Hillhead Jordanhill 1st XV 21 pts Orkney 1st XV 18 points

It’s a myth that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, and the resilient, spirited Hills squad proved that again on their home turf when, for the second time this season, they won with the last kick of the game, having been in arrears since the first minute of play. For the statistically minded, the sequence of scoring was 0-0, 0-7, 0-10, 3-10, 6-10( after 40 minutes ) , 6-13, 6-18, 13-18, 18-18 and 21-18 ( at 80).

It was a mystery to many at the stadium that Hills still remained in touch at the mid point of the game, such had been the dominance of the Orcadian onslaught. Playing towards the Gartnavel end of the grounds, Orkney ran hard and straight, making inroads through alternately their first and second receivers. But somehow, apart from an early blemish from a close range maul when they conceded a try, Hills defence held firm. No. 8 Ryan Reilly and inside centre, Scott Halliday, were strong in the heat of physical engagement, but the speed of the hosts’ line defence and the willingness of the whole Hills team to put their bodies in the way of their abrasive visitors was a key feature of their battling display. Niall Hall, hooking for the day, did well in the immediate confrontational zone, as did Lewis Lightbody, filling in at loose head prop. Hills Jaysen Denley enjoyed touchline success, but Orkney had the monopoly of both ball and territory. And it was only via rare excursions into the opposition half that Rory Harte was able to disturb the scoreboard by converting 2 penalty chances, the first of which he had to hurriedly drop kick as the ball fell off the kicking tee.

There was little relief for the Hills in the 3rd quarter of the game with their forward pack being splintered on 2 occasions by their Orcadian opposite numbers. The visitors added a penalty and a try during this period and, but for some recurring carelessness and untidiness at the breakdowns, would surely have added more. But, as the game moved into its final quarter, Hills, thanks to stand-off and captain Rory Harte’s maturing game management, suddenly found themselves more on the front foot and able to move the ball around. In a sustained period of attacking play in the Orkney 22, Hills elusive full back, Sean Black, found a great line to weave past 3 defenders to touch down by the posts to present Rory Harte with a straightforward conversion.

At 13-18 the force was now with Hills, as they finally established some territorial presence. The ball moved to and fro without any line breaks until Rory Harte outwitted Orkney by missing out both his centres to float a wonderfully weighted pass to his flying left winger, Fionn Whyte, who squeezed in at the corner. Now it was all down to Rory Harte’s conversion to nudge his side ahead, but the conversion drifted wide and it looked like an honourable draw would be the final outcome. But Hills took the game back to Orkney in the final 2 minutes of the dying game and the visitors offended on the ground. It was a case of “cometh the hour, cometh the man” and Rory Harte successfully, in the last act of the game, piloted his 35 metre kick between the posts to record what seemed until the final 10 minutes an unlikely victory. Hence Hills brought Orkneys run of 11 consecutive national league victories to a close, but it was “the nearest run thing” you have witnessed.

Special mention and thanks to match referee, Bea Casares- Fernandez, who finished the game despite being in considerable discomfort, following a collision with one of the Orkney forwards which resulted in a dislocated shoulder. Running repairs from Dr Sean Sawer, the Hills lead physio, allowed the game to proceed after a break of 10 minutes.

National league 3 now hibernates for a 3 week break with hostilities resuming for Hills at Preston Lodge on January 13th with a 14.00 KO.

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