HILLS SNATCH DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY
Strathmore 14 points Hillhead Jordanhill 12 points
Although the bare stats. might suggest a “ game of two halves” – after 40 minutes Hills were 12-0 up – this was more a case of the one that got away from the Glasgow visitors. The playing surface was heavy and cut up badly as the game progressed, to such an extent that the match referee, the estimable J P Doyle, could have been forgiven, in the final 20 minutes of this absorbing fixture, for not knowing which player was in which side, such was the cloying mud on everyone.
Yet in the first 40 minutes when there were still some patches of green on the field, Hills played some good rugby with stand off Rory Harte’s kicking from hand producing significant territorial gains. Callum Griffiths was immense in ball carrying and all the unglamorous chores of the back row forward, while Giacomo Sanders was a very effective front of the line out jumper. Strathmore were rarely out of their half in this period and were under huge territorial pressure. The hosts, however, had not been helped by an injury to one of their props during the warm up, and then, after only 5 minutes play, one of their centres went off. Paradoxically the game started to turn in their favour when uncontested scrums were required after only 30 minutes, following another front row injury. Up until that point, the Hills scrummage had been a very potent weapon, driving Strathmore back frequently, but once it became depowered, the visitors attacking ploys off first phase ball diminished. All Hills points came courtesy of Rory Harte’s eye for the gap with two short range scores off quickly delivered ruck ball. One of these was converted.
Hills travelling support all felt confident about their team’s ability to cross for more tries in the second half, but the visitors lost their way badly by trying to play more of an expansive game than they had in the first half. Being 15 metres behind the gain line is not the game plan when there is mud everywhere and the forwards prefer the ball in front of them, and not out in the wide channels. The hosts were then invited back into the game, and their half backs, Mellis and Butchart, made the most of it by returning turnover ball back down the field with increasing regularity. Craig Colvin at the back for Hills became increasingly pressurised, and Hills began to crack, even after the emptying of the replacements’ bench. Strathmore were now on the front foot, and it was no surprise that they scored two good close range tries, both of which were converted to take them 2 points ahead with only 8 minutes left to play. Hills did try to raise their game by camping in the opposition twenty two, but try as they might, their hosts were not for buckling with bodies being regularly thrown in the way of their opponents. The final whistle produced scenes of joy among the home support and players, but ones of utter devastation among the visitors.
To say that Hills have lost their way after streaking into the lead at the top of the table with 5 straight wins is no understatement. It is hoped the hard lessons learned of how to play wet weather rugby on heavy grounds will be very quickly assimilated, as this week’s weather forecast suggests more of the same for their visit to Fort Matilda to play Greenock Wanderers on Saturday December 11th at 14.00.
|December 4, 2021
|Tennent's National League Division 3
|Strathmore RFC 1 XV
|HJRFC Men 1st XV
Strathmore RFC 1 XV
HJRFC Men 1st XV