A hard-earned win against Hillfoots

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Strathmore RFC started their game against Hillfoots on the front foot but unfortunately they were unable to put any points on the board from the first few waves of attack.

It was Hillfoots who opened the scoring with a try, followed by a penalty. The visitors then had a long spell of possession but were kept away from the Strathie line by some big tackles and solid rucking. Somehow, despite the defensive effort, Hillfoots grabbed another try which was converted to make the score 15-0 after half an hour.

Rory Collins popped a pass inside to Dave Smith who took the ball at pace and brushed aside a couple of tackles before side stepping the ‘foots fullback and cruised over the line to score a fantastic try for the hard working home side to make it 5-15. The remainder of the half saw the home side play their rugby with a high tempo and ferocity at the breakdown. Seconds before half time, the ball was passed through the hands quickly and accurately from Blackmore to Stuart Ross who missed out Kiely to let Jamie McLaren break the line with a neat step and take on the full-back, who once again was left bemused as he was by-passed this time by the footwork of the Strathie centre, McLaren, who crashed over the line in the corner to make the score 10-20 at the half way point.

The team came back onto the pitch full of confidence and believing they could turn the game around. After several pick and go attempts, Strathie were awarded a penalty. Leading by example, captain Stuart Gray took it quickly and battered his way through several tacklers to be stopped inches from the line. Great support play from Bruce Morrice saw the blindside flanker receive the ball from Gray to dive over the line surprising the defence and leaving them no time to stop him from scoring Strathie’s third try of the day. The conversion was narrowly missed and the score was now 15-20 in favour of the visiting side.

At this point the blacks began to throw everything they had at Hillfoots. Ten minutes of good ball retention began to tire the visitors and put Strathie in control. The pressure being put on the defence forced Hillfoots to be offside at many occasions - one of which was spotted by the referee in a penalty to Strathmore. Touch was found once again by the accurate boot of Stuart Ross. Strathie took in the line-out and mauled towards the line. The referee blew for penalty after penalty as the visitors struggled to cope. Finally, two Hillfoots players saw yellow within minutes of each other.

The numerical advantage helped the home side immediately. After a solid scrum and a few attempts to drive over the line, a pod of Strathmore forwards broke through the defence at the edge of a ruck just inches from the line to score the equalising try. Colin Bell was at the heart of it all getting a very important try for the Blacks. Stewart Ross came very close to putting Strathie ahead, but the conversion from out wide struck the post and the game was tied at 20-20.

Straight from the restart, Strathie managed to secure ball and with more dynamic running from full-back Dave Smith they found themselves back in the visitors’ half. The backs moved the ball left and right, with the blacks always going forward and looking like adding a fifth and winning try. Unfortunately they were unable to add to the score, but when Hillfoots did make a late charge to claim victory however the home defence was solid and gave them no opportunity to win the game.

A very strong second half from Strathmore ensured a bonus point draw against a very direct Hillfoots team. A much improved performance from last weekend proved this young side’s determination to succeed.