Glasgow Hawks 18
IAIN HAY @ Balgray
JUST in case we’ve not had enough of refereeing controversies recently, a penalty-laden match between the bottom two left Hawks’ coach Andy Hill fizzing in frustration.
“I think I counted 11 penalties in that first half, and if you go by the first three games, including the cup game, we’ve not given away anything near that,” he said. “There’s calls that have actually impacted on the score of the game. I’m not saying it has made a difference in the result, but stuff like that left us 6-20 down at half-time.”
The opening ten minutes of the match were spent almost exclusively in the Hawks 22. Danny Owenson pushed an early penalty attempt left of the posts, and despite resilient defence from Hawks, including some huge hits from the like of Euan Rintoul, the pressure eventually told and Robert Stott, in at loose-head after Craig Owenson was forced to pull out, bustled over from short-range.
Liam Brims got Hawks onto the scoreboard with one of the few penalties that went Hawks’ way, but Owenson countered that with a penalty of his own.
One of those controversial moments that Hill mentioned post-match helped Musselburgh gain field position. After making a tackle on visiting full-back James Ferguson, Hawks centre David Milne was pinned into the breakdown, but referee Fergus Hollins blew up to award Musselburgh the penalty. Owenson’s excellent touch-finder got his team deep into Hawks’ territory, and hooker Paddy Portsmouth took advantage.
Hawks lock Andy Kirkland then saw yellow as response to the accumulation of fouls given against his team, and Owenson again knocked over the points on offer to leave Hawks with a mountain to climb.
One area where referee Hollins hadn’t been too keen to raise his arm was at the scrum, where Hawks had appeared to have the nudge on, and it was that set-piece power which pulled Hawks back into it.
Replacement tight-head David Irvine was to the fore, and after conceding three penalties in quick succession near their try-line, Musselburgh saw Euan Bonthron binned for 10 minutes just a few minutes after replacing Max Outram.
Rather than look for the penalty try, Hawks looked to take advantage of the extra man by playing it out, and full-back Yousif Alagily scored in the right corner after crisp passing from teenage scrum-half Sandy Greig and captain Stephen Leckey.
As was the case in the cup game at the start of the season, it was that little bit extra incisiveness from the Musselburgh backs that eventually took the game beyond Hawks.
After James Ferguson, who had scored in that earlier fixture went close, it was a charge by William Fleming, making his 200th appearance for Musselburgh, that rally set his team on their way. He burst through two tackles, released Gregor Tait, who drew in the last man before finding stand-off Paul Cunningham, who had enough gas to ensure Greig couldn’t catch him on his way to the line.
Rory Watt had not seen much of the ball in attack in the opening three-quarters of the match, but he started to come into the game and nearly scored what would have been a try-of-the-season contender.
From inside his own half he weaved, bounced and fended, but the last attempt at a tackle forced him to the ground where he just spilled the ball, before regaining his footing and going over the line.
This weekend’s Premiership results:
It made little difference though, as soon afterwards Colin Arthur made it a front-rower’s union hat-trick, before Hawks No 8 Ryan Sweeney scored a consolation try with the last action of the match.
“I think we played pretty well for most of the game,” said victorious head coach Graeme Paterson. “We were under pressure in the scrums at times, but overall deserved the victory. We have to put it into a bit of context, we played three really tough games first off. I’m happy for the guys that they’ve finally got themselves over that line.”
Glasgow Hawks: Y Alagilly; E Oag, M Stewart, D Milne, M Godsman; L Brims, S Greig; L Archer, J Gemmell, E Rintoul, A Kirkland, S Leckey©, S Dow, F Christie, R Sweeney. Subs: T McTeir, D Irvine, P Henderson, C Holborn, K Henderson
Musselburgh: J Ferguson; S Watt, N Sweeney, R Watt, G Tait; P Cunningham, D Owenson©; R Stott, P Portsmouth, C Arthur, W Fleming, G McKinstrey, C Pryde, M Outram, L Hutson. Subs: P Brown, E Bonthron, J Haynes, A Reddick, R Smith
Referee: Fergus Hollins
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Alagilly, Sweeney; Cons: Brims; Pens: Brims 2.
Musselburgh: Tries: Stott, Portsmouth, Cunningham, Arthur; Cons: Owenson 3; Pens: Owenson 2.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Hawks first): 0-5; 0-7; 3-7,;3-10; 3-15; 3-17; 3-20 (h-t) 6-20; 11-20; 11-25; 11-30; 11-32; 16-32; 18-32.
Yellow Cards –
Glasgow Hawks: Kirkland
Man-of-the-Match: With maybe a hint of nostalgia, William Fleming gets the award this week, but his powerful break set up the clinching score, and Musselburgh’s line-out ran pretty smoothly.
Talking point: Avoiding the contentious refereeing issues, what may be of concern was the paltry attendance. By the time I had arrived, there had only been three paying customers. (Don’t worry, that wasn’t the final attendance figure), Rugby fatigue may have set in for some of the supporters during this World Cup window, but there are worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than watching this level of rugby.