Aberdeen Wanderers 14-47 Hillfoots

HILLFOOTS travelled north on Saturday with revenge in mind and came back deserved victors.

Only six weeks earlier the Tillicoultry club had suffered an agonising last-minute defeat to Wanderers in a National Shield match, leaving them determined to come away from Aberdeen with a victory this time.

On a glorious autumn day, it wasn't long before Foots had the first points on the board.

After five minutes, Keith Slade fired a long pass out to Fraser Christie in the centre who beat two men and passed inside to the supporting Calum Bruce who cantered over for the try. Christie added the extras and Foots were off and running.

Unfortunately, Foots were unable to add to their scoring in the first half. Christie dragged a long-range penalty kick wide of the left upright after about 25 minutes, and Duncan Arthur failed to properly ground the ball after making a searing break through the middle on the half-hour mark.

With half-time looming, the Wanderers inside centre chipped over the advancing Foots defence, was able to gather the ball and sprinted in unopposed. With the conversion added, the scores were tied at seven apiece.

There was just time for Wanderers to hit the bar with a penalty attempt with the last play of the half.

Coach Murray McKenzie was frustrated at half time because despite having plenty of possession, there were too many forced off-loads and loose passes which were keeping a rather limited Wanderers team in the game.

The message was to cut out the loose stuff, stick to the basics and the tries would come.

In the event, McKenzie's advice proved spot on. By being more direct, setting up solid ball and supporting well, Foots were soon out of sight in the second half.

First Bob Hodge flopped over after solid play off the back of the scrum from Arthur. Then strong rucking down the left flank led to the ball being passed inside to Connor Wilson who was fortunate that his attempted catch ricocheted into Keith Slade's welcoming arms. Slade gleefully barrelled over for the try.

Next, a lovely flowing passing move down the left was finished off by the classy Christie showing deft handling and footwork to bamboozle his opposite number on his way to try number four which secured the bonus point.

There was still a good twenty minutes to go but Foots kept the foot down. At a five-metre scrum, good pressure by the Foots tight five saw the ball squirt out the side.

Arthur was first to react, and he dotted down ahead of the despairing stretch of the home scrum half. Then strong carries from Iain Anderson and Paul Slade saw the ball popped to Christie and then Grant Carmichael who galloped the final 30 metres like a proud gazelle to score close to the posts.

Wanderers grabbed a consolation score with about 10 minutes left but there was still time for one more from the rampant Tilly men.

A loose clearance from Wanderers was gathered by Arthur who set off on a strong diagonal run before making the simple pass to winger Ross Kinnear who scampered in at the corner.

Christie converted all but one of the second half tries to cap a fine man-of-the-match performance. Coach McKenzie was a happy man at the final whistle, praising his troops for a much-improved showing in the second half.

Next up is a trip to local rivals Grangemouth Stags RFC on October 22 for a 3pm kick-off.