THERE were nearly perfect rugby conditions as Hillfoots RFC welcomed a newly promoted Aberdeenshire side to Tillicoultry.

The sun was out with little wind and there was not a lot that separated the two sides in the opening 20 minutes of the weekend's game.

After a series of penalties against them, ‘Foots were reduced to 14 for 10 minutes as young debutant flanker Gregor Lumsden was shown a yellow card for a high tackle.

Towards the end of the sin-bin period, ’Shire managed to get the first points on the board with a penalty from their fly-half.

With the half coming to a close, ‘Foots finished the stronger. Some great field position was gained through the boot of Fraser Christie. Some strong forward carries got the home side close but the ‘Shire defence held firm. Iain Anderson thought he had got over the line but the referee did not award the score.

There was a scrum inside Aberdeenshire RFC's 22 with h the last play of the half and ‘Foots secured the ball. Slick hands from the backs managed to get the ball into the hands of Martin McNee and the newlywed finished well in the corner. The conversion from Grant Carmichael was missed giving ‘Foots a narrow 5-3 lead at half-time.

The home side started the second half as they finished the first with some strong runs from Anderson and Paul Slade. ‘Shire gave away a penalty in front of the posts that Christie made no mistake in slotting between the uprights.

‘Foots kept up the pressure but was unable to add any further scores. McNee and fellow winger Ryan Butterworth were making yards round the outside but ‘Foots were unable to make the pressure in the red zone count.

The pressure eventually told for ‘Shire and after an accumulation of penalties, they were reduced to fourteen following a yellow card. Following some naughty words directed towards the referee for his decision, the yellow was upgraded to a red and ‘Shire would be reduced to fourteen for the remaining twenty minutes.

The ball was kicked to the corner and ‘Foots secured their own lineout. After a good initial maul drive, hooker Keith Slade rode the challenge of two would-be tacklers to power over the line. The conversion drifted wide from Carmichael but, importantly, ‘Foots were now more than a converted score clear.

With ten minutes to go, ‘Shire were pushing for a score and it eventually came. After multiple of phases inside ‘Foots’ twenty-two, the defence eventually broke and ‘Shire went over in the corner. The conversion was missed but there was all to play for.

‘Shire were now in the ascendency but some desperate defence from all those on the park kept the away side out. Eventually, Ian Lightley managed to turn the ball over and it was kicked out to bring an end to the game.

Hillfoots ran out 13-8 winners in a very entertaining match. With few clear-cut chances, it eventually came down to defence and thankfully it went the way of ‘Foots. The whole squad showed great heart and determination to dig in and grind out their first win of the season.

Fraser Christie’s boot and class made a difference in the backline with Ryan Butterworth making a number of breaks that lead to good field position.

Jamie Hunter was awarded man of the match following a great shift in both attack and defence after a recent switch to the flank and not playing for a number of years.

The 1st XV are off on their travels to second placed Ellon on 1st October.