Season finale lacks sparkle at Memorial Field
Ardrossan Academicals 42 points | Hillhead Jordanhill 14 points
AT THE END OF THE FIRST QUARTER of their final league game of the 2018/2019 season at Ardrossan’s Memorial Field, Hills seemed to be comfortable at fourteen points all with their Ayrshire rivals. They had opened the scoring through a close range drive from Chris Warnock, Hills’ best player on the day by the proverbial Irish country mile, and a second score added by Rory Harte with a characteristic Strictly Come Dancing-style soft-shoe shuffle which dazzled the home defence. Harte converted both but his second conversion brought an abrupt end to Hills efforts in troubling the scoreboard. In the second quarter of the game, Ardrossan simply blew Hills away with some wonderful forwards and backs interpassing which left the visitors shell shocked and unable, apart from a brief Jimmy Griffith charge, to stop the home sides incessant attacks. Certainly Hills contributed to their own downfall with some woeful work on the touch lines which led directly to two of the hosts three tries. At half time, Ardrossan had moved to a commanding try bonus position of thirty five points to fourteen ahead with all five of their tries being converted by their fly-half Lewis.
The second half showed a small-but-welcome improvement in Hills’ fortunes with their defence tightening up and performing more coherently to restrict Ardrossan to only one further score. Scott Halliday ran well in the centre and back row sub James Acheson had two good runs in broken play which should have led to Hills being able to peg back their hosts, but the necessary support was not available. Hills were frustrated all afternoon in dealing with Ardrossan’s rush defence and their hosts certainly protected their first phase ball much better than their opponents did.
After well deserved home victories against Caithness and Orkney, the defeats at Murrayfield and Ardrossan meant that the end of season building of momentum was less than hoped going into season 2019/2020. That being said, those strong home performances saved Hills’ national league status for 2019/2020.
In the age of Curriculum for Excellence, an end of term report card might read “Tried hard, but can do better”.
Warmest thanks must now go to all the players, coaching and medical staff, committee members and supporters who have worked so hard throughout the season. We look forward to seeing you all again in season 2019/2020!