Hamilton Under 18s approached Saturday’s Semi Final of the National Bowl, in the knowledge that if they were successful then they would be writing themselves into the history books of Hamilton Rugby Club. This would be the first time in the clubs history that a Hamilton Under 18 team has made it to a national final.
Ellon arrived at Hamilton after a long bus journey from the North East, to a sun drenched Light bent and perfect conditions for a game of rugby. Hamilton were to use the home game and the advantage of a massive crowd of almost 200 supporters to gain the edge in this tense encounter.
As the game kicked off, Hamilton went straight to work and as they received the kick off, the ball was distributed to the back line, who broke the line immediately and set the young bulls on a charge well into the Ellon half. This move came to an end as the last pass was deemed to be knocked on and much to the relief of Ellon, they were awarded a scrum. The relief was short lived as Hamilton won the scrum against the head and from the ball received, chipped the Ellon back line and as the Bulls scrambled to get ball over the Ellon try line, it was judged to be knocked on.
Ellon were not out of trouble yet, even although it was their scrum, it was on their own five metre line and they still had to clear the ball. Again Hamilton stole the ball against the head and it was shipped to the backs, who attacked the Ellon line through the middle. This was repelled and the ball was recycled, Hamilton then attacked out wide. By this time the forwards had got back up with play and Cameron Millar went over the Ellon try line from close in to set the Bulls on the way. Liam Bell converted from out wide with a great kick.
Ellon tried to get into the game at this point but Hamilton kept the pressure on and the game was played in the Ellon half. Hamilton came close again but were bundled into touch in goal.
It was almost half way through the half, when another line break from Hamilton and a beautiful offload between the centres set Stuart Whitelaw clear, with only the fullback to beat, a nicely timed pass to flanker Robbie Whelan resulted in Whelan scoring the Bulls second try. Again Bell converted to take the score to 14-0.
Ellon were not beaten yet and spent the next ten minutes applying pressure to the Hamilton line in their first period of concerted pressure of the match. The visitors did get the ball over the line but the Referee decided that the ball had been dropped in the process of scoring. Hamilton had to dig deep to keep the Ellon team out and eventually Hamilton were awarded a scum and managed to clear their lines with a great kick.
Hamilton then turned on the pressure once again and spent the rest of the half in the Ellon territory. It was not long into this period during a number of attacks at the Ellon line that Calder Dallas drove over the line using his strength to burst through the Ellon defence. Converted once again from Bell this took the score to 21-0.
As the half time whistle neared, Hamilton managed another attack at the visitors line this time It was Aaron Partridge on the wing that showed his counterpart a clean pair of heels as he sprinted in and scored in the corner. Unfortunately with the last kick of the half Bell narrowly missed the conversion and the Score was 26-0 at the half.
The second half started and again Hamilton went to work straight away it, was not long before the forwards applied pressure with a number of offloads this put Ellon on the back foot and Andrew Ferguson, used his power to drive over for a well worked forwards try. The score was now 31-0
Ellon appeared at this point, to have no answer and it was to their credit that their heads did not go down and they continued to try and affect the result. Hamilton on the other hand were ringing the changes, using the substitutes to freshen the legs and it was to their credit that the team still kept their shape and composure despite a mounting penalty count for offside against them. Despite this Hamilton still managed a final well worked try. Attacking though the middle, it left the Ellon forward pack the wrong side of the ruck and with quick ball recycled winger Cameron Kane received the ball with enough space for him to use his speed to finish of the move with a try in the corner. The conversion was not made and the score was now 36-0.
The game was not over and with 15 minutes to go Hamilton found themselves on their own try line, defending against some stern Ellon pressure. After 2 penalties against them, The Referee lost patience with the Hamilton team and made an example of the Hamilton Full back giving him ten minutes in the sin bin for the teams repeated penalties. Ellon needed no invitation to take advantage of this numerical advantage and used the resulting five metre penalty, to score their first score of the day beneath the posts. With an easy conversion the score was now 36-7.
From the restart Ellon worked out where the weakness was and took advantage of the lack of full back. Twice their winger managed to break the Hamilton line out wide and with no natural cover, Hamilton were scrambling to protect their try line. The first attack was snuffed out, but the second got through and Ellon scored another well-deserved try. This was not converted and the score was now 36-12. Four minutes later Hamilton returned to full numbers and they convincingly defended the score for the last few minutes of the game.
Hamilton Under 18s now go forward to the final to play Peebles who beat Glasgow Hawks in the other semi-final. This will take place on Monday the 15th of April. While previously this has been at Murrayfield, the venue has still to be confirmed for this year.
This young team now have an opportunity, to not only be the first Hamilton team of any age to win a National title but the first Under 18 team from the West of Scotland to win one of the National youth league titles since they were introduced in 2010.
This young Bulls team is a product of a successful youth system at the Club with a number of the players having played at the club since they were five years old. There has been a lot of hard work put in by a number of coaches, the boy’s parents and guardians and of course the boys themselves to get to this position and the whole club is hoping that they can build on the fantastic achievement of reaching the final with one more great performance.