Hamilton grab precious points
By JIm Browning
Cartha 14 - Hamilton 16
Hamilton Bulls made the short journey to Glasgow’s Southside to face Cartha who had taken the spoils in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, determined not to repeat that result. The rain was of biblical proportions, turning the pitch quickly into a quagmire, meaning that the Bulls could not play their normal expansive game, and against Cartha’s strong pack, they were up against it from the off.
Cartha had clear dominance at the set piece, but Hamilton showed from early on that they had no intention of surrendering to the forward pressure, number 8 Gareth Jones
frequently showing real courage to protect possession at the back of a retreating scrum. The bulls found themselves fighting a rearguard action for much of the game, but coach David Gemmell was delighted with the way his team retained its defensive shape and made their tackles count, on a day when holding on to the slippy ball was almost impossible.
From turn over ball, Hamilton used the boot of Owen McLeish
to work their way up field, and on 12 minutes were rewarded when, after a series of forward drives the ball was released to Owen McLeish
whose deft grubber kick was pounced on by Ross Jamieson
for a try under the posts converted by McLeish. Cartha wasted no time in replying. Using the power of their pack they drove to within 5 metres of the Bulls’ line. Their scrum was totally dominant and Bulls conceded 2 penalties at the scrum, and on their 3rd reset they were awarded a penalty try to level the match. Within 5 minutes the Cartha’s scrum repeated the dose for another penalty try.
Nonetheless Bulls dug in, and began to gain parity in the scrum. They then spent 10 minutes deep in Cartha territory, but like Bulls their defence was strong. However Mcleish capitalised with a well struck penalty 2 minutes from half time after Cartha had infringed in the loose. Half time Cartha 14 – Bulls 10.
With the pitch deteriorating, the second half became a slog in the mud. Bulls missed a long range penalty from the restart. Both sides gave it their all both in attack and defence, and both had opportunities to score. Hamilton’s defence was immense turning over Cartha ball on their own line several times. Cartha missed a penalty shot on 47 minutes, and it became clear that the match might be decided by the boot, as indeed it was. McLeish used his long kicks to clear his lines and eventually knocked over the 2 penalties Hamilton needed to snatch victory. By the end, both teams were unrecognisable, covered as they were, from head to toe in mud.
This was not a game for the purists in such horrendous conditions, but the sheer determination of the Hamilton lads won the day and at the end of the match it was clear what this victory meant to the team. Coach Gemmell said, “I am really proud of the lads today. They showed real grit, real courage under pressure. They looked after the ball and their decision making at crucial moments was excellent. I think we deserved the win, but credit to Cartha who put their everything into an enthralling match.” Final score – Cartha 14, Hamilton 16.