A solid if slightly nail-biting win with the bonus try frustratingly close.
By Richard Payne.
With seven wins (including away to Ardrossan) and a home draw (against Berwick) from fourteen, Hillhead were sitting plumb in the middle of the table like a banana skin for any visiting team.
Lasswade needed to dig further into its playing strength this week but none of the call-ups were debutants.
Fair weather overhead and a reasonably firm pitch promised some open rugby and both sides did not disappoint. The “opening exchanges” lasted all of the first quarter as ply swung from end to end gains. With the clock ticking into the second quarter Harte opened Hills’ account by punishing and offside at a ruck.
Just 5 minutes later Lasswade strung together a series of rucks before swing the ball wide out left and Hall found a gap to break down the wing and when about to be stopped, Gladstone was on his shoulder to take the offload and run in the last 20 metres to the posts for a straightforward Smith conversion.
Lasswade stayed slightly on top in the territorial and tactical departments and a few minutes past the half hour earned a short range penalty. A quick tap and go to Robertson, whom Hills had already found difficult to stop, who barrelled through the defence line to set up a converted try.
Hillhead replied with an assault on the visitors 22 but gave away an interception and Morris took the offload to win the 60 metre race to the corner and for once Smith’s conversion drifted wide.
3-19 looked like being the half-time score but another series of recycling rucks put Hills’ within striking distance and Scott picked a good angle to cross over but too far out for their kicker leaving the score at 8-19
Hills made the livelier start to the second period and within 5 minutes Harte touched down to narrow the gap to a perilously close 6 points.
With the twin incentives off making the game safe and earning a try bonus, Lasswade turned up the heat and twice looked to have scored in the corner only for it to be chalked off because of brush with the touchline on the way in.
Hills’ had their own chances but the Lasswade defence stayed solid.
It was some relief to all from Midlothian when the final whistle blew mixed with disappointment about the elusive bonus try.
Lasswade stay in third place but now just one point behind Ardrossan and eight points behind Berwick who have played one more game.
The Six Nations fills this weekend and Lasswade’s next fixture is a trip to West of Scotland on 15 February. Kick-off now back to 3pm.