HILLFOOTS welcomed Blairgowrie RFC to Tilly Park on Saturday for their first game of 2022 and worked hard for what was eventually a comfortable win.

Unfortunately for all involved, the weather was atrocious, with a howling gale and, at times, rain and sleet lashing the exposed pitch, but the weather couldn't halt the Wee County side as they won 23-3.

Straight from kick-off, the Hillfoots pack took the game to their opponents with a series of strong drives designed to set up scoring opportunities for the backs.

On the 20 minute mark, with the Blairgowrie try-line proving impregnable, Hillfoots took the opportunity to pop over a simple penalty kick for a 3-0 lead, Gregor Manson doing the honours.

That advantage was doubled five minutes later when Manson slotted another three-pointer from a more difficult angle.

As the first half progressed and the weather worsened, Hillfoots were having by far the bulk of the possession but were struggling to create any meaningful try-scoring opportunities.

The burly Blairgowrie pack were putting in a mighty defensive shift and Foots were beginning to get a little frustrated.

However, with the last play of the half, some classy handiwork from the home backline resulted in the opening try.

Eventually the break came and 'Foots were up 11-0.

The home side were feeling that the score-line was scant reward for the amount of possession they'd had, but credit must be given to the visitors who had shown great fortitude in defence.

After a quick half-time turnaround, the second period was a bit more open than the first, with both sides increasingly looking to get their backs more involved, despite the difficult conditions.

Blairgowrie were successful with an early penalty attempt to narrow the deficit to 11-3.

With about 15 minutes remaining, and Blairgowrie gradually becoming more of an attacking threat, the Tillicoultry boys scored a try which effectively put the game to bed. It was Christie who again showed his class, picking up a loose ball in midfield and ghosting past a couple of would-be tacklers to find himself in space.

There was time, just before the final whistle, for Foots to add one more score. A loose ball on the right touchline was unorthodoxly volleyed towards the goal line by hooker Elliot Firth.

It landed over the line where a Blairgowrie player attempted to dive on it to prevent a try, but he slipped and missed. A second defender then appeared to get the required downward pressure on the ball, but the referee waved play on.

Danny Cockroft then got his hand on the ball and was awarded the try in rather controversial circumstances. With the visitors making their displeasure at the decision loud and clear to the impassive referee, Manson added the extras, and the full-time whistle was blown.

In the end, it was a comfortable score-line for the home team but an uncomfortable day due to the unpleasant weather conditions.

There was disappointment at not securing the bonus point that a fourth try would have garnered, but Blairgowrie put in a very strong defensive performance and will prove tough opponents in the return fixture in March.