GARIOCH RFC......................32 HILLFOOTS RFC..................24 Tennent's Caledonia Region League, Division 1

HILLFOOTS RFC made the trip up to Inverurie last Saturday, February 22 for a game against Garioch RFC in Caledonia Division.

The game kicked off in bright sunshine and Hillfoots were immediately on the attack. Strong play in the midfield by Elliott Chadwick set up quick ruck ball for Duncan Arthur to burst down the right wing. He fed inside to Alex Cameron who cantered in for an unconverted try within the first minute of the game.

Garioch came powering back, using their large pack to probe holes in the Hillfoots defence, eventually driving over for a converted score with barely five minutes played.

The pace of the game didn't let up and some nifty footwork by Fraser Christie bamboozled the home defence. He dodged three or four tackles and eventually burrowed over to score an impressive solo try. Young Tom Humphreys popped over the conversion and Foots were back in the lead.

It wasn't to last however as the robust Garioch pack worked their way over the line for a second try, this time unconverted. The scores were tied at 12-12 after a breathless first quarter.

Hillfoots began to feel the adverse effect of some over-officious refereeing, to the extent that it was affecting players' decision making on the pitch. It was disappointing that the referee appeared to have little empathy for the game, seeming determined to find fault in the most minor of indiscretions rather than letting the game flow.

Shortly before half-time Garioch worked their way over the Foots line again for a soft score meaning it was 17-12 to the home team at the break.

The Hillfoots boys were feeling as if they were playing against 16 men in the second half and couldn't get their attacking game functioning.

Another two tries, both unconverted, were conceded in the third quarter and victory was looking a forlorn hope. Things were to get worse when captain Keith Slade was shown a second yellow card for what appeared to be an innocuous offence.

Down to 14 men and three scores behind, Foots began to throw caution to the wind as they tried to drag themselves back into the game. Strong running from Christie and Chadwick in the midfield led to Humphreys sprinting under the posts for a try which he converted himself. Gavin Spowage rolled back the years with a strong run down the right touchline, chipping the ball past the onrushing winger. The ball was gathered and popped on to Paul Slade who barrelled his way over in the right corner for the bonus-point fourth try.

Suddenly, Foots were only three points behind and had the wind in their sails.

However, it was not to be as the Garioch pack once again managed to rumble their way over for a short-range score and deny Foots a losing bonus point.

Next week's fixture is a 3pm kick-off at home to Glenrothes.