Hamilton Buccaneers tournament report
April 25th, 2016
Last weekend saw the Hamilton Buccaneers play host to the first Youth Tournament of the 2016 Season. The visitors to the Palace Grounds were reigning champions Highland Wildcats, Edinburgh Wolves and near-neighbours East Kilbride Pirates.
It was the local rivals who met in the first encounter. The Buccs, having seen several of their 2015 squad move up to Junior level ,were blooding a young and very inexperienced squad while the Pirates were building on a successful campaign last time round. The difference in the levels of the teams was to become apparent, and Hamilton’s chances weren’t helped when starting quarterback Lewis Smith had to leave with a damaged hand early in the encounter. His place was taken by rookie Brodie McGale, who went on to prove an able substitute. Early exchanges saw East Kilbride’s Jack Cochrane recover a fumble in the endzone for the opening score. The Pirates went on to run up a total of 42 points in the first half. Scoring passes from Scott McKigen to Cochrane and Ben Gallagher as well as rushing TD’s for Declan Kelly and Connor Harrison went along with an interception return and a safety for Cochrane, who had a big game. Hamilton came more into the contest in the second half, but despite David Carsewell leading by example on defence, still conceded a further 5 touchdowns for a 72-0 loss.
Ominously, next up were Highland Wildcats, who had already disposed of Edinburgh Wolves 40-0. However, the young Hamilton side had quickly learned from their opening encounter and provided a sterner test for the Inverness side that many had expected. Highland scored on their opening possession with an Alex Roberts run, but Hamilton came right back and McGale found Struan Bailey with a long pass to tie the game at 6-6. The Wildcats soon got their noses in front once more when James Maclean passed to Lewis Hilditch, only for the Buccaneers to bounce back as McGale again found Bailey. Highland then opened up a bit of a gap, adding two further TD’s, both on Maclean passes to Kyle Holleyoake, only for the McGale-Bailey partnership to take advantage of a weak spot of the Wildcats defence for a third time. A safety by the Wildcats saw the score as 18-26 at the break. After the restart, runs by Roberts and Holleyoake stretched the Highland lead, but again Hamilton refused to give up, With McGale also having succumbed to injury, Youssef Betout stepped up to play QB, having started at receiver then had a spell at linebacker. He took over where his predecessor had left off, and completed a scoring pass to Bailey to reduce the leeway. Maclean and Holleyoake soon restored that gap before Bailey hauled in his fifth TD of the game, scoring all the Buccaneers 30 points in the process. A late run by Hollyoake finished the scoring at 30-52.
The final game was to prove a bit of an anti climax, with both teams coming off two defeats. Also, with Bailey having to leave early due to a prior commitment, Hamilton’s offensive options were restricted. Neither side could make any progress and a procession of 4-and-out drives only ended late in the half when Edinburgh finally opened the scoring on a short run by Elliot Oldcorn. Hamilton’s fumble on the first play of their next drive gave the Wolves a chance to pad their lead before the break, which they duly did when John Kohl passed to Michael Gray. He also found Declan Clay with the conversion for a surprise 13-0 lead. Early in the second half the Buccaneers finally got on the board when Luke Adams returned an interception for a TD. Betout passed to Steven Murdoch for the 2-point conversion and the game was back in the balance at 8-13. However, despite the best efforts of the home side, the only further score was a safety for the Wolves with the last play of the game.
HAMILTON BUCCANEERS 00:72 EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES
HIGHLAND WILDCATS 40:00 EDINBURGH WOLVES
HAMILTOM BUCCANEERS 30:52 HIGHLAND WILDCATS
EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES 36:00 EDINBURGH WOLVES
HAMILTON BUCCANEERS 08:15 EDINBURGH WOLVES
EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES 26:07 HIGHLAND WILDCATS
Report by Bill Campbell
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