U18s run Highland to the wire.
So far but so close! Bulls put in their best performance of the season.
An early start saw the Under 18s head North to Inverness to play their 5th game of the conference season. Last week was a lesson in belief and based on this week against the unbeaten Highland squad it was a lesson learned.
After 10 minutes Hamilton were first on the scoreboard with a penalty from Robbie MacDonald. continued pressure meant that Highland were giving away a lot of penalties and it was not that long before one was back in range of Robbie who converted his second from 35m out taking the score to 0-6. Unfortunately it was only five minutes later Highland managed to cross the Hamilton line with an unconverted try to take the score to 5-6. A further ten minutes of fantastic rugby saw a third penalty, this time forty metres out but Robbie using the wind converted easily giving the Bulls a marginal advantage at 5-9
The half was not finished and Highland caught Hamilton sleeping after a ruck infringement, tapping and running at the Hamilton line scoring in the corner as the young Bulls tried to scramble their defence. With the score 10-9 at the half this match had everything to play for.
With the wind now in favour of Highland the second half saw them gain a lineout near the Hamilton tryline which then became a concentrated period of pressure on the Hamilton line. The heart shown by the young Bulls as they fought off attack after attack on their line was some of the best defence shown by the squad this season. Unfortunately the penalty count against Hamilton was helping Highland and they took advantage of a quick tap penalty from the Hamilton five metre line and they were over the line before Hamilton could react. So the score was 15-9
With new resolve Hamilton went in the offensive and had their own period of pressure and this time Highland gave penalties away helping Hamilton keep the pressure on. This pressure resulted in a ruck in front of the posts and the ball was skilfully shipped to the wing where Jordan Craig skipped over the line and managed to travel almost to the posts before placing the ball on the ground. Robbie MacDonald converted easily for the Bulls to take the lead once again 15-16. Twenty minutes left on the clock and the game continued as the physical battle that had entertained the crowd for the previous fifty minutes. Unfortunately Hamilton then lost a player to a yellow card for a number of infringements in the red zone but with ten minutes to go when Hamilton were attacking the Highland line the ball was spilled and Highland broke through the Hamilton defence, despite four tackles from the Bulls , the support for the break and some skillful offloads allowed Highland to run the length of the pitch to score the final score of the match finishing the score at 20-16.
Last week it was reiterated that the score of the matches did not matter compared to the performance. With this young team putting in their best performance of the season, despite losing this match this was another milestone in their rugby path. The coaches concluded that they can not ask any more than constant improvement.
A massive thanks to Highlands for their hospitality. Also a fantastic effort once again, for the travelling Hamilton support who obviously made a supreme effort to watch the boys so far from home. Finally a special thanks to Graeme Bruce who managed to bring most of the game to Hamilton and even Europe via his live streaming abilities. Great work Graeme. Thanks for pictures by our travelling photographer Libby Hague.
Next week a double header with our 2nd XV as both teams take on Boroughmuir at Meggateland both with a 2pm kick off. With the 2ndXV playing in the top reserve league in the country this double header just reinforces why The Shogun Conference is the preparation our youth players need for moving to senior rugby at Hamilton.