DOUGIE ROSS @ Old Anniesland
IF Glasgow Hawks plan on winning the rest of their league matches in the same fashion as they did today they won’t have any skin left on their teeth by the time the play-offs come around. It was one of those matches which would be described differently depending on whether you are speaking to an optimist or a pessimist.
An optimist would describe this as a hard-fought battle of the forwards with both sides showing how hard it is to breakdown defences. A pessimist would point out that there was more ill-discipline, fumbling and handling errors in this match than in a city-centre lap-dancing club on a Saturday night.
The truth is that it was a cold wet afternoon in the west end of Glasgow and neither team really showed what they were capable of at their best.
It was the home team who opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a sequence of patient forward moves off the back of rucks which eventually opened up space in the backs for winger Kerr Gossman to be put over in the corner for his 11th try of the season.
Heriots managed to respond effectively, capitalising on Hawks’ ill-discipline with fly-half Alex Hagart converting two penalties to bring them to within a point at the 20 minute mark.
The greasy surface can be blamed for a few handling errors but not for the sheer volume of mistakes both teams seemed to be committing.
Referee Graeme Ormiston was not the most popular man with the Old Anniesland crowd for continually penalising Hawks for scrum collapses. Several of the incidents looked like they could go either way despite the ref’s confidence in his decision.
With less than a minute to go before half-time, Heriots took the lead with an unconverted try in the corner by winger Charlie Simpson following a penalty from a scrum,which gave the vistors a single point lead at the break.
Heriot’s started the second half as they finished the first, managing to pin Hawks back with kicks in a fashion which Josh Henderson tried and failed to do in the first half.
With less than 10 minutes of the half gone Stephen Findlay infuriated his coach by getting a silly yellow card for a professional foul. Hagart calmly slotted over the subsequent penalty to move the score-line to 14-11 to Heriots.
From then on, Hawks brought the game into their comfort zone, keeping the play in the forwards, suffocating Heriots’ attacks and forcing mistakes.
The penalties began to toll up against the visitors and Hagan Shulte took full advantage, sending over three successful kicks during a 20 minute spell to put the score at 19-14 in Hawks’ favour.
With less than ten minutes to go, Heriot’s were close to regaining the lead but Ruaridh Carmichael was rather unlucky to knock-on with the try line in his sights.
Finlay Gillies, Hawks head coach, said: “I thought we won the forward battle which was very key in the second half. Our scrum looked a lot more dominant. That’s their life blood, their maul and their scrum. If you can fight fire with fire there then you’re in a pretty good place.”
This win means Hawks edge closer to second placed Ayr who fell to Melrose. Heriots will continue to slug it out with the best of the rest for the fourth play-off spot.
Hawks: H Schulte; E Oag, B McGroarty, M New, K Gossman; J Henderson, G Hart; S Findlay, C Fenton, G Strain, K McDonald, A Kirkland, R Miller, M Fagerson, T Spinks. Subs: J Spence, C Barnes, A Linton, A Hill, P Boyer.
Heriots: J Semple; G Parker, J Rosalea, R Carmichael, C Simpson; A Hagart, A Simmers; M Bouab, M Liness, S Cessford, R Nimmo, C Marshall, M Maltman, J McLean, S Dewar. Subs: S Mustard, G Cameron, C Smith, T Wilson, Jordon Webster.
Referee: Graeme Ormiston
Hawks: Tries: Gossman ; Cons: Henderson ; Pens: Henderson, Shulte 3.
Heriots: Tries: Simpson ; Pens: Hagart 3
Scoring Sequence (Hawks first): 7-0, 7-3, 7-6, 10-6, 10-11 (h-t) 10-14, 13-14, 16-14, 19-14.
Man-of-the-Match: The most exciting man to watch had to be Kerr Gossman on the ball, but he gets the nod because of his tireless defensive tackling.
Talking Point: Last week’s hero, Josh Henderson struggled to make his kicking game work for Hawks and their fortunes changed when he was taken off and they started playing with the ball in hand.
Image: Craig Watson – www.craigwatson.co.uk