GARY HEATLY @ Old Anniesland
GLASGOW HAWKS progressed to the BT Cup quarter-finals after an entertaining clash with Watsonians. The home side eventually came through 29-20, with a late penalty try sealing things against stubborn visitors.
“It was a bit sketchy at times, but fair play to Watsonians they threw the kitchen sink at us and we came through the test,” said Glasgow Hawks head coach Finlay Gillies.
“We were missing a few players, but the likes of Tommy Spinks and Ross Miller led us well and now we are really into the business end of the season still fighting for two trophies.”
In the build-up to the match the weather worsened through the morning, but by the time kick-off came it was dry and the playing surface looked in good condition.
The game got off to a slow-ish start and it took until the ninth minute for points to get on the board. They came for Hawks after stand-off Hagen Shulte showed good feet to get near the Watsonians 22 and then, a couple of phases later, winger Kerr Gossman showed great pace and strength to dive in for the try.
Four minutes later Watsonians had a chance to get points notched up, but stand-off Andrew Chalmers pushed the penalty attempt wide. The visitors then got a good attacking platform through scrum-half Reiss Cullen and when the ball was shipped wide winger Scott McKean found a bit of space. He looked like he may go in at the corner, but his opposite man Erlend Oag tackled him well.
Just before the end of the first quarter they did get their first try, with good breaks by back-row Angus Duckett, McKean and prop Shaun Ruwers eventually seeing captain Rory Drummond going over. Chalmers missed the conversion and it was 7-5.
In the 27th minute Hawks got back into Watsonians territory and a neat chip over the defence nearly saw Gossman in for his second try, but full-back Keith Young managed to clear the bouncing ball to touch. Moments later, however, Hawks were awarded a penalty though and Shulte did the job to make it 10-5.
Last year’s Scotland under-20 skipper Scott Cummings, playing his second game after a long injury lay-off, then showed fans what they have been missing with a great break up the middle.
Nobody was dominating this game yet though and the Edinburgh side got onto level terms with an unconverted try through Young in the right hand corner.
Hawks ensured that they led at the break when they scored their second try. After full-back Jack Steele went close, prop Gary Strain gathered the ball and scored from close range. Shulte converted.
Watsonians did have one last chance before the interval, Duckett looked set to score, but the ball was knocked on and the hosts were 17-10 up after an entertaining 40 minutes. At half-time Watsonians brought on back-row Kenny Beattie to play against his former club.
They drew level in the 49th minute when good work by centre DJ Innes fed Chalmers and he burst through the gap to score. The same man converted to make it 17-17.
Hawks hooker Grant Stewart, who put in a good shift as he continues his return from injury, was then replaced by Scott Rodgers as the visiting side got back on the front foot. They went close to a third try, but they were then dealt a blow when key man Gossman went off with a knock to be replaced by debutant Peter Steele.
In the 53rd minute they did bag their third try, Cummings – the Glasgow Warriors pro – powering his way over. Shulte’s kick missed and it was 22-17.
There was then a flashpoint four minutes later, but after the handbags had been put away and things calmed down, Shulte missed a kickable penalty.
In a game that was end to end, Watsonians then should have scored a fourth try. A good break up the right from the dangerous McKean saw the ball then shipped left and with the try line begging Beattie knocked the ball on.
With 12 minutes to go, Watsonians pulled things back to 22-20 when replacement Ali Harris kicked a long range penalty.
Two minutes later Hawks nearly gave themselves some breathing space, but some good defence held up replacement back Paddy Boyer over the try line.
Hawks kept up the pressure as the clock ticked down and although they lost prop Steven Findlay and Boyer to injuries, they kept on going. Five metre scrum after five metre scrum and penalty after penalty came and went before, eventually, they were awarded a penalty try. Shulte converted from in front of the posts and the game finished 29-20.
Glasgow Hawks: J Steele; E Oag, B McGroarty, D Milne, K Gossman; H Schulte, S Yacoubian; S Findlay, G Stewart, G Strain, A Kirkland, S Cummings, R Miller, S Leckey, T Spinks (C). Subs: S Rodgers, L Archer, A Linton, P Steele, P Boyer.
Watsonians: K Young; R Steele, S McLeod, D Innes, S McKean; A Chalmers, R Cullen; N Borel, S Crombie, S Ruwers, F Morrison, C McLean, C Borthwick, A Duckett, R Drummond (C). Subs: L Di Rollo, M Christie, K Beattie, E McKirdy, A Harris.
Referee: N Muir.
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Gossman, Strain, Cummings, Penalty try; Pen: Shulte; Cons: Shulte 3.
Watsonians: Tries: Drummond, Young, Chalmers; Pen: Harris; Con: Chalmers.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Hawks first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 10-5; 10-10; 15-10; 17-10 (h-t) 17-15; 17-17; 22-17; 22-20; 27-20; 29-20.
Man-of-the-match: Ross Miller returned to Hawks from Australia earlier this year and gives them a great ball carrying presence at blindside flanker. A mention for Watsonians winger Scott McKean too.
Talking point: That is three very entertaining matches the two sides have played against each other in league and cup this term with running rugby and tries aplenty. Hawks have come out on top in all three to show their growing strength under Gillies.
Image: Craig Watson – www.craigwatson.co.uk