M’house have edge in derby

2014-06-28 00:00

HILTON meet Michaelhouse today in the traditional derby at Hilton, with the hosts keen to reverse the 20-13 loss ­earlier in the season on Meadows at ­Balgowan.

A large crowd is expected at Gilfillan for the 1.30 pm kick-off and, while Michaelhouse could carry the favourite tag based on a season that has seen them develop as a team with every game, home ground advantage and the popular cliché of never under-estimating the underdog gives Hilton the ­opportunity of taking to the field with nothing to lose.

Earlier this season, Hilton delivered a spirited performance against their old enemy, their defensive display keeping them in the game against a dominant red and white outfit, but it’s worth ­remembering that Hilton had a near full strength side then and have been plagued by injuries since.

Casting an eye over the formbook, it appears the hosts will have to dig deep again today, but the magnitude of the occasion and wanting to finish the season on a positive note should see the lads committed and giving their all for the full 70 minutes. Having already lost first time around, pride and passion will be a major factor in preventing Michaelhouse pulling off the double for the season.

It’s been a tough season for Hilton who, after a decent start and a consistent showing at the St Stithians Rugby Festival over Easter, have been on the receiving end of some dominant performances from local opposition, none more so than Glenwood and Westville.

Somewhat shell-shocked by this, they met Port Natal last week and repaired the damage with a strong 41-5 win, a timely return to winning ways ahead of today’s season finale. The men in black and white showed what they are capable of and against a Michaelhouse side keen to throw the ball around and run hard at their opponents, another strong defensive effort will be required, countered by maximum use of good ball when it becomes available.

Michaelhouse have made great strides this season with players showing their talent and depth as the season has moved forward. They have lost narrowly to Westville and Glenwood and of late, have enjoyed great momentum, including an agonising one-point loss to College in injury time at Balgowan and a near faultless showing against Kearsney where they clicked on the day and surprisingly ran out comfortable winners. Last week they enjoyed a run against a spirited St Charles side who came back well in the second half and they would like nothing better than a win on Hilton’s soil.

Both sides will have covered their bases and worked on key areas in training during the week. For Hilton, it comes down to making that first time tackle, being tight in defence and not allowing the opposition space to run which will see them get too far ahead on the scoreboard. Michaelhouse will want to capitalise on their fluent running and unleash their nippy backs, the opportunity provided by a pack which has gained respect through the season.

It should be an entertaining clash with pride and passion from both sides providing another close encounter. It’s a tough one to call, but knowing they have already beaten Hilton this season could give the visitors the edge and sway the final score in their favour.

The match kicks off at 1.30 pm.

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