Bulls stay in contention with bonus point away win
Hamilton Bulls’ senior sides had a clean sweep at the weekend with the Ladies beating Liberton 26 – 20; the 3rd XV were awarded a walk over win against Irvine 2nd XV keeping them in second place in West Reserve league 1; The 2nd XV had a fantastic home win against Stirling County by 35 points to 26 and the first XV had a bonus point win on the road at Preston Lodge, keeping them in second place in National League 2, well placed to continue their promotion push.
In bright spring weather, ideal for fast flowing rugby, the Bulls faced a determined Preston Lodge side desperate to prove their NL2 credentials. Hamilton weathered early pressure, and the boot of Owen McLeish got them into PL territory. PL messed up their exit giving the bulls an attacking scrum. Bulls applied pressure up front, but obstruction in the maul gave PL an exit opportunity. PL’s backs showed the threat they possessed by breaking down field, stopped by good defence from Andy Wilson. For the first time in several weeks, Hamilton’s scrum was under pressure, and possession was scrappy, allowing PL into the game. They squandered an opportunity to get the scoreboard moving missing a penalty opportunity.
The patience and accuracy of Hamilton’s recent performances was missing in the early exchanges however the deadlock was broken in the 20th minute when Scrum Half, Hugo Crush, found space at the base of a ruck to force his way over, after some good phases of forward pressure. McLeish added the extras, but were immediately put under severe pressure from the PL forwards. Hamilton turned over possession and attacked from deep, Ross Inglis making ground deep into PL territory. Hamilton’s handling showed real improvement and they finished the half on the attack, although Scott Alexander was denied a score when the ref adjudged the offload pass to be forward . Half time PL 0 – Hamilton 7.
Hamilton Introduced their Subs and the second half began with Hamilton continuing where they left off, the bullocking runs of Sub Josh White carrying them deep into PL territory. The rejigged scrum now found its feet and began to dominate. Bulls got the scoreboard moving when Scott Alexander dotted down for a push over try. Mcleish again added the extras only to be substituted minutes later with Wilson going in to stand off and experienced Craig Inglis on at Full Back PL were reduced to 14 when their prop was sin binned for repeated off side offences. Josh White took immediate advantage by barging over from 10 yards to score between the posts Wilson added the conversion. Despite their numerical disadvantage, PL continued to carry the game to Hamilton testing the Bulls’ defensive organisation. However it Was Hamilton who scored their bonus point try with 10 minutes remaining through Josh White again whose outrageous dummy saw him clean through the PL defence to score out wide. Wilson failed to convert. When Hamilton lost Jamieson to the sin bin for a deliberate knock on, PL finally got on the score board on the stroke of full time with a deserved and well worked converted try from a lineout maul. Final score Preston Lodge 7, Hamilton 26.
Coach Gemmell praised his team for their application and fitness, but complimented the opposition for their defensive effort way they made it difficult for his team to string together any sustained pressure. Updated 12:32 - 26 Mar 2018 by JIm Browning