Howe of Fife 38 points ( 2 points ) Hillhead Jordanhill 41 points ( 5 points )
By any standards, this was a magnificent game of rugby, fairly contested by all 38 players, on a fine autumnal afternoon on the well prepared Duffus Park surface. The game lacked for nothing with a total of 12 tries being scored, 6 for each team, and a whole range of dynamic attacking moves on the rugby menu for the full 80 minutes. The quality on show was such that the game belied its national League 3 status. Howe were in the ascendancy for the first 60 minutes, leading at the mid point by 28-19 and then after 60 minutes by 33-22. But Hills resilience and the brilliant field vision and tactics of their stand-off and captain, Rory Harte, saw them home by a whisker at 41-38 at no-side.
In the first half, Hills tried to match Howe’s 15 man approach, but occasional handling lapses in their open field distribution proved their undoing. However an individual flash of footballing skill was the catalyst for scrum half Fraser Ebbit to kick into empty space behind the home defence and follow up well for Hills first try. The finishing skills of Sean Black, the left wing Muileach, with his two fine tries contributed to Hills just keeping in touch at the interval. Hills front row, Messers Jackson, Pertson and Degnan were competing manfully at the set scrummage where the two well nourished Howe props proved a handful. Meanwhile second rower, Giacomo Sanders, single handedly broke even on the touchline exchanges.
The pace of the game did not slacken at all in the third quarter with Preston McGoldrick, the “Mighty Atom”, proving troublesome to Howe’s attackers. Rory Harte kicked a penalty to nudge Hills closer, but then Howe, with two passes which covered the width of the field, scored an outstanding try to take them to 33-22. But Hills did not panic, and instead changed their game plan substituting a kick/chase approach for their attacking all out handling moves. Play now began to take place in the Howe twenty two and was rewarded by Rory Harte’s high and handsome kick pass from just to the left of the posts to the right wing where substitute Milan Marinkovic gathered to touch down. The conversion was missed, but the momentum was now with Hills. Hooker, Harry Perston, barrelled over from close range, and Harte kicked the conversion. Hills were now just ahead at 34-33 with 10 minutes left to play.
The game returned to the Howe twenty two and once again Rory Harte’s field craft and vision were the undoing of Howe. From the shadow of the Howe posts, he kick passed again expertly to the right hand touchline where he found substitute, Billy Mullin, leaping like an Atlantic salmon, to field and touch down. And this time the conversion was kicked. Three minutes left and Hllls 41-33 up but Howe still had belief. Once again Finlay Foulkes, a Darcy Graham clone, caused havoc in the Hills defence and he scored in the corner. The conversion was rushed and missed . It was now 41-38 and Howe attacked again. This time , however, Milan Marinkovice’s copybook, thundering tackle, the impact of which was heard all around the ground, concluded Howe’s last ditch attempt at winning.
Some game and spectacle from the 38 players who participated. Hills take 5 league points while Howe have 2. Hills now return to Hughenden to play Greenock Wanderers on October 1st with a 15.00 KO.