Hills Turn the Corner In New Season
Hillhead/Jordanhill RFC 16pts Ardrossan Accies 8pts
This first round National Cup win against old foes Ardrossan was one which was savoured by the many home spectators who packed into the Fraser Stand to shelter from the monsoon weather which saturated the Hughenden turf. For those who would care not to be reminded, it was back in February 2016 when Hills defeated Lasswade ten points to seven at Hawthorndean in NL2 that a win was last enjoyed. This result should therefore provide a welcome tonic to those hardy souls who have continued to support their club during the barren times, and those players who have trudged the highways and byways of Scotland and suffered some twenty six consecutive National league defeats for their troubles.
This first round national league cup tie certainly lacked nothing in feistiness with both sets of forwards tearing into each other at the breakdowns with no quarter given or asked. Fortunately “Hills” had the balance of power in the set scrum where loose head prop Mark Barrowman enjoyed a fine debut and tight head Blair Mackenzie troubled his opposite number. Chris Warnock as front jumper and Ryan Reilly at the tail also enjoyed a profitable return on the touch line. Security in first phase possession therefore allowed the Hills half backs, Conor Duignan and Rory Harte, to spread the play, but poor handling on occasion with the greasy ball was their undoing, and the best periods of play came when stand off Rory Harte kicked long with good follow up from another debut boy, Craig Colvin, on the left wing. It was a somewhat farcical situation, however, which produced Hills first score. Rory Harte opted to kick at goal, but then remembered he had left his kicking tee in the dressing rooms. He then tried to drop a goal from the mark, but succeeded in shanking it badly to such a devastating effect that Ardrossan knocked the ball on in their in goal area. A succession of scrums then produced Hills opening score, when, from good ruck possession, the powerful Owen Gemmell, Hills captain, offloaded to Bill Kenny, debuting in the second row, to touch down in the corner. Some five minutes later, Conor Duignan was first to react when Ardrossan failed to protect a ball heeled from their scrum. Although Rory Harte was kicking well from hand, his skills as a goal kicker were kept well hidden, until he finally converted a short range penalty to nudge his side thirteen points ahead with some thirty five minutes played. Ardrossan, who had been on the back foot for most of the first half and had suffered some bad injuries to two of their forwards, came back into it and pressurised Hills into conceding a penalty which the visitors converted. The half time score of thirteen points to three was a fair reflection on the balance of play.
The visitors were now kicking down the Hughenden slope and the game took on a different shape with Ardrossan in the ascendancy. Certainly Harte kicked another penalty goal to take his side thirteen points up, but the story of the second half was “Hills” solid defence in the centre with James Reekie and Scott Busby very sound and full back Robbie Williamson a dependable final line of defence. Although tiredness set in, the bench came to the rescue and “Hills ”managed to halt several promising Ardrossan attacks particularly out wide. But the visitors deserved their score after seventy four minutes and it could hardly be described as a consolation, such was their endeavour and contribution to a fast flowing second half.
The game then finished with “Hills” victors by sixteen points to eight. There was no dancing in the streets of Hughenden after this result, but a quiet determination among the players and new coaches, Dean Kelbrick and Graeme Blackhall, that the result will be the catalyst for a rebuilding process of the Club at Hughenden.
“Hlls” 1st XV – Robbie Williamson, Jamie Maddox, (Graham Davidson), Scott Busby, James Reekie, Craig Colvin, Rory Harte, Conor Duignan, (Matt Murray), Mark Barrowman (Ross Jackson), Harry Perston, Blair Mackenzie, (Maurice Adams), Chris Warnock, Bill Kenny, Owen Gemmell(C), (Jonny Kinniburgh), Ryan Reilly and Conor Fergusson (Conor Duignan)