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.

2XV Take 5 Points from Physical Encounter

Hills 2nd XV emerge victorious with 5 point after physical encounter away to Carrick 2nd XV. In a match that had two red cards and one penalty try it would be fair to say there were some fiery moments. Hills kept there cool and saved all their tries for the second half to win 31 points to 7.

The first half had no scores but plenty of action for the medium sized crowd to enjoy. Carrick brought a physical game plan which was met with equally strong defence. Big tackles close to fringes from Charlie Smillie and captain James Reekie stifled Carrick’s attacking options. With Hills misfiring at lineout time they were unable to build the pressure on the home team. Before the first half was over Chris Kelly was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle. Unfortunately video technology was not available at Rozelle park as the card was very suprising.

The second half saw the second red card being produced. This time Carrick’s number ten was sent off with 35 minutes or rugby left to play. Then Hills decide to step up a gear. The first try scored by the Graham Davidson, running from deep after a quick turnover. The standoff Angus Lauder converted easily and Hills had their tails up. Hills had now fixed the lineout problems and were playing further up the pitch. A penalty kick thirty meters out cooly sloted by the up and coming number ten built the lead again. The second try was another long range effort. This was scored by substitute Rory Wilson who galloped down the wing untouched to dot down under the posts. Seventeen points in front and Hills turned it on again. Pressuring Carrick’s line the ball found its way to Graham Davidson again who lived up to the name “Bambi” and skipped over to score. The infallible Angus Lauder again added the extras.

Discipline became an issue for both teams in the second half. Both not willing to give an inch. Carrick kicked a penalty to touch to attempt to get some foothold back in the game. After a well set driving lineout was taken down two meters from the line the referee had little choice but to award a penalty try.

With time running out and Hills on the last attack of the game there was a feeling the bonus point would be a bridge too far. Back row Loïs Legendre had other ideas! A sneaky pick and go on the oppositions 22 meter line resulted in the flying French man sliding over the line. Angus was handed another easy kick and the game and maximum points went to the boys from Hughenden Road.

Final score Carrick 7 – Hills 31.

2XV Squad: Darryl Elvin, Callum Kettles, Francisco Gomez Acuña, Charlie Smillie, Graeme Milloy, Loïs Legendre, Sam Bancroft, Hélian Bourrel, James Reekie, Angus Lauder, Graham Davidson, Chris Crome, Ruaraidh Mayes, Padraig Cuthbertson, Gaëtan Boyer, Tom Primrose, Chris Kelly, Rory Wilson, Grahame Cannell.

Coaching: Stuart Irvine, assisted by Ryan Williamson
Report: Stuart Irvine

Fiery 2A’s Under the Lights

This was a fine game played under the Hughenden lights on a perfect night for running rugby. There was plenty of excitement to keep a sparse crowd well entertained with a very close first half which the home side just shaded by nineteen points to fifteen, coming back from a ten nil deficit after fifteen minutes. But the second period of play saw the Hills side move up the gears to consolidate their winning position by adding a further three converted tries with visitors Marr recording a consolation effort just before the final whistle.

Hills owed their superiority to a fine forward and midfield defence and to the predatory instincts of their half backs, Fionn Whyte and Tom Donaldson. Both ran well individually, but importantly made space for others to keep the forward momentum. The forward pack scrummaged and ruck effectively to provide a fine platform for no. 8 Steven Kay run well from the base and Fionn to distribute the ball.

The try of the game was scored by scrum half Fionn Whyte whose solo run had several Marr defenders grasping fresh air, as he weaved his way to the line from thirty-five metres out. His half back partner, Tom Donaldson, made several breaks, three of which produced tries for himself. Additionally his running lines and well-judged offloads produced space for Toby Mitchell and Alasdair Turnbull to cross the line unopposed. Sean Smith at full back had a good game with his boot, converting five of the tries, he partnered well with Blair Johnston who was efficient again, this time on the wing.

A five pointer against Marr is an exceptional result and the outcome can be referenced Hills improving and enlarging group of players. Keeping on this path the 2A’s can seriously target the top of their league. They travel to Dalziel 3rd XV next Saturday.

Hillhead Jordanhill 2AXV 40 points Marr 3rdXV 22 points

6th October Squad: Ariel Fertonani, Iain Cardno, Michael Sinclair, Charlie Duncan, Andrew Park, Alistair Mclaren, Stephen Cunniffe, Steven Kay, Fionn Whyte, Tom Donaldson, Blair Johnston, Euan MacMahon, Toby Mitchell, Iain Stewart, Sean Smith, Martin Wilson, William Murphy, Anurat Phuntungpoom, Alasdair Turnbull, William Murphy, Andrew Ross.

Coaching: Hector McIntyre & Ian McLennaghan

A Braveheart Victory

Sunday morning saw the Hilljills’ heavies throwback their curtains and jump for rugby joy. A howler had blown in from the Atlantic overnight; rain, wind, and plummeting temperatures would be manifesting swamp conditions at Bridgehaugh. Praise be to the rugby gods – it was a game for the big guns! A prop pummelling, tub thumbing, dirt digesting forward fest!

However, it was not to be…

Hillhead/Jordanhill’s 43-10 victory against Stirling County on Sunday was a testament to every player on the pitch. An enigmatic flow of forward and back plays that eventually saw a plethora of tries across a variety of positions.

It was not a simple start. To the contrary the girls faced their most challenging opposition this year as County instantly showed up with some smart plays off their 9- who made it clear we had a game of rugby on our muddy paws. Almost over-hyped by the challenge, Hilljills took a while to embrace the concept that they would have to set up several patient phases then earn the rights to utilise the weapons that be on the wing.

It was not until the 22nd minute that the experienced Lockhart bowled over her victim and bounced to the try line. Her first of the season!

This eased the pressure and within the next ten minutes Smith (of the Sarah variety) snaked up the blind side in a display of her positional fusion. Smith demonstrated she is more than a pivotal link player and whipped up the side-line like a greyhound at the races. County answered back with fury proving they were not going to be victim to a big score line. They provided a well worked try out on their left wing as a result of a penalty. In previous seasons being scored against could be said to be the Achilles of the team. However, Captain McMillan did not lose her Kilbarchan mojo. She gathered her squaddies under the posts and insisted all would be well if we do not panic, retain composure and play our systems.

Consequently, the prize for composure arrived in the sparkling form of Evans who sliced her defensive line with her sevens inspired side step and raced to the line.

Holding onto the win would require effort. The conditions were now swampesque and the underfoot terrain caused players to look as if they were playing in the black boots era of 90s rugby. Rising to the challenge the forwards put in some big carries led by veteran Lindsay Smith who inspired her pack to carry forward at all costs.

Unfortunately, in their haste, Hilljills’ penalty count was creeping alarmingly high: they began to dive into rucks like salmon in the Spey and tacklers were not being released for love nor toffee. At half time, big constructive words from a small constructed man ensured the team were aware this statistic was indeed real. His motivational rhetoric was gospel and he challenged the girls to abolish this weakness.

To which they rose! The first quarter of this half was perhaps the most aesthetic of rugby Hilljills had displayed this season. At times they looked like they were playing on a dry summer’s day.Cook and Smith at 9/10 proved integral: the brains to the brawn. Smith’s vision set up several stunning plays and Cook’s strikingly skilful handling sent the soap bar wide. Within minutes, Evans was through for her second. The team moved with grace and pace up the field. Ironic- as they had started to look disturbingly similar to the Moto Moto Hippos in scenes from animated movie Madagascar. It was not long before McMillan showed her international flair and picked up a bobbling loose ball, shook free of the nuisance defenders and danced her way to the line.

Stirling again retaliated and were met with Braveheart defence and solid tackling across the board. Most notably in this area was Andrea Gaffney. Unusually, Gaffney was featuring in the centre (in place of the injured, effervescent Hannah Smith) and it was not long before she made herself heard. Time after time Gaffney used her speed to get off the line and knock back her opposite number –all.day.long. It was almost frightening to watch and an incredible effort for a position debut. Similar Tongan style hits from Jennifer Johnson were made as part of an organised defence.

The sixty third minute saw Gaffney take the hit for the team and was sent to the bin for ten minutes following a repeated error at the breakdown.

Later than usual, Hilljills began to look their comfortable selves and pulled away in the latter stages to record a good victory. Their flow only tempered by a yellow card to Ally Cook (the first of her career), who was penalised for not rolling away despite being a distance away- perhaps a case of mistaken number identity!

Squad: Siobhan McMillan, Lindsey Smith, Heather Lockhart, Georgie Keys, Jenny Johnston, Kirsty McConnell, Hannah Telling, Louise McMillan(C), Saran Smith, Ally Cook, Aimee Watson, Abi Evans, Andrea Gaffney, Emma Barlow, Amanda Moore, Marta Estelles Chaparro, Fiona Dorman, Hannah McHugh, Lucy Mills

Hills will face Murrayfield Wanderers at home this weekend where they intend to hold fort.

Next match v Murrayfield Wanderers, Sunday 8th Oct 2pm kick off at Hughenden

Report: Kirsty McConnell

2018 6 Nations Away Game Tickets: ACT NOW!

The application deadline for 2018 RBS 6 Nations Away tickets is less than three weeks away (Friday 20th October), so get your ticket allocation forms in NOW to avoid disappointment.

Scotland travel to Ireland, Wales and Italy for three exciting games in legendary touring locations, and tickets for these games will sell out fast, so don’t miss out!

Apply for your tickets TODAY!! (link opens application form)

Hills Bag First 5 Pointer

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

A Strong Second Half and a Bonus Point

After forty minutes of this game played in the wide open undulating space of the Inverness High School pitch – Highland open their new Canal Park facility soon – the Hills found themselves forty points to seven adrift and looking at the wrong end of a severe hiding. Matters quickly righted themselves, however, in a much better second forty minutes with Hills responding in fine fashion by scoring five tries, four of which were converted to put a much better shine on the outcome. Hills therefore gathered their first point of the 2017 /2018 league programme with their try bonus point.

One reason for the half time differential was the overhead conditions with a stiff wind blowing down the pitch which Highland used to their considerable advantage by kicking high and wide from penalties and first phase possession to the corners from where their physical pack outmauled the lighter Hills pack. Additionally the Hills took far too long to raise the intensity of their game, based on quick recycling, and allowed Highland to boss the proceedings for most of the first half. When Hills did take it to their hosts, they did not look too convincing with stand off Rory Harte inspiring his team and the thin travelling support by dancing over a for a fine try which he converted.

The second half finally allowed Hills to reveal some of their running skills and understanding of the coaches game plan, when they found the intensity required in the adversity of the half time score. Offloading at speed coupled with close backing up produced tries for Scott McMillan and Rory Harte, while in the wider left wing channel, youngster Ciaran Callaghan showed good finishing instincts by touching down twice. Hills,however, did not get full marks for their second half showing, as poor game management when “Highland” had fourteen men – the home team had two players yellow carded on separate occasions – let them in for two soft tries. A more focused performance for the full eighty minutes would have produced a much closer final scoreline. But all associated with the Hills, committee, players and supporters, should take considerable comfort from the second forty minutes played in Inverness, and hope that form can be taken forward to the next few games.

Next Saturday the 30th September finds Hills playing at home against their rivals from Lanarkshire, Dalziel, in game 5 of the NL3 programme. Kick off at Hughenden is 15:00. Please try to support the club in what will be a tight, tense game.

Highland 50pts Hillhead/Jordanhill 33pts

Hills 1st XV Squad: Craig Colvin, Jamie Maddox, Scott Busby(C), Scott Halliday, Ciaran Callaghan, Rory Harte, Graham Morton (Darren Knox), Ross Jackson (Blair Mackenzie), Harry Perston (Harry Singh) Maurice Adams, Jonny Kinniburgh, Bill Kenny, Conor Ferguson (Martin Malone), Ryan Reilly and Scott McMillan

Next Saturday the 30th September finds Hills playing at home against their rivals from Lanarkshire, Dalziel, in game 5 of the NL3 programme. Kick off at Hughenden is 15.00. Please try to support the club in what will be a tight, tense game

McCrea’s and HJRFC Renew Partnership

As announced today, Hillhead Jordanhill RFC are delighted to share the news of the sponsorship renewal from long standing partners McCrea Financial Services.

McCrea’s support throughout the years have benefited rugby development for all our teams at Hughenden. The continuation of this partnership is a fantastic news for all Hills players and supporters.

Hills President Andy Scott commented: ‘I am delighted we are renewing our ongoing partnership with McCreas who have been a great supporter of HJRFC. Everyone at the club is looking forward to developing our relationship further through imaginative activity.’