Edinburgh Reivers 26

Glasgow Caley 33

Cast as the villain of the piece during last season's eligibility row, Scotland prop Dave Hilton reclaimed hero status last night as he squirmed through for the match winning try five minutes before the end at Myreside.

That score by the hugely popular prop put the cap (pun intended) on a powerful display by the Reds in this first derby of the season, taking them clear of their Scottish rivals in the Celtic League.

Slightly slower out of the blocks, Caley's poor finishing threatened to cost them dear as they squandered chances galore, but no-one could argue that they deserved the win.

Reivers' coach Frank Hadden blamed his own side's inability to hang on to the ball, and was also critical of the decision to put the match in the hands of an English referee since he felt Ashley Rowden had not been on the same wavelength as the Scottish players.

Yet Reds' counterpart Richie Dixon pointed out that the Scottish sides will have to be ready for different interpretations, and said he preferred to concentrate on his own side's efforts.

''I was pleased with the win, but not the manner in the sense that we should have won by more,'' he said. ''However there were signs that we were prepared to be a little bit more hard-nosed.

''We dominated for long periods, but all credit to the Reivers, they didn't buckle.''

Reivers made the perfect start when they scored from their first possession of the game.

Jon Steel's failure to take a pass led to a turnover wide on the Reds right and when the ball was quickly shifted to the opposite flank Derrick Lee made full use of the overlap to commit James Craig and put Cammy Murray clear on the right for a try which was well converted by Gordon Ross.

Yet Reds should have been level immediately after a magnificent piece of play by Rowen Shepherd.

He showed a tightrope walker's skill to gather a Ross clearance on his own 10 metre line, just inside the touchline then, after cheekily carrying it one-handed, produced a delicate chip, which he went on to catch, slicing open the defence, then delicately weighting a pass to Steve Griffiths which put the lock clear inside the twenty-two. Somehow, though, as he fell over the line he lost possession in the tackle.

Reivers extended their lead shortly afterwards with a Ross penalty, however Steel made up for his earlier mistake when, from a well-judged Alan Bulloch pass, he used the half yard of space available to work his way around Kenny Milligan and take the Reds into the home twenty-two.

Back in the scoring zone they made no mistake this time, winning two penalties in quick succession and, after Gordon Simpson ran the second of them and set up a close range ruck, Graham Beveridge's rapid reaction to Jason White's blindside surge allowed the lock to power through two tackles and in.

However, with Mark McKenzie failing to convert, the impression made on the Reivers' lead was minimised when Ross quickly added another penalty.

Reds' problems were compounded when, following an intervention by the touch-judge, Roland Reid was sin-binned.

Yet their defence held long enough for the teams to be evened up after Iain Fullarton was also given an enforced 10 minute rest, English referee Ashley Rowden indicating that he had seen him throw a punch. With the resulting penalty, McKenzie reduced the deficit.

On Reid's return the Reds now had the man advantage and they made it count when, after Simpson latched onto a loose ball midway inside the Reivers' half, the pack drove in close.

Beveridge and Gordon Bulloch both made thrusts for the line, but there was some surprise when winger Craig was the man to force his way over from close range.

McKenzie converted and added a drop goal shortly afterwards, although Ross's third penalty left the match very much in the balance at the break.

Reivers recent horrendous luck with injuries during matches continued when Scotland winger Murray, having undergone lengthy treatment during the first half, had to go off at the interval to be replaced on the wing by Iain Fairley.

However, they did reclaim the lead early in the second half with Ross putting over his fourth penalty.

By contrast Tommy Hayes, having replaced McKenzie early in the half, missed a succession of penalty attempts as Reds dominated possession for much of the rest of the quarter.

With it beginning to look as if they would need to cross the line to make the pressure count, two of their most impressive performers made the breakthrough.

First, Shepherd danced his way through the first line of what looked like a well set Reivers' defence, then Simpson barged his way forward and while his pass out of the tackle was a wild one Jon Stuart held onto it well, then battled his way past two defenders to score wide on the left.

Yet, while they continued to dominate, Hayes was suffering a goal-kicking nightmare and, having missed the conversion he also missed another easy penalty chance to make it five misses from five attempts in 17 minutes on the pitch.

That was enough to persuade former Scotland goal-kicker Shepherd to take over and he hit the target with his first attempt.

From the restart, the Reds were pressed back for the first time in the half. They looked to have kept their line intact when they stole lineout ball having twice been penalised for collapsing mauls close to their line.

However, after the Reivers pack again drove in close, Ross found the way to unlock the defence, selling two dummies in weaving his way through the midfield to put the try on a plate for his captain Graham Shiel.

Having missed so many chances, the Reds had only themselves to blame, but they again moved ahead with only five minutes remaining.

Following a close-range scrum Hayes attempted to blast his way over and Shepherd then tried to dance his way through, but when the ball was recycled again it was Dave Hilton who almost crawled his way through for the decisive score, Shepherd adding the conversion.

Both sides ended the night with injury worries, Stuart dislocating a shoulder and Murray requiring an X-ray on a damaged knee, while Milligan suffered a suspected fractured cheek-bone. All three required hospital attention last night.

Edinburgh Reivers - D Lee (C Paterson 26min); C Murray (I Fairley 40), K Utterson, G Shiel, K Milligan (C Sharman 18); G Ross, G Burns; A Jacobsen, S Scott, B Stewart, I Fullarton, R Metcalfe, N Hines, G Dall, S Taylor.

Glasgow Caledonian Reds - R Shepherd; J Steel, A Bulloch, J Stuart (I Jardine 74), J Craig; M McKenzie (T Hayes 44), G Beveridge; D Hilton, G Bulloch, G McIlwham (L Harrison 56-65), S Griffiths, J White, R Reid (M Waite 70), G Simpson, J Petrie.

Referee - A Rowden (England).

Scoring sequence (Reivers first): 7-0,10-0,10-5,13-5,13-8,13-15,13-18,16-18 (half-time) 19-18,19-23,19-26,26-26,26-33.

Scorers - Edinburgh Reivers -Tries - Murray (2), Shiel (69). Conversions - Ross (2,69). Penalties - Ross (10,19,39,44). Glasgow Caledonian Reds - Tries - White (17), Craig (35),Stuart (59), Hilton (75). Conversions - McKenzie (35), Shepherd (75). Drop goal- McKenzie (37). Penalties - McKenzie (30), Shepherd (65).