Glasgow Hawks 15
IAIN HAY @ Balgray
AFTER the high of last week’s win over Aberdeen Grammar, Glasgow Hawks suffered their second one-point defeat in the space of a month on a manky, dark day in Glasgow’s West End, while Jed-Forest will have made the long drive back to the Borders with a warm sense of satisfaction of having shown that they are capable of battling it out for tight victories.
“Our line-out didn’t function,” said Hawks head coach And Hill afterwards. “Set-piece was an area we thought we could target them at, but we didn’t get a platform to attack from. Gary Munro played very well, just kicking the ball to keep us under pressure and make us play from deep. We maybe got suckered into trying to play too much rugby.”
Gary Strain’s try at the death had offered Hawks the chance to win the match, but Liam Brims couldn’t knock over the conversion from out wide on the right, which left Hill rueing his side’s decision making. “We’ve got penalty advantage from five metre out, we can pick and go towards the post, instead we give out near the touchline to try and win the game, rather than take our time,” he reflected.
The last time these two sides met it was a ten try festival of scoring, but with the rain coming down relentlessly and a cold breeze blowing in, this was destined to be an arm-wrestle which would seem to suit Hawks better, and they began by looking the sharper of the two sides.
Gregor Young did well to stop Brims before Callum Harrison went close when playing with a penalty advantage for offside. Unable to breach the line, Brims went back and took the three-points on offer.
Jed equalised in somewhat controversial fashion. Lewis Young appeared to kick the ball from Hawks’ scrum-half Harvey Bullock’s hands as he picked up from the ruck, but play proceeded and the rangy full-back retrieved possession in the Hawks’ 22, where the home side were then penalised for sealing off.
Robbie Yourston knocked his kick over the sticks to level matters, and then put his side 6-3 in front when Hawks
were pinged for a line-out infringement on their own ball. Jed then started to grow in confidence, and with the likes of the Young boys and Rory Marshal in their back division, they were doing more with their ball than Hawks had managed.
Lewis Young threw a forward pass to Josh Laing with the try line beckoning, and then after a gallop down the right touchline he was hauled down just short by Max Priestly. The Hawks winger, however, did not release after the tackle in an attempt to slow Jed’s ball down, so referee Sam O’Neill sent him to the sin-bin with around five minutes remaining in the half.
Jed took full advantage. First that man Lewis Young was well tackled by Erlend Oag, but Yourston was on hand to dive over the line, and then he converted to make the score Hawks 3-13 at half-time.
If the first half belonged to Yourston, the second half was the Munro show. Lewis Young had to be replaced at the interval with an illness issue, so Munro took it on himself to start breaking the Hawks’ defensive line. His early show and go put Jed up to the 22, and it took some good cover work from Oag and Joe Strain were slow that sweeping attack.
A controversial kick-chase moment went against Hawks when Jack McLean got his boot on a loose ball following a Hawks overthrown line-out. It appeared that Jed’s Brad Saxton grabbed a handful of McLean’s shirt as he chased after his speculative hack ahead, but referee O’Neill was not having it, and shortly afterwards Munro scored a long-range howitzer of a penalty when Andy Kirkland was penalised.
With only 10 minutes remaining now, Hawks backs finally managed to inject a bit of pace and danger. Good hands along the line released Priestly who burst into the Jed 22 where replacement full-back Fraser Harkness failed to wrap his arms sufficiently when making the tackle, meaning Jed would see out the last stages with only 14 men.
Given the travails of the line-out, Hawks went short to ensure they secured the ball, and a few phases later, captain Stephen Leckey was celebrating the score which put Hawks right back in the mix.
When replacement tight-head David Irvine earned a penalty at the next scrum, Brims kicked into the 22. Jed were penalised at consecutive maul attempts as Hawks battled for the win, but the decision to keep playing and score in the corner, making Brims’ conversion attempt significantly harder than it needed to be, was their ultimate undoing.
“I’d said during the week this was going to be a tough game, we knew the kind of game Hawks would play,” said victorious head coach Gavin Kerr. “They’re a physical side, they’ve got a big pack, but we did our homework well this week.
We knew where they were going to be carrying, so we chopped low and tried to stop their momentum.
“It would have been a kick in the teeth if they’d have pinched it at the end with the kick, but the encouraging thing for me today is that we showed we can roll our sleeves up and get stuck in, which we’ve maybe been lacking these last few weeks.”
Glasgow Hawks: J Strain; E Oag, M Stewart, C Harrison, M Priestly; L Brims, H Bullock; G Strain, J Gammell, E Rintoul, A Kirkland, L Archer, S Leckey, F Christie, R Sweeney. Subs: P Cairncross, P Henderson, J McLean, M Godsman, Y Alagilly.
Jed-Forest: L Young; J Laing, Gregor Young©, R Yourston, R Marshall; G Munro, N Stingl; T Jeffrey, F Scott, P Ferreira, D Tjombie, G Law, B Sexton, Michael Weekley, Garry Young, D Grieve. Subs: G Paxton, A Keeler, F Harkness, E Lauder, J McGough.
Referee: Sam O’Neill
Hawks: Tries: Leckey, Strain; Pens: Brims; Cons: Brims.
Jed-Forest: Tries: Yourston; Pens: Yourston 2, Munro; Cons: Yourston.
Scoring sequence (Hawks first): 3-0; 3-3; 3-6; 3-13 (h-t) 3-16; 10-16; 15-16.
Yellow Cards –
Man-of-the-Match: Where pragmatism was called for, up stepped Gary Munro to make life as difficult as possible for Hawks in the second half. Although they led at half-time, Hawks had arguably been the better side in the first 40, but Munro was able to take the pressure off his forwards and put it on Hawks to try and win the game from deep.
Talking Point: Hawks have now lost their last three home matches by a combined total of five points. If they could just get on the right side of these narrow games, their league position, and the confidence which victory instils, would be notably improved.