Greenock Wanderers RFC 33 points | Hillhead Jordanhill RFC 20 points
ALTHOUGH HILLS OPENED AND CLOSED THE SCORING on a heavy but eminently playable Fort Matilda playing surface, their opponents Greenock Wanderers, had too much power and pace throughout their squad to defeat their visitors by four goals and one try to one goal, two tries and one penalty goal. Hills therefore returned home pointless, and now out of contention for an NL3 promotion place, while their hosts league title hopes were rekindled.
Hills started well thanks to the power play of Nick McAuley at tight head prop and the rugby nous of half backs Rory Harte and Alex Gibbons. A good move on the blind side of a scrum from 30 metres out provided space for right-winger Ruairi Taylor to touch down in the corner. Wanderers however quickly regained the front foot and by the end of the first half had eased in to a 14 points to 8 lead. Hills early scrummage dominance had faded and the midfield contact areas were becoming hotly contested with almost professional rugby intensity. Hills struggled to maintain their intensity, apart from a Twaddle penalty goal, even when the Wanderers lost a man to the bin for an illegal body check.
The third quarter began with Hills having to recast their backline due to an Alex Gibbons head knock. Even though they continued to handle the ball well, line breaks were all too rare. Wanderers went further ahead after some poor defensive play from Hills who, despite this setback, responded with a fine right-to-left movement which saw Damien Genocchio take his try scoring opportunity well. Angus Twaddle converted brilliantly from the extreme left hand touchline and Hills were now only 21-15 down.
Unfortunately for Hills, the final fifteen minutes of the game saw the home team turn the screw and arm wrestle Hills out of the game. It was very poor work at the restart from Hills which let Greenock in for their fourth try and the fifth try followed soon after. To their credit, Hills rallied to put Greenock under much pressure in their own twenty two and, from an aggressive piece of mauling, a home player was red carded. A final onslaught on the home line forced a fine driven line out maul which saw Jonny Agnew scoring what turned out to be a consolation try.
Of Hills final eight league games, five are against the clubs immediately above them in the NL3 league table. Lasswade are first up this coming Saturday, February 1st, at Hughenden with a 14:00 hours KO.