Glasgow Hawks 10
ALAN LORIMER @ Mansfield Park
HAWICK maintained their unbeaten record at home in the Tennent’s Premiership after resisting a fierce challenge from a Glasgow Hawks side that failed to capitalise on the loss to injury of the home trio of lock Rory Smith and centres Logan Gordon-Woolley and Aaron Redpath.
Smith had been at the heart of massive effort from the Hawick forward pack before sustaining a dislocation to a nose bone. Gordon-Woolley, just back from injury, suffered a blow to the face while Redpath damaged his shoulder.
All of which puts pressure on Hawick for their visit to Aberdeen next Saturday as coach Matty Douglas acknowledged. “It’s a growing injury list here at the club,” conceded the young Mansfield mentor.
This weekend’s other Premiership match reports:
Despite the loss of three crucial players Hawick were still able to keep Hawks at bay and in the end were worth their victory.
“We dropped off in the third quarter and they got back into it, but apart from that we were pretty dominant. In the first half, Hawks weren’t in the game much. We starved them of the ball. I never thought the game was getting away from us even though we were under pressure at times,” added Douglas.
Hawick’s ability to stop Hawks from taking control was very much down to their forwards. Strong in the scrums and lively in the loose, the Greens eight held off a Hawks pack which looked the more physical. Hawick also held a trump card in scrum-half Gareth Welsh, whose sniping breaks kept the Greens on the front foot at critical times in the game.
For Hawks, this was perhaps one that got away. If there was not a great deal of pleasure for Hawick in winning something of a slogfest, admittedly in damp conditions, there was even less pleasure for Hawks in losing.
Much of the displeasure felt by Hawks’ coach, Andy Hill, was aimed at a somewhat lacklustre opening 40 minute period. “We hardly fired a shot in the first half,” he reflected. “As the game went on I thought we were getting into it more but we lost the ref [resulting in Hawks picking up two yellow cards].”
Hawks’ sharpness in the third quarter was very much due to the decision to bring Liam Brims forward from full-back to stand-off. It certainly resulted in a number of threatening breaks and it was only the sharpness in defence of Stuart Graham in particular and his back row colleague Jae Linton that prevented the Hawks’ playmaker from doing more damage.
The video of the first half, in which all the points came from penalties, will not have high box office ratings. Kirk Ford, who was key to steadying Hawick in both attack and defence, kicked three goals and Brims one.
After the break, with Hawks showing more enterprise, the visitors came close to scoring through left wing Ronan Joy. Eventually their third quarter pressure delivered a dividend from a driven line-out that ended with hooker Iain Carmichael at the foot of a pile of bodies. Brims’ conversion then gave Hawks a one-point lead.
Hawks’ momentum was gradually checked by a Hawick resurgence and after James Pinkerton was carded for diving into the ruck Ford kicked to the corner. Hawks probably expected the Greens to drive the ensuing line-out but instead, Hawick worked a clever move round the front for skipper Matt Carryer to crash over for the winning score and keep fortress Mansfield unconquered this season.
Hawick: B Donaldson; M Tait, L Gordon-Woolley, A Redpath, R McKean; K Ford, G Welsh; T Hope, M Carryer, R Macleod, R Smith, S Fairbairn, S Graham, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: C Tait, A Ford, S Mabon, D Lightfoot, K Brunton.
Glasgow Hawks: L Brims©; K Gossman, J Pinkerton, F Gosse, R Joy; J Strain, S Greig; A Rogers, I Carmichael, G Strain, S Halafihi, J McLean, L Stewart, T Brown, L McNamara. Subs: I Totic, M Downer, S Leckey, F Burgess, M Stewart.
Referee: M Todd
Hawick: Try: Carryer: Pens: Ford 3.
Glasgow Hawks: Try: Carmichael; Con: Brims; Pen Brims
Scoring Sequence (Hawick first): 3-0; 3-3; 6-3; 9-3 (h-t) 9-8; 9-10; 14-10.
Yellow cards –
Glasgow Hawks: Pinkerton, Joy.
Man-of-the-Match: Several Hawick forwards including Shaun Fairbairn, Jae Linton and Stuart Graham put in a massive shift, an could each have taken the honour. but what made a difference to Hawick going forward were the many breaks that scrum half Gareth Welsh made and for that he is the MOTM.
Talking point: Hawick have had to fight hard for their victories at Mansfield Park but the famous Borders venue remains a fortress for the Greens. How Hawick will manage with their growing injury list remains to be seen but with a pack that has so much belief in itself the Greens will always be difficult opponents. For Hawks, the crucial decision in coming weeks will be where to field Liam Brims and that, according to Andy Hill, will depend purely on the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.