Glenrothes Rugby 28, Hillfoots 27
Glens left it late to win the points over Hillfoots, a Shaun Gray try and touchline conversion on the stroke of full time giving them a 28-27 victory.
Glens started well with their ruck and set piece working far better than they had at Gordonians last weekend.
The home team were rewarded with an early Stewart Hainey try and Gray conversion followed by an second from winger Jordan Grubb which Gray also converted for a 14 nil lead.
Hillfoots battled their way back into the contest though and went into the half time break ahead 15-14 courtesy of two tries, a conversion and a penalty.
With the advantage of the Carleton slope Glens were quick to take advantage thanks to a second Hainey try and Gray conversion.
Hillfoots once again fought their way back into the match thanks to some robust defending and getting the better of the decisions at the ruck. An unconverted try drew them just a point short of the increasingly frustrated Glens.
Gray had the opportunity to put the Glens 24-20 ahead with a seemingly simple kick in front of the posts but he struck the ball wide.
That miss seemed to spur Hillfoots on and rattle the Glens in equal measure. That frustration led to centre Stevie Dean being yellow carded for going off his feet at a ruck.
Hillfoots capitalised on their numbers’ advantage taking the game deep into Glens territory and forcing a bonus point try and conversion to lead 27-21 prompting boisterous acclaim from the large travelling support.
But this is Carleton and Hillfoots were to become the latest in a growing list of teams whose celebrations have turned out to be premature.
It was Shaun Gray who stuck the knife in with a superb try in the bottom corner before twisting it with his incredible conversion from the touchline putting Glens back in front 28-27 with just three minutes stoppage time to play.
Hillfoots pushed hard and were awarded a penalty on half way that referee Steve Mellon advanced a further 10 metres for some tomfoolery in the home ranks.
Hillfoots opted to kick for goal from distance with what was to be the last play of the game. Thankfully for the Glens the ball fell well short and was eventually kicked to touch.
The referee’s whistle drew loud cheers from the home support who were once again tortured but thrilled by the men in scarlet.
Coach Tom Hainey said he was delighted with the win and with significant aspects of the team’s performance.
“We were already short of a few regulars in the pack when we got the late news that regular backs Willie Maxwell and Steven Varney had to call off which meant another reshuffle in the line up.
“Despite that I thought we started the match well with big improvements in the set piece and at the ruck where we had much more urgency about our game.
“Hillfoots are a tough team to play against and I thought their backs in particular played well, especially in defence.
“We kicked away too much loose ball today and gave the Hillfoots’ back three the chance to counter attack with too many of our boys missing the first tackle.
“But despite the need for a late try to win the game we more than deserved the victory. Hillfoots actually only held the lead for no more than five minutes in the match, so, with so many changes made to the line up today I have to be satisfied with another bonus point win.
“We set out this season with no delusions about how tough a challenge we were going to face, with the simple objective of securing our place in Caley One.
“We are a third of the way through the season and sitting in second spot with just one away defeat and two points off the top. Those are all points in the bag that we won’t have to chase at the end of the season.”
Stand off Stewart Hainey was named man of the match.
The bonus point win keeps Glens in second spot behind Gordonians who had another fine home win, this time over Highland. They failed to gather a try bonus though and sit two points ahead of the Glens.
It is a rest week for the Glens’ First XV next week but the Development XV will be in league action at Carleton where Dundee University Medics will be the visitors.
The Devs will be looking for an improvement on Saturday’s heavy defeat to Montrose where a Tommy Wallace try, converted by Jamie Pullar, was the only high spot.