Bulls grind out victory vs Selkirk
By JIm Browning
Hamilton 23 - Selkirk 14
On Saturday, Hamilton Bulls entertained Selkirk, fresh from their resounding victory at home to Kirkaldy who pipped the Bulls to the National division 2 title last season. The task facing the bulls was clear, but the young Bulls rose to the challenge of facing a borders’ opponent for the second consecutive week. From the off, bulls showed their intention to play with real attacking style, and got the scoreboard moving in 4 minutes. Following a midfield line break by lock Josh White
, the ball was moved right and smart interchange of passes between full back Ethan Aitken
and Craig Skilling
saw the latter dot down between the posts for McLeish to convert. Similar smart handling almost resulted in a second but Selkirk’s winger just won the race to touch down Craig Inglis
’ chip ahead.
Selkirk recovered from the Bulls’ whirlwind start and worked their way into the game and stand off Rory Banks just missed a penalty goal attempt on 11 minutes. The game went from one end of the pitch to the other and only stout Selkirk defence kept Hamilton out. Their defensive effort was rewarded on 22 minutes when their forwards played several accurate phases, resulting in Hamilton’s defence giving away a succession of penalties. Their defence was finally breeched by Hooker James Bett who forced his way over under the posts. Rory Banks added the extras.
Hamilton kept the pressure on and it was Selkirk whose discipline cracked next offering Mcleish the chance of a long range penalty attempt which floated between the uprights to retake the lead which they never surrendered. Next on the score sheet was full back Ethan Aitken
who finished off a slick handling move set up by the midfield break of flanker Gregor Brodie
. McLeish’s conversion attempt from out wide fell just short. Half time 15 – 7.
Bulls started the second half with the same attitude, securing possession form the kick off and swinging the ball wide to clear the way for Craig Inglis
to crash over out wide. Despite Selkirk’s attempts to reduce the leeway, Hamilton trusted their defence, and their attacking style. This resulted in some scrappy play but the Bulls edged this nervous period when McLeish knocked over another long range penalty to open up a 16 point gap. Injury to Inglis brought debutant Neil Kennedy
into the fray and his first task was to repel Sekirk’s determined attack. Keeping the ball tight in the forwards, they punched their way to the Hamilton five metre line, and a clever cross field kick let full back John Welsh cross the whitewash and Banks added the extras to reduce the leeway with15 minutes remaining.
Bulls continued to press and breaks by Man of the match, Robert Brown and Kennedy resulted in two quick penalties. Hamilton opted unsuccessfully to go for the posts from long range. Despite these misses against the breeze , the young Bulls looked after possession well enough to hold on for their first Nat 1 win of the season. Coach Gemmell acknowledged the efforts of his players. “I thought we looked after the ball much better this week, but still showed the attacking flair that these guys are capable of. There will be no easy matches in this division, but I am confident that the boys have a game plan and the skills to bring it on to the pitch.”
Next up is the visit of Cartha QP, on Saturday 15th September, kick off 3pm.