch side with his customary efficiency. For his next tour of duty, the Club will endeavour to ensure Andy carries his flag with him.

There were some good individual performances. Up front, returning Douglas Elder was very accomplished, running well with ball in hand and working hard in all phases of the game. His three tries were just reward for a fine afternoon’s toil away from the demands of Curriculum for Excellence. Sean Smith at stand off led the line well with good distribution from hand and, early on in the game, steady goal kicking.

Hills benefitted from a good understanding of the structures of the modern game although those on the touchline, unfamiliar with some of the team calls, remained bemused as to the number of wild beasts that were believed to be wandering in the open fields of Renfrewshire.

It was a good outcome then for this squad, at this level of the domestic game. It is those players with the better fitness levels who will prevail throughout the season. The improved attendance at training does undoubtedly help.

1st XV Provide Better Performance Despite Loss

Murrayfield Wanderers 57pts Hillhead/Jordanhill 12pts

The casual media observer might see the above and conclude that Hills were once again soundly beaten and any promised resurgence is a mere pipe dream. Well to them and others, this “scribbler” would like to report that quantitatively (re: the scoreline) that would be true, but on evidence viewed from the touchline, it would be unfair. The Wanderers were quite the best, well organised and fit team that the Hills have played since they faced a rampant Marr back in the heady days of Premier 2 rugby. The game was set up for MW with fine overhead playing conditions and underfoot, the lush Murrayfield turf, which allowed for a jet paced game that the Hills fully embraced in counter, but just could not quite contain.

Murrayfield were fast, resourceful, direct and importantly, very experienced. This was a relevant fact given the youthful nature of some of the Hills squad, yet the visitors kept their defensive formation and line speed, tackled hard throughout and when able, took the game to the opposition. Specific mention should be made of the rumbustious wing play of Jimmy Griffiths and the driving play in the loose of Chris “Warlock” Warnock, the captain for the night who set a fine example. Another player to catch the eye was last season’s Jordanhill School boy, Ciaran Callaghan, who showed good footballing skills throughout, converting Mo Adams short range try from the left hand touch line. This was no mean feat for a left sided player. He also scored a last minute try for Hills when Murrayfield had been reduced to thirteen players.

Although the half time score was 31-0 to the home side, there was never any chance of a capitulation or rout, since the Hills spirit in the squad kept them going well throughout, and indeed the second half score line of 26-12 speaks well of their resilience and resolve in the face of significant odds. This was some game, and a hard shift for all the visiting squad. One player remarked: “Last week’s game against St. Boswells was a stroll in the park compared to this.”

Next Saturday at Hughenden there is the only Glasgow derby in National League 3 when Hills play their old rivals Glasgow Accies, with a 15:00 KO. The Hills are worthy of support. There is a pre-match lunch at 13:00 for 13:15 and all are invited. To book a place please contact us at events@hjrfc.com

Hills 1st XV Squad: Craig Colvin (Ciaran Callaghan), Ciaran Callaghan (Jonny Kinniburgh), Scott Busby, James Lowry, Jimmy Griffith (Conor Duignan), Robbie Williamson, Conor Duignan (Darren Knox), Mark Barrowman (Ross Jackson), Harry Perston, Blair Mackenzie (Maurice Adams), Chris Warnock (C), Bill Kenny, Conor Ferguson, Ryan Reilly (Jonny Kinniburgh) and Scott McMillan.

Hills Ladies Hit a Ton

Hillhead Jordanhill Women 1st XV 115 — 0 Cartha QP Women 1st XV

On a wonderful early autumnal evening under the Hughenden floodlights, the Hilljills showcased their full range of running and handling skills to blow away their plucky south side rivals.

For the record, the Hilljills were fifty-five points up at halftime. If there had been a scoreboard operator, she would have been sorely fatigued by the end of the proceedings.

In these situations it can be invidious to pick out individuals in what was a fine team performance, but the twinkling feet of Hilljills’ centres, Hannah Smith and Abi Evans, generated some twelve tries.

The McMillan sisters, Siobhan with her direct running and captain Louise with her sheer athleticism, also caught the eye.

Abi Evans stretches for the line.

Unfortunately, scrum-half, Mairi McDonald, caught something else, a flying elbow, which flattened the “Mighty Atom” and led to the Cartha transgressor being red carded.

Mention also should be made of the goal kicking skills of Mairi McDonald and Ally Cook, who between them converted ten of the nineteen tries.

After this try fest, Hilljills play again on Friday 8th September at 20:00 against visitors Stewartry Sirens from Castle Douglas.

Team: S. McMillan, L. Smith, H. Lockhart, G. Keys, J. Johnston, H. Telling, K. McConnell, L. McMillan, M. McDonald, S. Smith, A. Evans, L. Willis, A. Jane, D. Falconer, F. Wood, S. Kyalinkunda, A. Cook, L. Mils

Words by Bernie Mitchell and photos by David Whyte

Hills Fall Away After Bright Opening

A bright opening quarter from “Hills”, playing down the Hughenden slope, promised much given the quality scrummage possession their front row produced, but lack of composure close to the St. Boswells try line was to cost the home side dearly. As it was, the visitors stole away upfield and, in one of the their few visits to the “Hills “ twenty two, picked and drove with good effect to score near the posts to allow an easy conversion. To their credit, under the forceful direction of captain Owen Gemmell, the “HiIls” came back into it and camped in the visitors danger area. After some “heavy lifting “ and “hard yards” with second rower, Chris Warnock, very prominent, sufficient space was found on the blind side to allow scrum half Conor Duignan to scamper over from close range. The conversion was missed and the lack of a first choice goal kicker was to return later to compromise the “Hills” all round efforts with four kickable penalties being turned down for scrummages. St. Boswells proved adept, however, at turning defence quickly into attack, and their quick thinking stand-off, David Cassidy, found space to fashion a second try for the visitors. The half time score found St. Boswells ahead by twelve points to five, but given the territorial advantage and pressure “Hills” had produced, many felt that the score flattered the visitors.

The third quarter saw the visitors consolidate their lead through a smartly taken drop goal from Cassidy, although “Hills” should have done better when Graham Davidson threatened after a mazy forty metre run. The start of the final quarter found “Hills” pressing hard in the opposition half and, after a series of penalties given against the visitors for transgressions at the breakdown, referee Ramsay stirred himself to issue yellow cards in quick succession to two of the Borderers. “Hills” immediately took advantage by driving over from a close range scrummage, captain Owen Gemmell being credited with the score. But lack of game awareness and an unwillingness to take the option of kicking for the corner to allow their line out to drive and maul, was to prove the “Hills” achilles heel. Poor ball retention handed possession back to St. Boswells and the final few minutes were played in the home half. Any hope of a last hurrah was dashed when home no. 8 Ryan Reilly was yellow carded for persistent offences at the breakdown.

The final outcome was disappointing given the scrummage dominance “Hills” held throughout. But the squad can consider the overall improvements in the intensity of their performance compared to season 2016/2017 as being the basis for taking matters forward in their next few games. “Hills” play next at Murrayfield on FRIDAY the 8th September with a 20.00 KO . The game has been moved as Hearts FC play at the national stadium on the Saturday.

Hillhead/Jordanhill 1st XV 10 points St. Boswells 1st XV 25pts

“Hills” 1st XV – Craig Colvin, Jamie Maddox, James Reekie, Scott Busby (Scott McMillan), Graham Davidson, Robbie Williamson, Conor Duignan, Mark Barrowman (Ross Jackson), Harry Perston, Blair MacKenzie (Maurice Adams), Chris Warnock, Bill Kenny, Conor Ferguson (Jonny Kinniburgh), Ryan Reilly, Owen Gemmell (C).

Report by Bernie Mitchell
Photos by Hamish Adamson