Bulls edged out in thriller
By JIm Browning
Hamilton 27 – Cartha QP 28
The challenge of life in Tennent’s National Division 1 was brought home to Hamilton Bulls on Saturday when they went agonizingly close to a second victory, beaten by the width of the cross bar in the final minute. The Hamilton support departed at the end with genuine disappointment and frustration. This was echoed by coach David Gemmell who, while praising the effort and skills of his young charges, commented “We cannot keep putting ourselves under pressure by conceding early tries and playing catch up rugby”.
Indeed that description summed up the game. Hamilton opened with some determined attacking play but a soft penalty gave away possession and Cartha made their way into Hamilton territory. Their big forwards punched holes in the middle of the Hamilton defence and on 6 minutes stand off Burrows broke clear to score close in and then convert his own try. Hamilton conceded possession again from the kick off sending Cartha on the attack again. This time their forwards did the damage with a series of pick and goes sending prop Juan Phyfer over under the posts for an easy conversion.
Hamilton again responded and went straight onto the attack. And within 4 minutes got their first score with a try from Craig Inglis
. The forwards worked a clever maul driving deep int o Cartha’s 22 and when the ball was released to McLeish he sent a wide pass to Inglis who crashed over wide out. The conversion was unsuccessful. However McLeish added 3 more from the boot after Cartha were penalised for not releasing in the tackle. Despite this, Cartha stretched their lead on the 25th minute after stripping the ball from Hamilton at the tackle and moving the ball swiftly through the hands. Lock Ethan Paterson found himself on the end of the move to dot down under the posts. Burrows converted. With time running out in the first half Hamilton struck again, following a penalty kick to the corner. Hamilton secured the ball from the lineout and Scott Alexander
broke off aand crashed through for McLeish to convert. Half time 15 – 21.
Hamilton were shocked by Cartha’s energy at the start of the second period. Despite Cartha centre Ewen Campbell being sin binned for not releasing in the tackle, it was Cartha who hit the ground running with a clever try from winger Jacob Adamson. Again the platform was laid by the forwards whose ball retention and accurate phase rugby released Burrows whose kick pass to the wing out flanked the Hamilton defence which had been pulled narrow by the forward surges. Again Bulls hit back and on the hour mark the forward pressure forced Cartha into conceding a series of scrum penalties, until Hamilton were awarded a penalty try narrowing the gap to 6 points.
The final 10 minutes were hotly contested, but Cartha’s defence which had been excellent throughout seemed to be holding on. However with 3 minutes left on the clock flanker Graham Williamson was sent to the bin for repeated infringements at the breakdown. Hamilton capitalised immediately by launching the forwards off a lineout and hooker Grant McCowan
forced his way over in the corner. Against the wind, the conversion drifted wide but the final say once again went to Hamilton who were awarded a penalty 45 metres out. Captain Mark Wallace
opted to attempt the conversion despite the wind and distance. McLeish’s strike was excellent and looked to have won the match only to see the ball stall in the wind and drop onto the cross bar and rebound. Cartha left with a well deserved 5 points, and Hamilton had to be satisfied with 2 bonus points.
Hamilton travel to Dundee next week to face old rivals Dundee High School FPs knowing that they will need to improve their ball retention in the contact areas, while having confidence in their own attacking style. Injuries to Craig Inglis
, Gareth Jones
and Scott Alexander
could be a concern for selection next week.