Hills Beat West and the Weather
Hillhead Jordanhill RFC 12 points | West of Scotland RFC 10 points
WHILE THERE WAS SOME DOUBT as to whether this game would proceed due to casual water lying on the surface of the pitch after heavy overnight rain, Hills President Gary “Kitch” Kitchener used all his earth science knowledge combined with the judicious use of a large fork to make the grounds playable. After the early morning concerns the playing surface was in remarkable condition, but the ambient temperature of 4C and the biting wind chill with occasional rain made for testing conditions for the players as well as the brave supporters, shivering in the Fraser stand.
It was not a day for pretty, open rugby, but both sides worked hard in attack and defence to respectively fashion and close down chances. With the wind blowing east-south-east, West held the advantage in the first half kicking to the Gartnavel end of the grounds. But there were few line breaks and first and second phase possession was evenly contested. Hills relied on half backs Alex Gibbons with his astute box kicks, and stand-off Rory Harte with his fine line kicking, to take them out of trouble. The West forwards proved troublesome with their close driving and the visitors had scored two unconverted tries after 30 minutes, one of which came off an upright, which would prove crucial. In the last 10 minutes of the half, Hills raised their game through Jonny Agnew’s lineout work and Robbie Thomson’s carrying in the loose. A series of charges at the West line ended up with replacement prop Adam Eakin burrowing his way over for a try. Winger Finlay Keegan slotted the conversion and the half ended with West 10-7 to the good.
Hills now had the wind and much of the territorial advantage in the second half, but West proved a stubborn side to break down. When Hills decisive score came, it was down to some opportunism from Finlay Keegan who, with little space to move in, caught his own chip kick to plunge over the line. The conversion was missed, but Hills now had a two point advantage and were in the ascendency. Rory Harte ensured the game was played in the West half of the field and try as the visitors might to break out into the Hills danger areas, their attacks were well contained by the home defensive wall. The last 10 minutes were played out in midfield with neither side gaining any advantage. Within some 90 seconds of the final whistle, the pitch and grounds were enveloped in a fierce snowstorm and players and spectators ran for the comfort of the clubhouse.
Hills now travel next Friday/Saturday March 7th to Thurso to play Caithness, a 560 mile round trip with an overnight stay in Inverness. This will not be an easy game as the home team requires points to move out of the National League 3 relegation zone. If the visitors can retain the defensive shape which they showed in the West game and also play rugby in the Caithness danger areas and not in their own half, then the Hills stand a good chance of success.