Tough Shift Up North

Aberdeenshire 63 – 12 Hillhead/Jordanhill

Despite the one sided nature of the final scoreline, there were periods in this game when the Hills dominated territorially, but, as has occurred all too frequently this season, the pressure has not resulted in points for the board. After Aberdeenshire had raced into an early fourteen points to nil advantage, Hills camped in the home twenty two for some fifteen minutes, but to no avail, despite the frequent brave charges of captain Owen Gemmell and second rower, Callum Stove, for the line. “Shoe ins” of kicks at the posts were ignored for glorious but ultimately failed attempts to cross the line. Against a side of Aberdeenshire’s quality, one small mistake can be punished unerringly, and a dropped ball during a Hills attack allowed the home team to lift the siege and race to the far end to score. The only remaining bright note for the small visiting support from the first half was stand off, Rory Harte’s ability to fashion a try from a smart kick, chase and pick up to crash over the line. The half time score of 35-5 reflected the home side’s ability to play efficient, high tempo continuity rugby and ruthlessly put away the opposition.

The second half was almost a carbon copy of the first period: Hills trying desperately hard with good line breaks from Scott Halliday, Jake Hayden and Owen Gemmell, but not having the skills in continuity play to hurt the home team. The Hills score, when it did come, was a penalty try, the referee deeming the defenders did not roll away from a tackle area and thereby impeded the attackers. Praise must go to the home side for their effectiveness in open field play and also their goal kicker who, from a variety of kicking positions, seemingly effortlessly slotted nine out of nine conversions. A perfect day for him, but another disappointing one for the Hills.

There is now a gap of a fortnight till Saturday the 25th March when Hills play their penultimate National league game against old rivals, the West of Scotland, at Hughenden with a 15.00 hours KO.

Hills 1st XV – Andy Bolster, Graham Davidson, Jake Hayden, Scott Halliday, Ryan Reilly, Rory Harte, Matt Murray, Blair Mackenzie, Harry Perston (Harry Singh), Kenny Harper (Harry Perston), Chris Tulloch (Alec Cameron), Callum Stove (Owen Gemmell), Owen Gemmell(C) (Fraser Gow) Harry Cordner, Alec Cameron (Jonny Kinniburgh) All subs used.

Report & Featured Picture by Bernie Mitchell

Hills 2XV Just Do Enough to Overcome

Hills 2XV 13 – 8 Glasgow Accies 2XV

This 2nd XV derby match under the Hughenden lights attracted a goodish crowd on a cold evening to watch a game which was fast and furious : both sides played at a high tempo and both were equally furious with the match referee. But despite the whistle bashing, the entertainment was good, and, in truth, the match could have gone either way, as both sides were fairly evenly matched.

Hills scrummaged well with Struan Maidment on the loose head impressive throughout and the back row of Jamie McLaren, Josh Douglas and Alex Armstrong was devastating in the broken play. But Accies moved the ball more fluently and were always dangerous when opening out.

Hills took an early three point lead through a penalty goal struck by veteran stand off, David Paterson, but the visitors soon equalised and thereafter the game stagnated into a midfield arm wrestle with neither side able to seize any opportunity. A stray kick out off defence, very well fielded by Matt Murray led directly to the host opening score. The ball was moved quickly to Euan Harrington who drew the Accies defence well to put David Vallance clear on the left wing to finish expertly. The half time score, 8-3, was just about right.

Hills now had the benefit of the wind, but it was Accies who stormed back into the match and, after a series of close range drives, scored well to the left of the posts, but the conversion was missed. This reverse galvanised the home team, who used the wind through the towering kicks of Euan Harrington to gain ground in the visitors half. The Accies defence held out well, until the bulk of Jonny “Captain Pugwash” Urquhart proved unstoppable from five metres out. That took the Hills one score ahead. Until the final whistle both sides had chances, but the level of handling on either side could not cope with the defensive pressures and Hills ran out eventual winners.

Hills 2nd XV coach, Stuart Irvine, noted : “I’m really proud how the team dug in to win, they weren’t afraid to get stuck in and balled hard. The conditions were terrible but we used them to our advantage in the 2nd half. Things to work on in training and hopefully we can play smarter and improve some decision making. That should ensure the team keeps winning.”

Hills 2XV: Miguel Pimentez, Matt Murray, Chris Crome, Euan Harrington, David Vallance, David Paterson, Conor Duignan(C), Struan Maidment, Harry Singh, Jonny Urquhart, David Webster, Graeme Milloy, Jamie McLaren, Josh Douglas, Alex Armstrong. Subs all used Darryl Elvin, Fionn Whyte, Jonathan McCook, Toby Joshua

Pictures by Hamish Adamson
Report by Bernie Mitchell

Hilljills and Mini-Hilljills in Action

Hills ladies and junior girls (U18s and U15s) were all in action yesterday, Sunday 5th March.

Hills ladies played Murrayfield Wanderers at home to record a 63-10 win in the semi final of the Premier Development Cup. Player of the match was Kirsty Reid with two tries whilst other Hills scorers were Hannah Smith (4), Mairi McDonald (3), Aimee Watson (1), Hannah Telling (1) and Ally Cook with the conversions.

Hills play the winner of Ayr and Stewartry in the Final which is scheduled for the 19th March.
The game was pictured by Fiona, you will find more of her very good shots here.

Hills squad: Siobhan McMillan, Stella Kyalikunda, Fiona Reardon, Kirsty Openshaw, Jenny Johnston, Kirsty McConnell, Kirsty Reid, Hannah Telling, Sarah Smith, Ally Cook, Lizzie Willis, Hannah Smith, Kirstin Daly, Aimee Watson, Mairi McDonald, Debbie Falconer, Georgie Keys, AnnMarie Franz, Caitlyn Haldane.

Meanwhile at Bridgehaugh, Hills under 18s lost to Stirling County 40-12 in the West League whilst the under 15s played a friendly. Judging by the smiles and the mud, a good day of rugby was had by all!


Featured picture by Lesley Robertson
Above Pictures by Fiona and Jade
Report by Heather

Hills Valiant Efforts Go Unrewarded

Hills 15 – 29 Kelso

There were periods in this game when the Hills competed well with Kelso, the league’s favourites for promotion, but unfortunately the continuity could not be sustained and they ultimately lost by two goals and three tries to one goal, one try and a penalty goal.

Some of the Hills highlights were memorable: hooker Harry Perston’s strike against the head in the first quarter which should have produced the opening try but ended up being run into touch due to an inacurate pass. George Stephenson’s magnificent effort at the heart of a line out driven maul which saw him score with the home pack pushing the visitors over their line. Jamie Maddox’s catch and attack off a restart kick at half way which should have resulted in a try but was recalled due a dubious decision ; Rory Harte’s line kicking which at times was superb and his second half try ; Callum Stove’s all round effort and captain Owen Gemmell’s leadership and abrasive play in the loose.

But Kelso had too much power and physicality for the Hills to contain, and despite a brave second half by our boys, which played out at one try a piece, the margin at half time for Kelso (7-24), was too much for the home team to make up.

The team head up to the Granite city next Saturday, 11 th March with their squad for the third last fixture of the 2016/2017 season to play Aberdeenshire at the Woodside Sports Complex, kick off 14.00.

Hills1st XV: Dan Williams, Jamie Maddox, Scott Busby, Scott Halliday, Graham Davidson (Jake Hayden), Rory Harte, Ross Thomson, Ryan Williamson (Blair Mackenzie), Harry Perston, George Stephenson (Adam Plunkett), Chris Warnock (Ryan Reilly), Callum Stove, Scott Cameron, Owen Gemmell(C), and Harry Cordner All subs used

Excellent featured pictures by Dave Allen @ Kitos Photography
Report by Bernie Mitchell

Kirsty Receives Warriors Tickets

Continuing on the theme of rewarding players for their effort and achievements, Kirsty McConnell work was in the spotlight last week, and is pictured receiving two tickets for Saturday’s Warriors gamer against the Dragons from the club’s head of Rugby, Bernie Mitchell.

Kirsty has a proud family background in the game : her Dad, the “Serge”, was an outstanding back row forward for the Hills and Mum, Christine, was a flying winger for the Hills ladies. Her brother Murray also currently plays professionally for Nottingham.

Kirsty noted : “Yeah, it’s really great to play here at Hills. I get great encouragement particularly when everyone tells me I am a much better player than either my Mum or Dad were”

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