DOUGIE ROSS @ Old Anniesland
GLASGOW Hawks left it late to see off an unlucky Stirling County side.The home side didn’t manage to take the lead until the 72nd minute with the visitors likely to be very disappointed that they didn’t get so much as a bonus point out of this encounter but with every reason to be pleased with a huge amount of their play.
The match had high intensity from the start with Hawks looking to take an early lead through immediate pressure from kick-off. Despite this, it was Stirling who took the lead with fly-half Ross Jones reading the Hawks attack and intercepting a flat pass in his own 10 yards. The Welshman showed real pace to score after an almost a whole pitch sprint, with Hawks’ winger Junior Bulumakau in hot pursuit the entire way.
The Glasgow outfit didn’t let the early score against the run of play effect their spirit and responded by continuing to dominate possession. Keeping hold of the ball paid off when they were awarded a penalty try five minutes later, with County collapsing a maul mere yards from their line.
Hawks, despite some good possession, showed poor game management and decision making in attack with opportunities to take the lead squandered several times in the first half.
Despite their lack of time on the ball, it was Stirling County’s centre Craig Pringle who looked to be the most dangerous in attack for either team, making a couple of good breaks
Someone must have accidentally dropped their Nytol into the Hawks water bottles at half time because a fair few of them seemed to be half asleep at the start of the second half.
Pringle was quickly back into the groove, bursting through the Hawks midfield and going on to score this time around. More Stirling pressure saw Hawks fall even further behind with another penalty and a 13 point deficit to claw back.
Hawks’ best, and possible only, highlight during this period was their driving maul which once again produced a lifeline through a Cammy Fenton try.
With just under an hour gone, Hawks centre Robert Beattie finally found some luck, latching on to a Stirling County loose ball with 25 yards of open field in front of him. He didn’t need a second invitation. That try and the conversion made it a one point game, and Hawks seemed to have finally built up a head of stream.
They fended off a slew of County attacks deep in their own territory, and then fly-half Josh Henderson kicked the hosts into the lead for the first time in the match.
With their tails up and less than 10 minutes to go, it was time for Hawks to see the game off, which they did. A long build-up of pick and goes saw prop Stephen Findlay go over for a rare try. The game finished 29-20 to Hawks but head coach Finlay Gillies conceded that his team had been a long off their best for long periods of this match..
“We got five points today, we didn’t deserve them, which in previous years Hawks wouldn’t have done. So we will take it, be happy with it but there is a lot to work on,” he said.
“Not a lot went well. Two driving maul tries, that’s okay, we can take some solace in that. Penalties conceded: far too high. General shape, you could tell we hadn’t had a game in three weeks. We were just a bit rusty and we just need to work on everything.”
Glasgow Hawks: J Steele; J Bulumakau, R Beattie, D Milne, E Oag; J Henderson, G Hart; S Findlay, C Fenton, G Strain; K McDonald, A Kirkland, R Miller, M Fagerson, T Spinks (c). Subs used: P Cairncross, C Barnes, B Flockhart, P Boyer, S Yacoubian.
Stirling County: J Hope; M Lamb, C Pringle, A Black, L Trotter; R Jones, M Donaldson; C Hutton, R Kennedy, A Nicol; H Burr, A Sinclair, A Taylor, S MacDonald, H Hendorson. Subs used: M Emmison, A Wood, L Bonar,
Referee: Steven Turnbull
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Penalty Try, Fenton, Beattie, Findlay; Cons: Henderson 3; Pens: Henderson.
Stirling County: Tries: Jones, Pringle; Cons: Hope 2; Pens: Hope 2.
Scoring sequence (Hawks first): 0-7, 7-7, 7-10 (h-t|) 7-17, 7-20, 12-20, 19-20, 22-20, 29-20.
Man-of-the-Match: Despite the score-line, Stirling scrum-half Matt Donaldson was a standout performer, controlling the flow of his team expertly.
Talking Point: A tale of two centre partnerships today with Stirling’s Craig Pringle and Alex Black schooling their opposite numbers in the art of line running.
Image: Craig Watson