A STRONG Hillfoots 1st XV travelled to face a Grangemouth team who were sitting second in the table over the weekend and returned to the Wee County with a victory.

With heavy rainfall overnight, the pitch was heavy underfoot but thankfully the weather held for the match itself.

Anticipated to be a close affair, an early penalty awarded to the home side in front of the posts was too good an opportunity not to take. The Grangemouth kicker slotted the easy kick.

This was a slight wake up call for ‘Foots who sprang into action. Sustained pressure resulted in a penalty just outside the twenty-two. Former Stag Gregor Manson stepped up and kicked the three points with ease.

With the tide now in the visitors’ favour and a spring in their step, strong runs from Vodo Millard and Paul Slade were making yards and putting ‘Foots on the front foot. With sustained pressure, Grangemouth were forced to keep conceding penalties. Eventually, one was within Manson’s range who knocked it over with ease.

About half-way through the half, Hillfoots managed to score a well worked try. Grangemouth had a scrum in their own twenty-two and a great push from the ‘Foots pack put them under pressure.

Captain Duncan Arthur expertly managed to steal a turnover which was spread wide to winger Iain McGregor. He showed his experience to beat his man and score in the corner. Manson’s effort from the touchline drifted just wide.

Just before the break, ‘Foots unfortunately were reduced to 14 after Daryl Lindsay was sent to the sin bin. He can feel a bit aggrieved after being judged to have tackled too high as the Grangemouth player ducked into the tackle. The home side took the three points that were on offer to reduce the deficit before the break.

With the extra man, Grangemouth came out strong at the start of the second half but the ‘Foots defence repelled any threats. Keith Slade and Iain Anderson, in particular, were ferocious in defence.

Just before Lindsay returned, the home side were gifted the lead back after being awarded a penalty try.

After chipping through, the Grangemouth full back ran into his opposing Hillfoots man and went down claiming to have been blocked.

The referee saw this as a try scoring opportunity, despite the ball going over the dead ball line, and awarded the penalty try and consequently the lead.

Felling a little aggrieved, ‘Foots elected to channel their frustration into their rugby and began moving the ball around.

The bigger Grangemouth pack were tiring, and holes were beginning to appear. Scrum-half Callum Williamson jinked through a gap and the covering player was shown a yellow card for a high tackle. Having a good day with the boot, Manson split the uprights and put ‘Foots back in front by a point.

Going into the closing part of the game, the tension and tempers for Grangemouth boiled over as their scrum half was shown a red card for throwing a punch. This killed any last-minute chances of Grangemouth stealing the game.

Hillfoots eventually ran out 17-13 winners in another hard-fought victory, their third on the bounce.

The team now have a three week break before facing Blairgowrie on November 27 while the 2nd XV travel to Howe Crusaders on the same day.