Hillhead Jordanhill 33 points | Caithness 6 points
IN A MUST-WIN GAME for the home team, Hills responded to poor weather conditions and a stuffy visiting Caithness side to record a fine thirty-three points to six victory and thereby secure five valuable league points in their quest to maintain national league rugby status at Hughenden. The first half found Hills playing up the slope and they were quickly into their stride with captain and full back Craig Colvin showing the way with some excellent broken play running. Bill “The Ballyclare Bruiser” Kenny drove play into the visitors twenty-two where, after three quick recycling activities, Captain Colvin crossed for the opening try with right winger Rory Harte converting.
The dynamic opening, combining hard running with ball in hand and quick repossession from the breakdown, was a prominent feature of Hills play for most of the opening forty minutes and little scope was available to Caithness to counter-attack. When they did, Hills’ first up tackling, particularly around the fringes of the breakdown, was imperious with Alec Cameron the chief defensive enforcer. Scott Halliday added a second close-range try with Rory Harte converting and the mercurial right winger added a third when he ghosted through an all-but-invisible gap in the Caithness defence to score between the posts. The conversion was a formality and Hills were twenty-one points up and seemingly cruising, but Caithness, in a very rare excursion to the Hills’ danger area, opened their score with a well-struck penalty goal on the stroke of half time.
The third quarter saw Hills lose two players to the bin and subsequently assume a siege mentality to keep the visitors out. Once again Hills defended wilfully, but Caithness kicked another penalty goal and tensions began to mount on the field and among the animated home support. The return to a full complement and a change in the shape of the midfield engineered by deputy coach Douglas Grove restored equilibrium. Rory Harte took over the pivotal role at 10 and Jonny Hamilton-Potter added direction to the HIlls attack. The fourth try relied exclusively on Rory Harte’s field craft. An attacking play took the game into the Caithness twenty two when the stand-off looked up, saw a gap in the visitors cover, chipped ahead into the space and beat the defenders to the touch down. His magnificent conversion, across the face of the wind from the right hand touch line, was an impressive further contribution to his personal triumph. Hills then saw out the rest of the final quarter in some degree of comfort. Caithness were by now visibly tiring, and Hills held on to the ball well. Some excellent box kicking from scrum half Alex Gibbons kept the visitors in their twenty-two and from a series of rucks in which replacement Moncere was prominent, Gibbons scored the teams fifth try in the corner.
This game produced the first four try bonus point for Hills since the 16th November, some seven national league fixtures ago. Hills winter of discontent is, however, far from over. Three games remain and the situation is so tight at the foot of NL3 (three clubs are relegated) that two of these three games carry the same significance as this in being must-win fixtures. Hills next game is against ARDROSSAN ACADEMICALS at Memorial Field, Ardrossan, on the 16th March with a 14.00 KO.
Hills 1st XV
15 Craig Colvin (C)
14 Rory Harte (Ash Rajasooriya)
13 Scott Halliday
12 Damien Gennochio (James Hamilton-Potter)
11 Albain De Chaille (Damien Gennochio)
10 Hugo Gesta (Rory Harte)
9 Alex Gibbons
1 Adam Eakin
2 Harry Perston
3 Martyn Low (Mylo Connell)
4 Alec Cameron (Hy Moncere)
5 Bill Kenny
6 Conor Ferguson
7 Scott McMillan
8 Preston McGoldrick
(Subs all used)