Lasswade 22 - 14 Hamilton
Disappointing Day As Bulls Return Empty Handed
Lasswade 22 - 14 Hamilton
In a game of contrasting styles, Hamilton’s expansive off-loading approach was stifled by the strong-arm tactics of the home side, who probably just deserved their 22-14 victory. The Bulls now slip to fourth in the NL2 Table, behind Kirkcaldy, Lasswade and Dumfries, but with a game in hand over the leading trio.
That game in hand, against Whitecraigs, will be played this Friday (10th November) under the floodlights at Whitecraigs. (See the web-site for details.)
The loss at Lasswade could be regarded as one of a multitude of small cuts. There are still players missing through injury, there were players unavailable, there were injuries on the day, there was a gusty wind which made handling difficult and there was a young exchange referee whose interpretations on a number of occasions, differed from those of this observer.
Add to that the fact that Bulls players were shown three yellow cards over the piece and you might begin to get the picture. The yellows were not unreasonable, but it seemed that had consistency applied, at least a couple of the home players would have had periods in the ‘cooler’. As it was, their only yellow was a token gesture in stoppage time.
Given all that, there was a still a feeling of ‘one that got away.’ There were some near things, but as President Leggate suggested ‘if your Auntie had been anatomically different, she would have been your Uncle.’ (Not a direct quote, but this is a family show.)
The home side dominated the early scrums, doing enough damage to cause the referee to award a series of penalties, each of which went to a further scrum. Despite an astonishing steal by Adam Ryan to deny one scoring opportunity, the Lasswade pack finally drove over for flanker Douglas Hearn to score. Andrew Bell landed the tricky conversion into the wind and the Bulls were 7-0 down after 7 minutes, having barely touched the ball.
The next 20 minutes saw Hamilton produce some of their trademark attacking play. They stayed patient and went through multiple phases to test the home defence, unfortunately spawning only a series of those ‘if only’ moments.
Josh White tapped a free-kick and made ground before a long pass just failed to go to hand. Jordan McLean was held up just short after some great handling and Scott Whitelaw couldn’t quite find Ross Jamieson with a scoring pass.
Lasswade ground away at the scrums and played a safe, if unimaginative one or two out game, but their aggression at the contact points allowed them to maintain possession. Hamilton maintained good discipline in defence and the home side offered little scoring threat.
When the ball was coughed up in the Hamilton 22, a fabulous handling move featuring RJ, Craig Skilling and Andy Wilson took Skilling close, before quick ball from the ruck went wide across the pitch to James Howatson for the sort of try the Laigh Bent faithful have come to expect. Owen McLeish popped over the conversion and out was 7-7.
With half-time looming Lasswade’s pack picked and drove a series of short-range penalties before number eight Jamie Graham was driven over, but the conversion slid wide.
The Bulls had a chance to score on the stroke of half-time when McLeish kicked accurately to the corner, Richard Maxton took clean line-out ball (as he did for most of the afternoon) and the pack drove forward to the home line. However the maul went to ground and worse, Scott Alexander was penalised and shown yellow.
Lasswade struck almost from the restart. A Bulls put-in to the scrum was kicked through and the ball was fed to centre Mark Wilson who bustled blind, bumping off several would-be tacklers to score an opportunist try. Bell’s conversion stretched it to 19-7.
Hamilton defended well whilst a man down, and when restored to full-strength, began to play more of their high-tempo, multi-phase game. To give credit to the home side, as the Bulls swept from side to side stringing passes together, there was always a Lasswade defender in position to deny the score, but the Hamilton try, when it came was unstoppable.
After too many phases to count, McLeish dinked the ball over the flat defensive line and Andy Wilson dived to catch the ball on the full and touch down. McLeish converted and at 19-14 it was game-on.
Despite what looked like an excessively over robust hand-off by Lasswade winger Matthew Smith, James Howatson put in a powerful tackle, only for Howatson to see yellow for ‘dumping’.
The home side stuck to one and two out passes, grinding out the metres and denying the Bulls the ball before Mark Wallace joined Howatson on the sidelines for a high tackle. Bell’s successful kick made it 22-14 and there was no way back.
In an other ‘if only’ moment McLeish struck a delightful kick-pass to unmarked space on Skilling’s wing, but as he went to gather, the ball bounced unkindly into touch. This observer’s (admittedly green and blue) eyes felt that a try then, to earn a ‘narrow loss’ bonus point would have been a fairer return than to come home empty handed.