Glasgow Hawks 7
IAIN HAY @ Fullarton Park
THE cancelled 2019-20 season’s champions-elect Marr returned to Premiership action at their formidable home ground and, as they have done to nearly all comers to Fullarton in the last couple of seasons, swept past Hawks to a comfortable victory.
“A good performance. Tough game, first half Hawks were definitely in it. Overall I thought the level was quite good considering we’ve not played a competitive game in 18 months, so I’ll take that all day long,” said Marr supremo Craig Redpath.
“I think we were over eager in a few things that we did but once we settled down a bit we played some good stuff. Just before half-time was important, we scored a really good try and it was a really big boost for our confidence.
“It was good to get everybody playing, a lot of the guys haven’t played a lot of rugby. There was a couple of boys came on who’ve come through the schools, and they looked good. Tough game next week though [away to Currie Chieftains].”
The over-eagerness Redpath alluded to made for a rather stodgy opening first quarter, which nevertheless yielded two tries. Jack Scott opened the scoring for Marr after 12 minutes after stand-off Colin Sturgeon had danced past the Hawks’ defensive line and released Conor Bickerstaff down the right flank, who in turn sent his winger away for an easy canter to the line which Sturgeon converted.
Hawks struck back to level the scores through Lewis McNamara, the decision not to take what looked like an easy three-pointer through the boot of Liam Brims proving justified when the Northern Irish No8 powered over after their scrum had Marr back-pedalling.
Due to the scrum difficulties they were experiencing, former international Gordon Reid and his pal Stephen Adair made an earlier than expected appearance in the 23rd minute, and they instantly made a difference by being part of the unit that won a penalty at the next scrum. Not wanting to feel left out of the mentions, tighthead William Farquhar eventually regained the lead for Marr after they had been battering away at the Hawks line.
With half-time approaching, Kerr Gossman was sent to the sin-bin for Hawks for a high tackle on sniping scrum-half Sinjin Broad, and although Sturgeon’s effort came back off the post, Mackenzie Pearce won a breakdown penalty on half-way and then finished off Marr’s attack with the last action of the opening 40, to give the scoreboard a more accurate reflection of what had transpired.
The territorial and possession dominance of Marr continued into the second half with another Broad break following great acceleration by Scott Bickerstaff nearly leading to the first points of the second half but for a tremendous cover tackle by opposite number Craig Shields.
Then quick-fire yellow cards to the otherwise impressive Sioni Halafili and Gary Strain – just as Gossman had returned to the field – put Hawks down to 13-men.
It usually doesn’t take Reid long to leave his mark, and when the opposition are two men short it makes it even easier, so the former Scotland man dived under the sticks from close range to secure the bonus point.
Iosefo Turaga’s strong finish in the left corner further extended the lead, and the wing should really have had a double with the last play of the game, but he was bundled into touch to bring proceedings to a close.
With the last campaign’s nearest rivals, Currie Chieftains, losing away to Hawick, the nearly men of season 2019-20 will travel through to Malleny Park next week full of confidence following this powerful performance, which was defensively excellent. Impressive line-speed and dominant hits prevented Hawks from staying in the game after an opening spell which had been tightly contested and highly physical.
“I don’t think we made it past four or five phases so we just couldn’t put them under pressure and the structure didn’t go so well when we tried to play out the back,” was Andy Hill’s summation of proceedings which hadn’t gone to plan. “We lost the breakdown battle which was disappointing seeing as we’d worked on it during the week.
“We had a couple of good performances, Lewis McNamara and Thomas Glendinning stood out and fronted up on a difficult day.
“Discipline was a massive problem. We played 30 minutes of an 80 minutes game with 14-men, some of it with 13, and we’re not going to win games like that.”
Marr: G Montgomery; J Scott, S Bickerstaff, C Bickerstaff, I Turaga; C Sturgeon, S Broad; B Sweet, C McMillan, W Farquhar, H Murray, F Grant, M Pearce, R Brown, B Johnston. Replacements: S Adair, G Reid, D Andrew, C Inglis, S McDonald.
Glasgow Hawks: H Lee; K Gossman, T Glendinning, B McGoarty, F Gosse; L Brims, C Shield; P Cairncross, I Carmichael, G Strain, S Halafili, J McLean, A Syme, L Stewart, L McNamara. Replacements: A Rodgers, M Ogunlaga, J Porter, J Pinkerton, Y Alagilly.
Referee: Samuel O’Neil
Marr: Tries: Scott, Farquhar, Pearce, Reid, Turaga; Cons: Sturgeon 4.
Glasgow Hawks: Try: McNamara; Con: Brims.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Hawks first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-7; 12-7; 14-7; 19-7; 21-7 (h-t) 26-7; 28-7; 33-7
Yellow Cards –
Hawks: Gossman, Halafili, Strain
Man-of-the-Match: On an impressive day for the home side there was a few hands up, but Mackenzie Pearce’s hard tackling and match-turning interventions just before half-time see him scoop the award.
Talking Point: As Andy Hill stated, Hawks discipline will have to improve. They struggled in the last campaign due to losing a number of games by small margins. Key to turning those closely run games will be keeping XV men on the park.