Under 18s Hit the BULLSeye
By Ross Whiteside
22 man performance wins the day
Hamilton’s U18’s travelled to Biggar to start the second half of Shogun Conference fixtures with the challenge of showing the other teams in the league that they had improved since they had last met.
A sunny but cold Hartree Mill welcomed the Young Bulls but that wasn’t going to deter them from putting in their best performance of the season so far.
The game started with Hamilton winning most of the opening exchanges and after 9 minutes Ruari Gartshore slotted over a penalty to reward the opening passages of play.
Soon after, Hamilton’s Backs started moving the ball well into wide areas. This resulted in a try for No:12 Jordan Craig out wide on the right. Conversion added and the score line was 0-10 after 12 mins.
With the whole team, now playing with confidence and playing the game plan, they scored again after winning their own scrum. No:10 Andrew Greenen exploited an over drift in the Biggar’s defence to glide thru the gap between 10 and 12 and run in from 50 meters out to score. Simple conversion added, and the score moved to 0-17.
5 minutes later, another Scrum for Hamilton just outside their own 22 resulted in 10 and 12 exchanging passes and creating a gap for No:13 Dain Morrow to burst thru after running a superb tight line, with the ball dotted down under the posts and the conversion added it was 0-24 and Hamilton’s dominance was showing on the scoreboard.
The home team really hadn’t threatened the Hamilton line at all, with the Bull’s Forwards working hard at the breakdown to retain ball for their Back’s to use. After a few phases from the forwards had gained the ‘hard yards’ inside their own half, the ball was given to Jordan Craig who burst thru a penalised high tackle to run 50 meters unopposed and score his 2nd try. Converted again and the score line moved to 0-31.
That was all the scoring in the first half, but Biggar were clearly starting to get frustrated with the way things were going and after conceding a few penalties in quick succession had a player Yellow Carded for yet another penalty at the breakdown.
At half time the Young Bulls were told to expect their opponents to come out fighting and this was the case when the 2nd half got underway. Biggar had a period of sustained pressure inside the Hamilton 22, but after comprehensive defensive work in the last few weeks at training, this group of players showed that it was paying off and were determined to fight for each other even without the ball. 13 phases of Biggar trying to break the line were met with a defensive effort not seen so far this season and eventually after being met with as much aggression in defence as they were showing in attack they spilled the ball in contact. From the resulting scrum, Hamilton kicked clear and after a great ‘kick chase’ had resulted in turnover ball, the ball was quickly shipped to the backs and after a clever grubber kick from Jordan Craig, right wing Blair Sutherland chased and manged to beat Biggar’s covering defender to the ball. Nudging it forward and getting a good bounce, he gathered to run in under the posts for another converted score. 0-38
With 46 mins gone, Biggar finally troubled the scoreboard and after working hard they gained quick ball which resulted in an overlap out wide and they scored their first try which was converted.
9 minutes later, Biggar again found themselves inside Hamilton’s 22, and after 3 or 4 ‘pick and goes’ the Bull’s ran out of defenders close to the breakdown and a final pick meant that they scored under the posts. Once again it was converted and the score line was 14-38.
Biggar were growing in confidence now, but Hamilton stayed strong in defence and after running out of options, Biggar’s 10 tried a speculative ‘up and under’ which went higher than it did forward, Jordan Craig climbed highest to take a superb catch and ran in from half way unchallenged. 14-45.
With possession being shared for the next 5 or so minutes, Biggar had the put in to a scrum inside their own half, but a strike from Hamilton’s hooker Cameron Irvine resulted in a win against the head and turnover ball. Hamilton’s Backs quickly set up their attacking line, put the ball thru the hands, creating an overlap out on the left wing and Ruari Gartshore was over in the corner notching up the half century. 14-50
To their credit Biggar didn’t give up until the final whistle and with Hamilton starting to tire after the amount of effort put in over the previous 69 minutes, they lost their defensive shape and Biggar scored the final points of the game after some good forward play. With that try converted the final score was 21-50 to the Young Bulls and they had secured their first victory of the season.
The effort that has been put in recently by this group of young men is starting to pay off, the team spirit has always been there and after this performance the belief that they can compete at this level should be there as well. There were no Man of the Match performances on Saturday, all 22 players that travelled on the match day, along with the players that didn’t make the squad deserve credit for the improvement shown.
Once again the Bulls were cheered on from the touchline by a great number of supporters and the squad and Coaching team really do appreciate it week in week out.
Report Written by Phil Butcher