Category: The Bunnet

Hills hold on at Haddington

Haddington 10 pts Hillhead/Jordanhill 13 pts    

The opening twenty minutes of this game saw Hills all over their opposition at the picturesque Mill Wynd ground in East Lothian, but unfortunately try as hard as they might, scoring, apart from a Euan Brown penalty goal, eluded them. Line outs were not a reliable source of possession and patience in building phases, so necessary in the modern game, temporarily deserted them.

Calmness was indeed in short supply, as Haddington, having had a player yellow carded after ten minutes, then saw the same man dismissed for a second offence after thirty five minutes of play. For Hills, however, the going seemed to get tougher as the match wore on. Indeed, if it had not been for the Gallic trickery of left Winger, Arnaud Bauchet, the Hills would have been in a sorry state. Five minutes into the second half, he found space in the narrowest of channels to thread his way over the line for a wonderful individual try. Some ten minutes later, better was to come when Scott Halliday picked up a loose ball and burst powerfully for the home twenty two where he linked well with second rower, James Acheson, who committed two defenders before off loading to Arnaud, the wing wizard, who dived majestically over the line.

At thirteen points ahead and approaching the final quarter,  Hills should have been in easy street against their numerically understrength hosts, but nerves got the better of them. Apart from two Jimmy Griffith bursts and some occasional mazy running from Rory Harte,  Hills lost their shape and momentum, and Haddington got firmly on top. Their physically stronger forwards began to drive the line outs and scored two successive close range tries. Crucially, however, neither was converted, and the last five minutes of the contest was nerve shredding for the players and their small band of supporters. Somehow Hills defied the red waves of Haddington shirts that piled forward relentlessly at them to keep their line intact. Their joy and elation at hanging on for the win was palpable, as was the frustration of the home support.

This win concluded the first round of games in National league three with six wins from the eleven scheduled. Hills return to the highways again next Saturday, the 9th December, for their return fixture against St. Boswells in the Borders to whom they have already lost twice this season, both league and cup. An improvement in form will be required to record a win in the Borders stronghold.

Hills 1st XV: Craig Colvin, Jimmy Griffith , Scott Halliday (Robbie Williamson) ,Euan Brown , Arnaud Bauchet, Rory Harte, Dan Williams, Mark Barrowman (Maurice Adams), Harry Perston (Harry Singh), Maurice Adams (Ross Jackson), James Acheson, Bill Kenny, James Reekie, Scott McMillan (Helian Bourrel), Conor Ferguson (C), Subs all used.

Text & Picture: Bernie Mitchell

2A’s Harvest on the Last Play

Dalziel 3rdXV 29 points Hillhead/Jordanhill 2AXV 33 points

This was a very enjoyable, closely contested game played on a very firm pitch at the Clelland estate in Motherwell. For most of the game, Hills struggled again a much more physical home pack who were well drilled in the short range line out driving mauls. Indeed, Hills had to exist on scraps of first phase possession. Legendre was the main source of line out balls, while scrum half, Bolster, struggled at times with an uneven heel from the set piece.

It didn’t look good for the Hills at halftime, despite some strong running from Stevens which produced a penalty try and then a close range effort from Michaud. Dalziel, ten points up at the interval (22-12), had benefited from numerous penalties, using their number 10 long-range kicking to bring them in range for their mauling game. Dalziel continued to drive hard at the Hills, but the superior conditioning of the visitors paid off eventually in the final quarter.

Thanks to the wonderful surgical skills of flyhalf Crome, who carved up the home midfield with a fine defence splitting run, Hills were able to establish some attacking options in the Dalziel half. Quick movement of the ball through the hands allowed both visiting wingers to extend the home defence, but the searing pace of Mitchell and “Bambi” Davidson proved too much for Dalziel and both scored fine tries, with Davidson converting both to take the score to twenty nine points to twenty six with only sixty seconds left to play.

During the last play, Mitchell switched his line of running to set up an attacking ruck in the Dalziel twenty two. Veteran replacement prop, Richardson, officiating in second row, tidied up, then picked and drove at the splintered Dalziel fringe defence laying back a superb ball for Andy Bolster to uplift and scamper unopposed to the line. Winger Davidson added the extras and the final whistle blew. The Hills squad was ecstatic, while the Dalziel squad were dejected, having just lost a game they had been ahead in for seventy nine minutes. Fair result ? Maybe “Aye”, maybe “Naw”. The beauty and aesthetic of sport!!

End of National Cup Run for the Hills

Hillhead/Jordanhill 10 points     St. Boswells 27 points

For parts of this second round BT National Cup tie, particularly in the first half, Hills were very much the equal of their visitors from the Borders, but unfortunately the spells of continuity rugby they were able to generate were limited. St. Boswell were much more adept at taking their chances and indeed were ruthless, seizing on some frailties in Hills defence on three occasions to score tries. The first was from a close range driven line out ; the second was from a charge down of a brave attempt to kick out of defence, while the third came from poorish first up tackling.

St. Boswells fourth try and final score of the evening which, astonishingly, came in the 38th minute of the first half resulted from an opportunistic break from the visitors twenty two right down the middle of the field with a final chip kick over the despairing Hills defence for the touchdown. Among all of that, Rory Harte displayed his faultless line kicking from hand, making prodigious ground when St. Boswells offended at the breakdown. Unfortunately, Hills could not kick on quickly enough from these field positions. Dan Williams scored a wonderful solo try, his first for the Hills, from the base of a ruck and Euan Brown added the conversion to his earlier penalty goal.

Kicking down the slope in the second half, Hills, seventeen points adrift, would have expected to take the game to their visitors, but apart from some typical dashes from Jimmy Griffith on the right wing, some effective ball carrying from replacement prop, Ross Fergusson, and occasional bursts of aggressive scrummaging, nothing changed on the scoreboard. Even when St. Boswells were reduced to fourteen for a technical offence, Hills huffed and puffed but failed to make any significant inroads into a resolute Borders defence. St. Boswells,without too much difficulty, held onto their second half lead to see them comfortably through to round 3 of the BT National Cup on the 10th February 2018. Hills will play St. Boswells again on the 9th December but this time away in the Borders. Before then, however, they are on the road to Haddington when the National league programme resumes on the 2nd December.

Hills 1st XV: Craig Colvin, Jimmy Griffith, Scott Halliday, Euan Brown ( Scott Busby ), Arnaud Bauchet, Rory Harte ( Euan Brown ), Dan Williams, Ross Jackson ( Ross Fergusson ), Harry Singh ( Preston McGoldrick ), Maurice Adams ( Ryan Williamson ), James Acheson, Chris Warnock, James Reekie, Ryan Reilly, Owen Gemmell ( C ) ( Scott McMillan ) Subs all used.

Hills Continue Their Progress

Hillhead/Jordanhill 31 points Ardrossan Accies 19 points

By defeating their visitors, Ardrossan Accies by two goals, one try and four penalty goals to two goals and one try, Hills continued their steady progress of late in recording their fifth National league victory in six games, prior to the close down for the Autumnal Internationals. Yet the opening to the game did little for the nervous dispositions of the home support, such was the visitors attacking flair that they rattled on two tries before Hills awoke in the pleasant late autumnal sunshine that had temporarily sent them to sleep. Stand off, Rory Finn Harte, was the home catalyst, energising his colleagues with his vision and his range of kicking skills. The first try came from his well placed up and under to the visitors’ twenty two. Such was the power of follow up from James Reekie, revelling in his new role as blind side flanker, that the ball broke loose to be snapped up by centre Euan Brown who crossed the line unopposed to touch down. He converted his own try and that was Hills up and running for the next twenty five minutes when they dominated possession and territory. Their second try was a Harte trademark, a high hanging kick to the open side wing where Jimmy Griffith controlled the ball well to flop over the line ; Brown converted this one immaculately from the right hand touchline. The third try began deep in the Hills twenty two with Brown breaking quickly. Good driving play from captain Owen Gemmell, continued by the hard working second rower, Bill Kenny, a constant source of danger with ball in hand, produced well won breakdown ball. The forward momentum was continued by the flying left winger, Ciaran Callaghan, who ran hard for the line. Another series of rucks rewarded James Reekie with a close range try. Euan Brown finished off the first half scoring with a well struck penalty goal and Hills had added twenty two unanswered points in a thirty minute dominant spell.

Many in the home support thought that Hills, now kicking down the slope to the Gartneval end of the ground, would extend their lead easily, but their Ayrshire visitors had other ideas. Although home wingers Jimmy Griffith and Ciaran Callaghan continued to ring alarm bells in the Ardrossan defence each time they had the ball, Hills, try as hard as they might, did not cross the line again, such was the determination of the Ayrshire defence. But there were chances particularly when Bill Kenny had the ball twice in open space, but no support runners could reach him and the attacks fizzled out. Hills relied for scoreboard progress on the unerring right boot of Euan Brown, who kicked three second half penalty goals to take his personal tally to nineteen points for his afternoon’s work. Ardrossan to their credit did come back into with a well worked try from their open field runners which was converted, but brave HiIls defence in the last ten minutes of the game stopped them for adding to their score, and closed them out from gaining a losing bonus point.

This was a well contested club game between two well prepared sides who gave their all in a very open fixture. There is only one game during the next three weeks of the autumn Internationals. Hills entertain St. Boswells in the second round of the BT National Cup at Hughenden on FRIDAY the 17th November with a 20.00 KO.

Hills 1st XV: Craig Colvin, Jimmy Griffith (Scott McMillan), Scott Halliday,Euan Brown, Ciaran Callaghan, Rory Harte, Dan Williams, Mark Barrowman, Harry Perston (Harry Singh), Maurice Adams (Ross Fergusson), Bill Kenny, Chris Warnock, James Reekie, Conor Ferguson (Ryan Reilly), Owen Gemmell (C) Subs all used.

Report: Bernie Mitchell
Pictures: Hamish Adamson

Lest We Forget

Given the constant churn in the number of players and their guests who use Hughenden as their playing/social base, it would not be surprising if some were not fully aware of the origins of our Club. There is sufficient historical material on the main Sports Club website – www.hillheadsportsclub.com – to satisfy anyone who wishes to know more. Briefly, it can be stated that the grounds at Hughenden and the Memorial pavilion were opened on the 24th May 1924 and the tablets which can be seen at the pitch end of the Yill hoose ( Sports bar ) were inscribed with the names of those from Hillhead High School, staff and pupils, who lost their lives during the Great War ; a further panel was added in 1948 to commemorate those lost during World War 2.

As we approach this year’s Remembrance Sunday, the 12th November, we shall hear once again at services the familiar words of the WW1 poets – Binyon, Sassoon, McSorley, Brooke, Graves etc. – which many of us have grown up with. No less eloquent or memorable are some of the words spoken by the Very Rev. Dr. John Smith, when he dedicated the WW1 panel in 1924. He said :

“When, as is natural enough with the passage of years , we incline to take Hughenden for granted simply as our ground, we should do well to ponder on the toll of youth that was its price. Only their renown has come back to us , but their names are deeply graven on the tablets of memory”.

Boxes for donations to the Earl Haig Poppy Fund can be found at the café ground floor bar and also at the bar on the first floor.

Bernie

Hills Unconvincing Win Against Brave Orkney Side

Hillhead/Jordanhill 31 points Orkney 25 points

While taking nothing away from a very brave Orkney side, which kept competing for the full eighty minutes, the Hills players and their supporters were left somewhat underwhelmed by their own performance. When they managed to pass the ball well through the hands, two excellent tries were scored. First of all debut full back, Euan Brown, opened out from his own twenty two, sensing the visitors were thin on their right flank. Stand off Rory Harte linked effectively to put left winger Ciaran Callaghan away to scamper unimpeded for fully sixty metres and backed up well to take the offload to run in behind the posts. Then the combative James Lowry broke from deep to set up Callaghan with his own scoring opportunity which he finished off clinically by rounding two opponents to touch down. Euan Brown converted one of the tries and added three penalty goals to take Hills to twenty one points to thirteen at the interval, Orkney having scored a try out wide which was unconverted, but succeeded with two penalties from Adam Watt.

From a Hills viewpoint, the second period would best be described as dysfunctional, such were their difficulties experienced in generating any pace or combined intensity in their play. Certainly one of the reasons for the absence of any fluency was Orkney’s strength and obstinacy in both the contact area and the breakdown, where the visitors were able to slow down Hills delivery and frustrate them. But the principal reason for the discomfort was poor execution of basic skills, which saw overlaps squandered and passing moves halted due to handling errors and poor ball retention. As it was, it took a good break through the middle of the field from second rower, Bill Kenny, to restore smiles to the faces of the Hills supporters when he touched down between the posts. Brown’s right boot added a further five second half points. For a club which began its travel at 22.30 on the Friday evening ferry from Stromness to Aberdeen, Orkney’s second half resilience was remarkable. Their two late tries, one from an interception, left Watt their kicker with a conversion from in front of the posts to give them their losing bonus point. He obliged to send his side on their long journey home with something for their endeavours. Orkney deserved it; Hills, if they had managed to fall over the line for their fourth and try bonus point, would have been embarrassed.

At fulltime, Hills head coach, Dean Kelbrick, was less than impressed with his side’s efforts. Certainly a much better all round performance will be required to defeat Ardrossan, who have been something of a bogey side to the Hills in recent league seasons, in the next NL 3 game. The fixture kicks off at 14.00 next Saturday, the 4th November, at Hughenden.

Hills 1st XV: Euan Brown, Dan Williams, James Lowry (Jimmy Griffith), Scott Halliday, Ciaran Callaghan, Rory Harte, Darren Knox, Mark Barrowman (Ross Jackson), Harry Perston (Harry Singh), Blair Mackenzie (Mark Barrowman), Helian Bourrel (Ryan Reilly), Bill Kenny, James Reekie, Conor Ferguson, Owen Gemmell (C) Subs all used.

Hills Sink On A Slaister Of a Day

Newton Stewart 45 points Hillhead/Jordanhill 3 points  

Instead of the taping and line out “blocks” which the “Hills” players had as protection for playing in this National league match transferred from the Bladnock park to the fastness of the Ladies Walk pitch in Stranraer, it would have been no surprise to see them all wearing lifebelts, such was the intensity of the rain which fell unrelentingly for the whole of the game. Even with these buoyancy aids, it is doubtful if they would have assisted “Hills” survival, as Newton Stewart played with a potency and physicality at contact and breakdown which their visitors found hard to match for the whole eighty minutes.

Certainly the narrow pitch suited the “home team’s” more direct approach which relied on the constant battering and softening up of both the fringe and the midfield defence to make progress, while “Hills” attempted to play a wider, faster offload game. Unfortunately, “Hills” forward pack struggled to move their heavier opponents in the set scrum and their line out stuttered for reliability, apart from Bill Kenny’s efforts at No. 2 jumper.  Hence the lack of real consistent go forward ball and both overhead and underfoot conditions combined to affect the visitors more than they had reason to anticipate given their recent good form.

“Hills” tried hard, but found the “hard yards” and the Newton Stewart defence difficult to penetrate.  Scott Halliday, both in attack and defensive chores, tried manfully, but Rory Harte’s play book of tricks suffered from the wet conditions, his clever grubber kicks foundering in the pools of casual water.  He did, however, convert a penalty from forty metres for his side’s only score.  Both “Harrys”, Singh and Perston, gave it their best shot(s), but “Hills” trip to the south west will be remembered only for the extreme weather conditions experienced both during the game and the bus journey there and back.

Hopefully better conditions will prevail for the visit of Orkney next Saturday the 28th October. To accommodate the visitors onerous travel arrangements, this game will kick off at 11.00. A brunch will be served in the Clubhouse from 09.45. To book, please contact events@hjrfc.com.

“Hills“ 1st XV:  Scott Busby,  Arnaud Bauchet,  Robbie Williamson, Scott Halliday, Graham Davidson (Ruairidh Mayes), Rory Harte (C),  Craig Colvin, Mark Barrowman (Ross Jackson), Harry Singh (Harry Perston), Blair Mackenzie (Ross Fergusson), Helian Bourrel, Bill Kenny, James Reekie , Conor Ferguson, Alex Armstrong.  Subs all used.

Bernie “The Bunnet” Mitchell

Hills Good for Three in a Row

Hillhead/Jordanhill 24 points Perthshire 15 points

This was a closely contested game against a tenacious hardworking Perthshire side, who would feel justifiably aggrieved that they left the field without a bonus point which their play deserved. As it was, the Hills outscored their visitors by four tries to two, and enjoyed the bulk of the territorial possession, but could not finish as often as their lead up play would have suggested.

Hills had to thank again their scrummage, who collectively were technically superior to a much bigger and heavier Perthshire pack, for some go forward ball ; but their line out stuttered badly throughout the whole game, and was a far from reliable source of first phase possession. The fine line kicking of stand –off, Rory “Finn” Harte, which regularly produced gains of some fifty metres from penalties, was not followed with the retention of possession to allow the Hills to build continuity via repeated phases of play. The Hills therefore had to rely on quick thinking of Rory Harte and the finishing skills and twinkling feet of Arnaud Bauchet on the right wing to make progress, despite the fact both centres, Scott Halliday and Robbie Williamson, ran hard.

Rory Harte linked well from short range with his captain, Owen Gemmell, to score his first try which he converted. Hills’s second try came from his inch perfect kick in open play from left of the posts to the open wing, where Arnaud Bauchet caught the ball and plunged over the line: a wonderful piece of skill from the Hills no.10. Hills third try was franked by Bauchet’s Gallic trickery where he mesmerised the visiting defence to touch down.

Perthshire, for their part, when they put pressure on the home defence, scored two fine tries of their own when playing down hill and reached the half time whistle only five points adrift from the Hills. The second half was altogether a much dourer affair than the first with neither side being able to prise open their opponents, although the visitors edged closer with a well struck Bowater penalty. It took Hills well into the final quarter of the game to make sure of victory when Rory Harte pounced on a Perthshire mistake when they suicidally tried to run from within the shadow of their own posts only to lose the ball. Harte’s conversion took his side nine points ahead with only five minutes left, and despite the visitors valiant efforts they were unable to get closer for a losing bonus point. Unfortunately in the last frantic few minutes Hills no.8, Ryan Reilly received his second yellow card of the game and his presence on the field may well now be restricted for a few weeks.

This was Hills third consecutive National league win, a feat which the Club have not managed since season 2009-2010 when they were promoted from the “old” Premier 3 division. Their next game is in the far South West at the Bladnock pitches of Newton Stewart. Four in a row is possible but all components of Hills game will require to be in good order to prosper at this difficult venue.

Hills 1st XV: Ciaran Callaghan, Arnaud Bauchet, Robbie Williamson, Scott Halliday, Jamie Maddox, Rory Harte, Darren Knox (James Reekie), Mark Barrowman, Harry Perston (Harry Singh), Blair Mackenzie (Ross Fergusson), James Acheson, Bill Kenny, Conor Ferguson (Martin Malone), Ryan Reilly, Owen Gemmell (C) Subs all used.

HillJills’ Relentless Display

Hillhead/Jordanhill 64 Murrayfield Wanderers 5

For anyone not attending the game at Hughenden on Sunday 8th of October, the final score would indicate a one-sided game. The reality, however, for the sizeable crowd who were entertained for the full eighty minutes was of a Wandies side who ran, tackled hard and never gave up but were ultimately overwhelmed by the Hilljills squad who all played as if their lives depended on defeating their long time domestic rivals from Edinburgh. For the record, the Hilljills scored ten tries with seven converted with Wandies touching down in the first half.

The early injury to stand-off, Sarah Smith, might have upset some sides but it seemed to galvanise Louise McMillan and her squad who wasted no time in running at the opposition, offloading and always seeking to use the ball in the wider channels. Coaches Thomas Davidson, Morgan Martin and Tonci Buzov must have been delighted to see how well the ball was passed and this incessant pressure ultimately produced gaps in the visitors’ defence which were quickly exploited by the ruthless Hilljills. First half tries came from Nicole Pike, Louise McMillan, Abi Evans and Amanda Moore with full back Amanda converting two. Wandies scored their only try in a rare break out in this half. Six further tries were recorded in the second forty minutes with Louise McMillan adding a further four (five in total-outstanding), her sister Siobhan with one and Abi Evans crossing for her second. Five of these were converted.

In what was a wonderful team performance it would be invidious to pick out any individuals for special mention but it would be remiss not to mention one or two of the home squad. Discretion might persuade the report not to use the term “veteran” but returning scrum half Rachael Whyte on her contribution to the squad reminded all watching of her distribution skills; second rower Jenny Johnston set up go forward ball to very good effect and tight head prop, Heather Lockhart, displayed all the skills which her long career in the women’s game have honed. Birthday girl Aimee Watson did everything but score a try such was her determination to be involved in everything that was good about her side’s performance.

Hilljills now remain unbeaten after their first six league games. A wonderful afternoon of women’s rugby completing a great weekend for the club with 4 wins from 4 for the men’s and women’s senior teams over the weekend.

Hillhead/Jordanhill 64 Murrayfield Wanderers 5
Scorers: Tries-Louise McMillan 5, Abi Evans 2, Nicole Pike, Siobhan McMillan and Amanda Moore
Conversions-Amanda Moore 7

Hillhead/Jordanhill Squad: Siobhan McMillan, Lindsey Smith, Heather Lockhart, Georgie Keys, Jemmy Johnston, Hannah Telling. Kirsty McConnell, Louise McMillan (c), Rachael Whyte, Sarah Smith, Nicole Pike, Abi Evans, Andrea Gaffney, Aimee Watson, Amanda Moore, Marta Estelles Chaparro, Stella Kyalikunda, Fiona Dorman, Emma Barlow, Hannah McHugh.

More photographs by the excellent @craigwatsonpix HERE

The remaining fixture in Premier League Round 1 before the split is away against Ayr on Sunday 22nd October.

Hills Dim the Northern Lights

Gordonians 27 points Hillhead/Jordanhill 31 points

This was a tremendous advert for National League 3 rugby, played on the well manicured open spaces of Countesswells in Aberdeen. It could be described fairly as a classic game of two halves, with Hills, initially playing with the breeze, racing to a twenty-four to ten points margin at halftime, and then defending desperately in the final quarter, as Gordonians fought their way back from a thirty-one points to ten score line after fifty minutes to take it to the wire at no side in this enervating watch. The four points margin of Hills success came down to one fact : Rory Harte, who enjoyed a commanding game for Hills in the pivot slot, kicked all his conversions while Gordonian’s left sided goal kicker failed narrowly from the extreme left side pitch positions where his forwards had heaved themselves over the line.

Both sides expressed their attacking intent from the start with the ball being moved into the open field, and it took a tremendous tackle from Hills no 8, Ryan Reilly, to present the visitors with their first opportunity. The ball, dislodged from the tackle, was scooped up by Rory Harte who hared for the try line some eighty metres distant, and just made it to touch down between the posts. The conversion from in front of the posts just staggered across the crossbar, but the stand off’s second kick, a penalty from thirty metres out, was more convincing and Hills were up and running, the tiredness of their bus journey behind them. Left winger, Ciaran Callaghan, finished well from fifteen metres – his fourth National League try in three games – and Rory Harte benefitted from some unusual Aberdonian generosity when he was passed the ball by a Gordonian in open space. The quick thinking stand-off required no further invitation, and he raced in unopposed to touch down for his second try of the game. Both these tries were converted, and Hills had a healthy half time lead.

This was extended in the third quarter when open side wing forward, Conor Ferguson, plunged over from close range with Harte again adding his goal points. But from then, the whole momentum of the game changed. Hills were clearly disrupted by injuries – Blair Mackenzie left with leg damage, Captain Owen Gemmell experienced shoulder issues and scrum half Conor Duignan, who had a fine all round game, was concussed. Gordonians wisely played a territorial game based on thunderous clearances from their own half into the Hills twenty two. These disruptions caused Hills to lose their way on the touchline and Gordonians were ruthless in driving the lineout maul which, when stopped, allowed their front row to showcase their pick and drive drills. Trying hard to play the game in the Gordonians half, the Hills just managed to hold on for the final fifteen minutes to record a famous away win. This was a fine performance by the nineteen who travelled, and enjoyed thoroughly by the small group of supporters and much more widely by the Hills diaspora via social media.

Hills now play Perthshire at home on Saturday the 14th with a 15.00 KO. There is the pre-match lunch with tickets via events@hjrfc.com . It is hoped this recent return to form will generate a good support. A close game is in prospect with Perthshire also showing some good form.

Hills 1st XV Scott Busby, Darren Knox (Arnaud Bauchet), Robbie Williamson, Scott Halliday, Ciaran Callaghan, Rory Harte, Conor Duignan (Darren Knox), Ross Jackson (Blair Mackenzie), Blair Mackenzie (Harry Singh), Mark Barrowman, James Acheson (Chris Warnock), Bill Kenny, Conor Ferguson, Ryan Reilly, Owen Gemmell (C) (Scott McMillan) Subs all used.