The game started slowly with Cartha’s strong pack denying Hamilton the chance to gain much territory. That combined with the amount of unforced errors, prevented either team from gaining momentum. There were a few good breaks but failure to support resulted in easy turnovers or penalties for holding. The deadlock was broken at about 20mins into the first half after a quick tap and go penalty was taken by Kevin Sherry leading to the first try of the game. Fraser McAllan converted to make it 0-7 to the visitors. Cartha came straight back at us from the restart and defended well and constantly neutralised Hamilton’s concentrated midfield attack. After multiple charges, inside centre Gavin Dobbie managed to outmuscle his opposite number, blasting through the tackle to score his team’s second try of the day. The conversion was missed by McAllan, leaving the score at 0-12 for the visitors.
The last 10 minutes of the half were a forgettable affair with Hamilton showing a lack of discipline by conceding continuous penalties, allowing Cartha to stay in the game. The home side was rewarded for their effort with a try 5 minutes from time, which they failed to convert, the score 5-12. Cartha now with a taste of blood fought hard into the Hamilton half, the Ref signalled for last play when the Cartha 10 nailed a drop goal to close out the half 8-12.
The second half started in similar fashion to our previous fixture back in October, with Cartha believing the victory was within grasps and launching fierce attacking phases. However, in contrast to that game, Hamilton showed a strong defence with significant improvements from previous fixtures. The team organisation and tackling was a major positive of the day and ensured the home side failed to take advantage of their possession. Hamilton forced their opponents to make mistakes and regained the ball back. After successive phases and a gain of territory, a break was made by winger Clement Komesli who came from deep to cut inside and score the team’s third try. Chris Naughton converted, extending the lead to 8-19.
The score lifted the team and their confidence showed as they added back-to-back tries shortly after. The first was a result of Aaron Partridge's superb solo effort, showing great acceleration and pace to cross the line and score his first senior try and securing the bonus point. The conversion was missed by Sherry leaving the score at 8-24. Straight after the restart the ball was played wide towards Clement Komesli who finished in the corner scoring his second try of the day. The conversation was missed this time by Naughton making it 8-29.
Cartha showed good spirit and decided to go and put the visitors on the back foot for the rest of the half. Hamilton enjoyed a few fast counters but were unable to convert these into points after being stopped short of the line. Finally, the last try of the game came from Sherry and was once again from a quickly taken penalty, mirroring his earlier try. Thomson successfully converted to add a further two points now 8-36. The rest of the game was spent by Hamilton on the defensive, as Cartha played for pride in trying to salvage the score. The Hamilton side showed a improvements defensively in comparison to previous games and held on until the final whistle.
The final score of 8-36 was perhaps an unfair reflection of the home team’s posed challenge. However, encouraging second half performance showed how much Hamilton’s 3XV have improved over the course of the season. This result keeps them top of the league with 3 games left to play. Special mention goes to senior rugby debutants Aaron “Pedro” Partridge and Stephen Wallace who both played impressively.
Next week we look to take full points from playing Kilmarnock 3XV and with nearest rivals Annan scheduled to play at Leigh Bent for the last game of the regular season, it promises to be an exciting finale.