TWO tries just after half-time and solid defence was what this Glasgow Hawks victory over Heriot’s at Goldenacre was built on. Heriot’s had a lot of possession during the match, but in the last six minutes when they were 23-19 down they lost their composure with victory in sight, and it was Hawks who had the final say with their fourth try to give them the bonus point.
Hawks head coach Finlay Gillies said: “They say that wins are built on a good defence and that was certainly the case in this one.
“The guys tackled well and did not allow Heriot’s any space, but fair play they frustrated us too so to get five points away from home is very pleasing.”
Heriot’s head coach Phil Smith was not a happy man and said: “We shot ourselves in the foot, simple as that.
“Firstly we gave away two silly tries after half-time and then we got things back to 23-19 before showing a lack of game management.”
In the days leading up to the match there was anticipation in the air with the news that ex-All Black Corey Flynn had been released by Glasgow Warriors to play for Hawks. However, the Kiwi was called upon by the pro side in their defeat to Ulster on Friday night so was withdrawn from club duties. As a result Grant Stewart, who had been named to start in the back-row, moved back to his usual hooker spot with Andrew Redmayne in at number six.
On a blustery afternoon, Hawks got out of the traps quicker and they took the lead in the sixth minute when their forwards powered over the try line. Andy Hill was credited with the score and stand-off George Horne impressively converted from wide out on the right.
Edinburgh hooker George Turner then got Heriot’s on the front foot with a couple of trademark bursts, but, through numerous phases, Hawks stood firm and won a penalty under their own posts.
And a couple of minutes later, now in Heriot’s half, scrum-half Grayson Hart was tackled from an offside position. Horne stepped up and kicked the penalty from some 45 metres out, the wind helping it to edge over the bar, and the visitors were 10-0 to the good.
Heriot’s came back at Hawks, but every time they attacked they were coming up against a well-organised defence and by the end of the first quarter they were still scoreless. They were also being hampered by a number of handling errors.
Their handling markedly improved nine minutes later, though, when the hosts scored a cracking team try.
Second-row Russell Nimmo made a good break up the middle and fed to number eight Callum Marshall, who made it to within 10 metres of the Hawks line. The ball was then shipped quickly right and full-back Gavin Parker dived over in the corner.
Stand-off Alex Hagart nailed a tricky conversion and with Hawks’ flanker Hill having been sent to the sin bin it was 10-7 and very much game on.
It was the visitors who added to their score before the interval though, Horne kicking a short-range penalty to leave things at 13-7 with 40 minutes remaining.
Heriot’s brought on useful front-row replacements Murray McCallum and Michael Liness to try and help them get back into things.
Like the first half, it was Hawks that started the stronger of the two sides and they scored two tries in the first six minutes.
The first came through Warriors’ winger Junior Bulumakau, the former Heriot’s man and someone in great form.
He scored a hat-trick against Watsonians last week and added to his tally with this one, albeit that he only had to finish from a couple of yards out.
That was in the 44th minute and then in the 46th a quick counter attack caught Heriot’s napping and centre Brendan McGroarty went over. Neither were converted by Horne, but it was now 23-7.
Heriot’s could have faded at that point, but credit to them they got themselves back up the other end and in the 54th minute they added their second try. It came from a five metre scrum when the pack got a good shove on, edged their way over the line and then scrum-half Andrew Simmers dived on the ball for the try.
Hagart failed to convert, but it kept things interesting heading into the final quarter.
Heriot’s pressure continued and the Hawks defence really was showing its worth at this point.
There was a stoppage in the 64th minute for what looked like an ankle injury to Turner. He was forced off, but Heriot’s kept pressing, and their third try of the day came in the 74th minute from back-row Struan Dewar, with Hagart converting leaving things excitingly poised at 23-19.
However, it was Hawks who were galvanised by that and with two minutes to play Horne scored and converted their fourth try to complete the victory.