Glasgow Hawks 31
STUART BATHGATE @ Meggetland
GLASGOW HAWKS have had to endure a couple of late and narrow losses this season, so it was about time that they should grab some last-gasp glory in a game. They were behind for the bulk of this BT Premiership contest, and deservedly so, against a Boroughmuir side who scored four tries and should have had two or three more, but crucially, it was Hawks who made their possession count when it mattered most.
Boroughmuir coach Peter Wright has bemoaned his team’s inability to play consistently for the duration of a game, and it was that defect that again proved costly here. The home team went ahead early on, and apart from a brief period when Hawks were level that lead was preserved all the way to the last few minutes of the match. Then Hawks pounced twice – first a couple of minutes over the end of the regulation 80, then three minutes later, as Boroughmuir ran out of steam when they needed it most.
“It’s a huge win,” Hawks coach Finlay Gillies said. “It’s not been a happy hunting ground for us. I did not feel confident at any point, if I’m being honest with you, though after we scored that equalising try I felt there was a momentum shift. Balls of steel.
“I know exactly what Peter Wright is feeling at the moment, because we’ve been there ourselves this season. Remember our Currie debacle when we lost from 27-0 up?”
Hawks have clearly learned from that perplexing collapse at Malleny Park, and Wright must now hope that, similarly, his Boroughmuir team apply the lessons of this game. A lot of individual parts of their game are working well, but the whole package is just not there at the moment, and until it is, they will struggle to break clear of the relegation zone. A yellow card towards the end of either half did not help their cause, but the main reason for their loss was that inability to turn pressure into points.
Boroughmuir had all the early pressure, and took the lead after five minutes through Jordan Edmunds. A penalty kicked to touch set up the platform, and after the forwards had driven on, Johnny Adams and Greg Cannie combined to put the winger through. Edmunds was halted just short of the line, but was able to stretch out and score.
It took a time for Hawks, who were playing into the wind, to gain a foothold in the Boroughmuir half, but they eventually made inroads and stand-off Ross Thompson opened their account with a 17th-minute penalty. Boroughmuir hit back almost immediately, however, and extended their lead through Johnny Matthews.
The recipe for the try was similar to the first, with a penalty kicked to touch initiating the score. The half-backs were not needed this time as the forwards kept it tight, with the hooker scoring off second phase after the first drive had been stopped a metre short.
Cannie added the two points this time to put his team 12-3 up, and a third try would have soon followed had full-back Ciaran Whyte not knocked on with the line at his mercy. The home team were again denied that third score – this time just as they were starting to celebrate – when referee Jack Sutton ruled the ‘scoring’ pass was forward pass.
With half-time looming, it was obvious that Boroughmuir might come to rue such gilt-edged opportunities to score, and that impression was enhanced in the last two minutes before the interval when Hawks got their first try. Heavy pressure saw the Glasgow side awarded a string of penalties, and eventually Whyte was yellow-carded for hands in the ruck. Hawks ran the award, and although they made heavy weather of it at first, eventually they forced their way over through Callum Kerr. Thompson converted, and at 12-10 a match that had been firmly in Boroughmuir’s grasp was wide open again.
Having fallen away late in the game against Watsonians a week earlier, Boroughmuir knew they would have to redouble their efforts in the second half, and they took the game to Hawks in the opening stages while still a man down. They needed Whyte to return, however – and virtually the entire third quarter to elapse – before eventually scoring again, with the full-back popping up on the right wing to finish off a long multi-phase siege.
Ten minutes later, and with just over ten still to play, Hawks were right back in business. Callum Harrison and Grant Stewart combined down the right, and eventually Paddy Boyer crossed close to the posts to present Thompson with an easy conversion.
That made it 17-17, and seemed to give Hawks the momentum. But Edmunds had other ideas, and with four minutes left squirmed free of a tackle and raced clear, diving over the line in delight to bag the bonus point. Cannie converted, leaving Hawks the challenge of a full score to secure a draw. It was a challenge they accepted, all right, and once they had drawn level they wasted no time in claiming the win.
Matthews was sin-binned for persistent team offending as Hawks homed in on the line, and then, from a tap penalty, Callum Kerr forced his way over for a try converted by Thompson. With enough time for at least one more play, Boroughmuir kicked the restart long, which gave Hawks the chance to build from deep. It was a chance they took with aplomb, and five minutes into time added on there was a feeling of inevitability when hooker Grant Stewart secured the win with a close-range try, his team’s fourth.
Five points for Hawks, then, when minutes earlier they looked like getting only one for a narrow defeat, and two for Boroughmuir when it could well have been five. “When you play Hawks it’s never in your grasp, because as they showed they can play great rugby,” Wright said. “A lot of their tries were down to good individual play from them, but also there was a bit of naive defending from us.
“To lose two tries in the last five minutes is difficult to take. If you don’t use the pressure and take the points, it come back to bite you on the backside.”
Boroughmuir: C Whyte; G McConnell, M Brown, R Kerr, J Edmunds; G Cannie, J Adams; R Dunbar, J Matthews, D Winning, F Field, A Erskine, D Marek, T Drennan, C Keddie. Substitutes: E McKirdy, C Atkinson, D Hoyland, D Robertson, M Walker.
Glasgow Hawks: R Beattie; S Yayawaya, B McGroarty, M New, K Rowe; R Thompson, P Boyer; S Findlay, G Stewart, G Strain, A Kirkland, K Beattie, S Leckey, C Kerr, J Eaglesham. Substitutes: C Harrison, L Skinner, F Hastie.
Scorers: Boroughmuir: Tries: Edmunds 2, Matthews, Whyte. Cons: Cannie 2. Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Kerr 2, Boyer, Stewart. Cons: Thompson 4. Pen: Thompson.
Scoring sequence: 5-0, 5-3, 10-3, 12-3, 12-8, 12-10 half-time, 17-10, 17-15, 17-17, 22-17, 24-17, 24-22, 24-24, 24-29, 24-31.
Yellow cards: Boroughmuir: Whyte, Matthews.
Referee: J Sutton.
Man of the Match: Callum Kerr, the Glasgow Hawks openside, epitomised his team’s battling spirit, scoring two tries and always menacing Boroughmuir at the breakdown.
Talking Point: That late Hawks comeback. There may have been little difference between the teams, but the visitors shaded the couple of minutes that mattered most, and as a result they are back within a whisker of the play-off places.