Depleted Under 15’s Have Black Day Against Hamilton

Stewartry U15 XV  7 vs  27 Hamilton U15 XV

In their second pool match in the West U15 cup the Stewartry side played host to a Hamilton side that had garnered a solid reputation and a winning record. Shorn of several key players due to injury, the Stewartry were also on something of a roll recently and were keen to pit their wits against a form side. Firstly however, the players paid their respects with a minutes silence to the memory of a Stewartry 1st XV player, Scott Carson. Scott grow up playing with the Stewartry Sharks before progressing into the 1st XV representing the club 48 times.

The conditions at the Greenlaw were atrocious with a vicious wind blowing strongly down the pitch and Hamilton chose to play with it in the first half. The first error of the match came when the Stewartry did not make ten metres with their kick off and this wind was to disrupt lineouts and handling for the whole match.

The match settled quite quickly into the pattern that would be played out for the next hour. Hamilton chose not to contest most rucks too vigorously and so the Stewartry had a lot of ball but could not make ground in the backs due to an injury forced reshuffle and the good Hamilton tackling. Stewartry made good ground with a pick and go game into the wind, but were not patient enough to keep the progress going and error free. When Hamilton turned the ball over they used their dangerous backs to make ground and stretched the Stewartry defence.

The first Hamilton try came from sustained pressure following a good outside arc from their inside centre who crossed the try line only to knock-on under pressure from the scramble defence. Stewartry defended a sequence of five meter scrums, largely due to the efforts of Murray Mc Kenzie and Andrew Boden at prop and Robbie Briggs and Zak Hunter at lock. Eventually however, the Hamilton number eight scored from close range from the back of a scrum after a subtle bit of shepherding kept Patrick Quigley away from making a tackle. Their second came from a well worked try in which a wide back was put away by good handing to score out wide. The wind, now gale force and stinging with rain, made the missed conversions unsurprising.

As Hamilton looked to develop some control, the Stewartry strung together another successful phase attack. Winning scrums easily, with good hooking from Thomas Unthank, and lineouts, as long as Paddy Traynor was aiming for Fraser Gibson at the front, the Stewartry used their possession to grind forward. Hard carries from David Martin, Connor Clanachan and Jack Mc Garva all made ground into the Hamilton 22 only for Hamilton to handle in a ruck and give away a penalty. Pacey Ho took a quick tapped penalty and made good ground on the left. This was taken on by Bowden and Fin Bailie with Hamilton laying their bodies on the line to keep these drives out. Eventually Young with some smart thinking ran a dummy line leaving space for Martin to dive over from less than a metre out. Peter Young converted, from out on the 15m line despite the swirling wind..

Half time saw Hamilton with a 10-7 lead but the Stewartry must have been confident of pulling the score back as they were playing with a gale at their backs in the second half.

Sure enough, the Stewartry pushed forward, helped especially by good diagonal kicks by Martin which set up a platform deep in the Hamilton 22. For the best part of ten minutes the Stewartry hammered at the door, but credit must be paid to the Hamilton defence that continued to frustrate the Stewartry attack by holding up their attackers as they drove for the line. Baillie and Boden, both came close but their body angles were too upright and Hamilton eventually cleared their lines and raised the siege.

Having missed their chance, the Stewartry saw the match gradually drift away from them as Hamilton scored three tries and a conversion, curtesy of strong runs by their outside backs. The Stewartry defence became stretched as injuries to Martin and Gibson, and flagging levels of fitness, gave Hamilton too many spaces to exploit. Even at this late stage there were periods when the Stewartry had possession to attack from, but cold fingers were getting the better of the half back link and Young found it increasingly difficult to bring his team mates into the game.

In the end, all the players were glad to come off the pitch to try to thaw out their freezing fingers and bodies while the Stewartry players will have two weeks to work on their defence and ball control before their next cup match.

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