Glasgow Hawks 17
IAIN HAY @ Balgray
THEY say that all good things must come to an end, but not yet for Marr, as the unbeaten league leaders clawed themselves back from the brink to snatch victory from the Hawks’ grasp.
Paying credit to Hawks, Marr coach Craig Redpath said: “They’ve got a good number of their players back, I think people have underestimated them when they get their full team together. Great thing for me is that we’ve won the game, when we’ve probably missed four or five opportunities, and in the second half they’ve only got into our half on the back of our mistakes.
“We’ve not been playing particularly well, I don’t think. We had a few changes today, but I’m just happy with the win, and that spirit at the end there.”
It really was a rollercoaster of a match in all facets. At first Marr seemed to have the better of the scrums, winning a penalty on their own feed and putting Hawks under pressure on theirs. However, at the next scrum Hawks forced a penalty of their own, which afforded them territorial advantage. Although nothing came of their maul drive, Hawks showed great ball retention and no lack of skill, until Erland Oag put his foot on the gas and went in under the posts.
Another comfortably won Hawks scrum in Marr’s 22 led to a second score, a slick move between the backs, started by lively scrum-half Paddy Boyer and finished in the right-hand corner by Murray Godsman for a deserved 14-0 lead.
One of the changes that Redpath had alluded to in his post-match review was the withdrawal of Jack Preston at scrum-half due to illness, which meant Greg Montgomery moved from full-back to scrum-half. Although he was playing well enough, Montgomery and Colin Sturgeon, one of the league’s top performers this season, were failing to spark Marr into action in the face of some energetic Hawks’ defending.
Sturgeon’s boot did assist in getting Marr on the scoreboard, his penalty touch-finder deep into Hawks territory being mauled over the whitewash by Curran McMillan, but Hawks ended the half camped on the Marr try-line, and were a touch unlucky to see Sione Halafihi knock on as he ran onto Boyer’s pass, but they went into the interval with a 14-7 lead against the odds.
Hawks’ Callum Harrison nearly extended the lead at the beginning of the second period when he capitalised on Jack Scott’s spill under pressure, but they did earn themselves a penalty, which, with hindsight, they’ll maybe wish they had taken the shot at goal, rather than the kick to the corner, as the chance went abegging.
With the game so tight, a bit of tetchiness had begun to surface toward the end of the first half, and there was even a touchline contretemps between Hawks’ Godsman and Marr chief Redpath, as the Hawks winger went to retrieve the ball for a Hawks lineout. Once the line-out had been taken and secured, Marr were pinged for offside, and Liam Brims was unfortunate to see his long-range effort bounce off the crossbar.
Marr were then handed an opportunity when Boyer’s pass in his own 22 was adjudged forward, and they took it. We hadn’t seen a lot of Conor Bickerstaff’s danger, yet, but when he took possession just five metres out, his pass bounced fortunately for Ness, who had a simple one-out pass to complete, Richard Dalgleish the man to benefit and score in the left corner.
Marr were now beginning to dominate, Sturgeon was showing his class, kicking well from hand to keep Hawks pinned back, and Bickerstaff and centre partner Gregor Paxton were also making headway in midfield when the chance arose.
Dalgleish could maybe have bagged himself a second, but opted to try and cut inside Godsman rather than try to take him on the outside, however they were awarded a short-range penalty when Jack Gemmell, who was in the wars throughout, was pinged for offside and went to the sin-bin.
At this stage Hawks had no suitable replacement front-rower, Lyall Archer having recently departed the field with a knock, so rather than opt for an uncontested scrum, Marr went for the easy three-pointer to take the lead for the first time with only five minutes remaining.
Hawks regained the lead through a Brims penalty, but Marr came again, and with the clock running down and Hawks desperately clinging on following a stunning surge by Bickerstaff, they were judged to have infringed again, and Sturgeon knocked over what proved to be the winning penalty.
“I don’t think that maybe the best team won on the day”, claimed Hawks head coach Andy Hill. “I think it was one of them where a team at the bottom of the table just don’t know how to win the games, rather than those with a bit more experience, who’ve been together that little bit longer, winning those games.”
Glasgow Hawks: Y Alagilly; M Godsman, E Oag, C Harrison, M Priestly; L Brims, P Boyer; L Archer, J
Gemmell, G Strain, S Halafihi, A Kirkland, S Leckey©, F Christie, R Sweeney. Subs: E Rintoul, S Dow, J
Strain, M Stewart, N Moffatt.
Marr: G Ness; J Scott, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff©, R Dalgleish; C Sturgeon, J Preston; W Farquhar, C
McMillan, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, F Grant, M Pearce, R Brown, B Grant. Subs: J Drummond,
B Sweet, C Cunningham, B Johnston, G Beckwith.
Referee: R Campbell.
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Oag, Godsman. Pen: Brims. Cons: Brims 2.
Marr: Tries: McMillan, Dalgleish. Pens: Sturgeon 2. Con: Sturgeon.
Scoring sequence (Hawks first): 7-0, 14-0, 14-7, 14-12, 14-15, 17-15, 17-18.
Yellow card –
Man of the Match: He may have ended up on the losing side, but Hawks scrum-half Paddy Boyer was a constant nuisance to his opposite number at the scrums, and kept the tempo high as Hawks put the frighteners on the table toppers.
Talking Point: Compared to my first visit of the season to Balgray, there was a healthy turn-out, perhaps because World Cup fever has subsided. A sizeable contingent made the journey up from Troon as well, which, when combined with a few decisions that the home fans felt questionable and the on-field needle, created quite a fiery atmosphere.