West of Scotland FC 1st XV 20 points Hillhead Jordanhill RFC 1st XV 31 points
This was a derby game, high in intensity and endeavour, where the visitors held a narrow half time lead of 12-8 , but then fell behind their hosts to be 12-20 entering the final quarter. But Hills dug deep to close the gap to 3 points in the 70th minute and then, siphoning their very last reserves of energy, added 14 unanswered points between the 75th and 77th minutes to finally overcome a very spirited West squad to record a fine victory and return to Hughenden with 5 league points.
The game certainly benefitted from being played on the Burnbrae 4G surface given the waterlogged nature of the main1st XV pitch. At all times the surface was pacey, and favoured the runners in both squads. Unfortunately the skill levels did not always match the desire to play a fast and fluent game with the line breaks, apart from Hills final try, an endangered species. Midfield and fringe defence was sound in both squads with Scott Halliday in the Centre and Jaysen Denley and Matt Henderson in the Hills back row doing most of the “chopping” .
Of the 8 tries scored, 5 for Hills and 3 for West, 7 came from close range driving, either from individual burrowing and collapsing over the line or the driven line out maul. Two of Hills front row union, hooker Harry Perston and tight head prop, Liam Tighe, shared 4 of the tries, the former scoring nos. 2 and 3 while the latter recorded nos. 1 an 4. Apart from the actual try scoring, the 2 others members of the front row brotherhood, loose head, Niall Hall, and his replacement, Jonny Newton, contributed to a solid scrummaging performance.
But the outcome of the game was still in the balance in the 77th minute when West kicked off after Hills had edged ahead by 24 -20. The West restart was fielded by the rangy openside, Jaysen Denley, who stepped the first 2 West attackers, and then found the wide open spaces of the 4G pitch clearing in front of him. Some 55 metres on, his progress was halted by a last ditch tackle from the West no. 15, but the momentum change was very significant. Some 3 phases of play later, Hills flying full back, Sean Black , received the ball on the right flank on the home 22 with at least 2 West defenders in front of him. He feinted inside and then stepped outside to record a fine finisher’s try, Rory Harte converting from far out on the right.
That was the denouement of this fiercely contested match – well refereed by Craig Clark – which, in terms of its at times fierce engagement at the breakdown, belied its amateur and National league 3 status. The game showcased commitment from both teams but also 2 fine individual performances from the respective no. 8’s. Vice captain Ryan Reilly for Hills was immense with his ball carrying and his setting up at the breakdowns and at times was unstoppable ; while Scott Cochrane, the West Captain, was equally forceful in his all round play. Both Clubs will require their no. 8s to retain their level of performance as the games during the bleak midwinter come on with few breaks apart from the festive period.
The weather now remains open till Saturday the 16th when Hills host Orkney RFC, visitors from the Northern Isles, who remain unbeaten after their first 11 league games. In the Kirkwall fixture, Orkney triumphed only by the slenderest margin of 1 in a 61 point thriller . Can the Hills upset Orkney’s winning streak ? Come along to Hughenden on Saturday, KO 14.00, to find out?
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