Premiership: GHA blow Hawks away in Glasgow derby

Physicality and intensity key as Trevor Carmichael's side claim local bragging rights

GHA were worthy winners over Glasgow Hawks at Balgray. Image: Colin Robinson
GHA were worthy winners over Glasgow Hawks at Balgray. Image: Colin Robinson

Glasgow Hawks 7

GHA 20

DAVID BARNES @ Balgray

ONE team started the day harbouring play-off aspirations, the other was – at least theoretically – haunted by the shadow of relegation, but an outsider would never have been able to guess which one was which on the basis of this 80 minutes.

Hawks can still make the top four, but they need to win their final three matches with bonus points and hope that Hawick implode against Musselburgh, Aberdeen Grammar (both at home) and Marr (away). Similarly, GHA can still fall behind Aberdeen Grammar to finish rock bottom of the Premiership but you don’t need a crystal ball to see that this ain’t going to happen.

“We had to have a performance this week, we were a bit rusty last week against Edinburgh Accies, and we knew in a Glasgow derby against Hawks that we had to come out the blocks in the first 20 minutes, which we did with our best controlled rugby of the season,” said victorious head coach Trevor Carmichael.


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“We got a couple of tries then had a bit of a sticky patch before half-time when we lost a bit of control, and the start of the second half was about trying to suck the fight out of them, which the boys did with a really big shift from one to 15 today. We give away too many penaties at times, but today we hit that balance between aggression and discipline.”

“It has been a frustrating season because we know that on our day we can compete against any team in this league, we could have beaten Currie when we played them at home, so it is all about us kicking on now and trying to finish as high up the table as we can, so that we can head into next season having learned from this.”

When Hawks’ kick-off didn’t go 10, it was a portent of things to come for the hapless hosts, and they found themselves 7-0 behind just three minutes later when Erik Cavan burrowed over the line to set up an easy conversion from directly in front of the posts for George Baird.

It was the perfect start for the visitors and they were clearly determined to build on that, with No8 Jack Bruce collecting a high ball and making good ground up the middle of the park to launch a move which was carried on by Benoît Jouary up the left touchline, and which was eventually finished off several phases later when Scott Derrick squeezed over on the right to make it 12-0 to the visitors with just 10 minutes played.

Hawks were just too loose and GHA punished them again when Andrew Goudie sent Jouary into the 22 with a neat inside pass, and while the winger was injured in the tackle meaning he needed to be replaced, the visitors took some consolation from picking up three more points through Baird’s boot from an offside penalty.

Finally, Hawks woke up, pushing their opponents back with several sets of aggressive defence then pressuring a ruck to win a penalty which they kicked to the corner. They won another penalty from the subsequent line-out maul and went for another catch-and-drive from even closer range, but this time they failed to control possession and GHA cleared the danger..

Despite losing two back three players – Jouary and Grant Mollison – inside the space of 10 minutes midway through the half, GHA didn’t curtail their ambition and a powerful burst for replacement Andrew Stirrat, carried on by Derrick, had Hawks in trouble, but a loose pass diffused the danger.

With just a minute left in the half, Hawks pulverised GHA’s scrum to earn another opportunity to kick to the corner, but they failed to secure possession at the line-out and a golden opportunity to get themselves back into the game at a crucial moment evaporated.

 

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Hawks were held up over the line early in the second half, but that was about as good as it got for them and they began to lose their cool. Jack McLean was lucky to get away with late hit on Goudie, Matthew Stewart saw yellow for a high tackle on Baird a few minutes later, and Brendan McGroarty could easily have followed the second-row to the naughty step for a knock-on as GHA turned the screw but referee Ruairidh Campbell judged it accidental.

The relentless Scott Plumridge burrowed over with 10 minutes to go to finally kill-off the match, but instead of chasing the bonus point, GHA spent the final period camped in their own 22 as Hawks hunted for some sort of consolation from a miserable afternoon. And after being held up over the line for a second time in the match, the hosts finally got their reward through a Paul Cairncross try on the stroke of full-time.

“I don’t think we managed to match their intensity and physicality, particularly in that first 20 minutes when they dominated field position and got a couple of scores,” reflected Hawks head coach Andy Hill. “When we got ball, we compounded errors with errors, so we had very few phases to build any sort of pressure. Credit to GHA, they wanted it more today and they were physically better than us.”

 

Teams –

Glasgow Hawks: Y Ala-gilly (H Lee 39); R Joy, B McGroarty, M Stewart, J Pinkerton; J Thompson (C Harrison 44), F Burgess ( S Greig 59); G Strain, P Cairncross, E Rintoul, I Carmichael (I Totik 64), J McLean, L Stewart, R Chisholm (K Beattie 39), L McNamara.

GHA: G Mollison (S Simpson 34); B Jouary (A Stirrat 24), C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, S Derrick; A Goudie, G Baird; E Cavan, A Falconer, M Fox, A Kerr, J McCarthy©, S Plumridge, D Ewing (W Graham 68), J Bruce.

Referee: Ruairidh Campbell.

 

Scorers –

Glasgow Hawks: Try: Cairncross; Con: Stewart.

GHA: Tries: Cavan, Derrick, Plumridge; Con: Baird; Con: Baird.

Scoring sequence (Glasgow Hawks first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-15 (h-t) 0-20; 5-20; 7-20.

 

Yellow cards –

Glasgow Hawks: Stewart (52mins)

GHA: Lonergan (79mins)

 

Man-of-the-Match: There was no shortage of candidates from the GHA squad, but hard-working No 8 Jack Bruce edges it on this occasion.

Talking point: Hawks started 2022 with an excellent home win over Hawick, and were then unlucky to meet Currie Chieftains producing their best form of the season at Malleny Park last weekend, but this performance was a million miles away from the level they need to be at to be credible play-off contenders. On the flip side, this is not the first time GHA have looked like a top half of the table team, and while they should savour the moment, they must also challenge themselves to be more consistent.


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About David Barnes 2917 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.