Hills Defensive Skills Win the Day
Hillhead/Jordanhill 20 pts Gordonians 12 pts
The conditions, with a heavy ground and the prevailing south west wind blowing stiffly all through the game, did not allow for a high intensity, end to end match, but the commitment from both sets of players provided an absorbing contest for the fair sized crowd sheltering in the Fraser stand.
It took Hills a while to get going even though playing with the wind, as they preferred to play with the ball in hand rather than chase wind assisted kicks. Hills in fact did not enjoy much territorial domination in the whole eighty minutes, but they were purposeful when in the visitors twenty two, due to the attacking skills of both Rory Harte at full back and Euan Brown at stand off, encouraged by the rugby nous of inside centre, James Reekie. Brown opened the scoring with a well struck penalty goal from far out on the left of the visitors twenty two. He repeated the trick some ten minutes later as Hills responded well to a close range Gordonians try which they converted. With the first half clock running down, Hills, at last, found the elusive cutting edge to move breakdown ball quickly right via prop Mark Barrowman to the intruding Rory Harte who,from some twenty metres out, backed himself to make the line and score. Euan Brown converted well from tight on the right hand touchline to take his side to thirteen points to seven at the interval.
The second half saw a transformation in the game with Gordonians dominating both possession and territory to such an extent that Hills had to rely on all their defensive qualities, while rarely crossing the half way line. The visitors scored quickly after the restart, but their left footed kicker failed to convert from the left hand touchline ; indeed the visitors unreliable goal kicking was to prove ultimately their downfall as they failed to convert any of three kickable penalties awarded during the second half. From the forty fifth to the seventieth minute of the game, Hills tackled every visitor’s shirt that moved and all players showed huge commitment. Given the physicality and intensity of the engagement, it was hard to believe at times it was bona fide amateurs who were playing.
The decisive and winning try in the game arose from bizarre circumstances . Brown and Reekie worked the ball well downfield to the visitors twenty two where a breakdown penalty was awarded to Hills. Rather than kick to the corner for a close range attacking line out, captain Owen Gemmell asked Euan Brown to kick for goal. It was, however, his poorest shot of the afternoon, the arc of flight taking it towards the far side of the field. First to react, however, was Rory Harte who followed up to field the ball and set up an attacking ruck. Five phases later, substitute prop, Maurice Adams drove over from close range to touch down, and Euan Brown recalibrated his radar to send the ball just across the crossbar. This gave Hills an eight point cushion and, although the final few minutes were typically frantic, they held on to record an excellent win in the circumstances and leave the spirited Gordonians squad pointless in a game to which they contributed so much without taking their chances.
Next up for the Hills is an away game in the Borders at St. Boswells on the 3rd February. The game will kick off early at 13.00 to allow the players to watch the second half of the Cardiff international. The bus will leave at 10.00 and all supporters are welcome.
Hills 1st XV : Rory Harte, Darren Knox (Scott Halliday), Arnaud Bauchet, James Reekie, James Maddox, Euan Brown, Dan Williams, Ross Jackson (Maurice Adams), Harry Perston, Mark Barrowman, Charlie Smillie (James Acheson), Bill Kenny, James Acheson (Alex Armstrong), Conor Ferguson, Owen Gemmell (C), Subs Harry Singh