Glasgow Hawks 21
IAIN LEGGAT @ Goldenacre
A RUTHLESS second-half performance from Heriot’s was enough to push past Glasgow Hawks, who once again showed promise throughout the match, deserved to take home something for their efforts, and were disappointed not to get a losing bonus, while after last week’s 50-point win over Hawick, Heriot’s fell just short of making it a century of points from the two weekends.
After an edgy first half in which the game was in the balance, however, home coach Phil Smith was simply happy to see his side dominate the second 40. “That’s now a few first halves we’ve been really poor, and it’s a trait we don’t want,” he said.
“When you see what we can do second half, and we actually did some good bits first half, but the ball wasn’t with us at the vital moments because we did something silly. So it’s a great second half and that’s what we will try and recognise and keep working off that.
“Hawks are not a bad team. People will look at the score and maybe have expectations, but it wasn’t like that. They are a good team and we had to work really hard to get the end result.”
Both sides came out the blocks blazing with an open and fast-paced running game, and although the Hawks defence initially although struggled to keep up with the frantic pace of the Heriot’s back line, it was the visitors who took the lead. Robert Beattie collected an excellent chip through, and Liam Brims added the extras.
The Heriot’s reply was immediate, as Ruairidh Leishman collected the restart on the bounce and made a daring run through the defence, Ross Jones converting. The home team kept up the pressure, and after the ball was flung from wing to wing, Charlie Simpson cruised down the line then popped the ball over the heads of the defence with a quirky pass into the hands of Alex Ball.
Jones converted to put the hosts seven points ahead, but the lead lasted barely a minute before Brims made his way through a yawning gap in the Heriot’s defence to drive over the line despite having two defenders on his back. The home team had the last word in the first half, however, with Simpson himself scoring off quick delivery and Jones again converting.
While that score was costly to Hawks, the real damage came with the sinbinning just before the break of lock Andrew Kirkland. They managed to claw themselves back into contention straight from the restart, with the Heriot’s defence being caught sleeping as Gavin Wilson powered over for a try converted by Brims. But, from 21-21, Heriot’s quickly made full use of the man advantage, dominating the rest of the match.
First, substitute Ali Johnston gave them the lead off a powerful lineout drive, and then Ball got his second with an easy run in to the line. Johnston’s second put the issue beyond doubt, and then Callum Marshall rounded things off with the seventh and final try.
Hawks head coach Finlay Gillies, frustrated at his side’s second-half showing, said the yellow card was enough to turn the game in Heriot’s favour. “We just didn’t control the second half at all. We should have been really confident coming out – we had the wind, we had been playing really well, we had stuck to our task.
“But another yellow card, another 10 minutes with 14 men, doesn’t help us. I think that’s our 13th or 14th yellow card this season, which is not good enough.”
Heriot’s: D Steele; R McMichael, R Jones, S Edwards, C Simpson; D Martin, A Ball; A McMillan, M Liness, S Cessford, C Marshall, R Leishman, M Hughes, J McLean, I Wilson©. Subs: A Johnston, S Mustard, A Sinclair, C Jupp, C Robertson
Glasgow Hawks: J McCready, M New, R Beattie, M Priestly, J Couper, P Boyer, L Brims; G Strain (c), J Gemmell, L Skinner, A Kirkland, F Hastie, S Dow, G Wilson, G Adams; P Henderson, D York, R Thompson, E Oag, M Godsman
Referee: D Sutherland.
Heriot’s: Tries: Leishman, Johnston 2, Ball 2, Simpson, Marshall. Cons: Jones 5.
Hawks: Tries: Beattie, Brims, Wilson. Cons: Brims 3.
Scoring sequence (Heriot’s first): 0-5, 0-7, 5-7, 7-7, 12-7, 14-7, 14-12, 14-14, 19-14, 21-14 half-time, 21-19, 21-21, 26-21, 28-21, 33-21, 35-21, 40-21, 45-21.
Yellow card: Glasgow Hawks: Kirkland.
Man of the Match: Heriot’s scrum-half Alex Ball excelled once again, backing up his hat-trick of tries against Hawick with a double this week. Orchestrating the back line well, he kept the tempo high to punish the languid Hawks defence.
Talking point: The Andrew Kirkland yellow card was the crucial turning point of the match, with the man advantage being enough for the Heriot’s back line to take control.