Glasgow Hawks 15
TWO sporting clichés sprung to mind after this opening day defeat for Glasgow Hawks: ‘it could have been worse’ and ‘things can only get better’.
The away team’s resilience meant that this did not become the sort of horror show thrashing that looked on the cards when they fell 26 points behind with most of the second half still to play. Although two late tries did take the scoreboard away from the visitors, it was not so bad that there is no way back, especially with a couple of influential older heads in the pack due to come back from injury as soon as next week.
“It’s the situation we’re in,” shrugged Hawks head coach Andy Hill. after watching his massively revamped team lose by seven tries to two on a sunny afternoon in the Scottish Borders. “We’ve had a lot of new boys come in and we’re trying to change the system as well to suit those players.
“We’re doing well in terms of getting our attack down to the other end, but it is the more challenging parts of our phase play that we are not executing at the moment. That comes down to discipline, but it also comes down to belief, so we need to find a bit of that from somewhere.
‘We’re also missing a few of the senior guys who are still at the club,” he continued. “Stephen Leckey, our captain, and Andrew Kirkland will both hopefully be back soon – maybe even next week – but it doesn’t help us at this moment in time when we are trying to get a result to build confidence.
“Kerr Gossman looks as if he’ll be a few weeks, Paddy Boyer will be a bit longer until after his wedding, Jack McLean is another month away, and we are expecting Fraser Christie to do really well for us as an out-and-out seven when he comes in, so we have players we believe can come in and give the team a lift.
“We’re starting a game with Gary Strain who must have more Premiership appearances by miles than the rest of the team put together. But that’s rugby – injuries happen, and players come and go – so we’re not making excuses.
“It is about guys learning what is required at this level, but they are going to have to learn quick or we are going to be in trouble. We need wins for belief – if we can get a few wins then we’ll find that guys are able to pick themselves up when the going is tough. At the moment, we lose a few scores and we really struggle for positive energy. It gets quiet and everyone is looking around for someone else to take the lead.
“I have total belief that we can beat anyone in the league if we get something close to a full strength team out, but it is just about getting us into that situation where we can have a run of games with those guys playing.”
Hawks simply could not get their hands on the ball during the first ten minutes, and although they showed plenty of resolve in defence, there was a sense of inevitability about the first try, when home loose-head Luke Pettie rumbled over from close range after a punishing bombardment.
Stand-off Liam Brims had an opportunity to narrow the gap with a penalty on the quarter hour but hit the post, and a few minutes later second-row Lyall Archer had the ball ripped from his grasp as he drove for the Selkirk line, allowing the hosts to streak back upfield and away from danger.
Selkirk extended their lead through Frazer Anderson, then piled on more misery with two further tries through Italian recruit Luca Berte and hooker James Bett.
Premiership Match Reports 07/09/19:
It didn’t feel like a 24-0 match at that point, but the scoreboard doesn’t lie. Hawks’ inability to turn pressure into points had cost them dearly, and although they took advantage of Selkirk having Hack Houston in the sin-bin for killing the ball to grab a try through Craig Shields just before the break, they still had an awful big mountain to climb.
A successful Brims penalty at the start of the second half briefly raised hopes further for Hill’s men, but when Pettie went over off the back of a line-out drive for his second and his team’s fourth try it was a killer blow – and there was still over half an hour to play.
Replacement Ryan Cottrell streaked up the left wing to score with his first touch and at 36-10 there was a real danger of the scoreline getting silly, but Hawks kept plugging away, and with Selkirk’s discipline fraying – two more home players in Grant Forrest and Scott McLymont were sent to the bin.
Hawks hooker Paul Cairncross muscled in for his team’s second try, but they couldn’t get any closer. Two late tries from Aaron McColm and Jacob Henry brought up the half century for Selkirk.
Selkirk: A (Aaron) McColm; L Berte, J Welsh, R Nixon, F Anderson; C Anderson, L Morelle; L Pettei, J Bett, B Riddell, H Houston, P Forrest, R Cook, S McClymont, E Macdougall. Subs: G Forrest, A (Andrew) McColm, H Borthwick, J Henry, R Cottrell.
Glasgow Hawks: N Moffat; M Priestly, M Stewart, CHarrison©, C McCarron; L Brims, K Kay; G Strain, P Cairncross, E Rintoul, L Archer, S Halafihi, J Gemmell, C Shields, R Sweeney. Sus: T McTeir, G Armstrong, D Milne, C Holborn, E Aitken.
Referee: Steven Turnbull
Selkirk: Tries: Pettie 2, Anderson, Berte, Bett, Cottrell, (Aaron) McColm, Henry; Cons: (Aaron) McColm 5.
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Shields, Cairncross; Con: Brims; Pen: Brims.
Scoring sequence (Selkirk first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 17-0; 22-0; 24-0; 24-5; 24-7 (h-t) 24-10; 29-10; 31-10; 36-10; 36-15; 41-15; 43-15; 48-15; 50-15.
Yellow cards –
Selkirk: Houston, Forrest, McLymont.