Glasgow Hawks 31
IAIN HAY @ Lochinch
WITH regular home ground Balgray deemed unfit to play this weekend’s only Scottish Premiership fixture, fifth placed Hawks hosted third placed Hawick at their training facility in the Southside of Glasgow, and put in a towering performance to keep themselves in play-off contention.
“I felt we were quite far away from where we have been this season,” surmised Hawick’s head coach Matty Douglas. “The ‘want’ we’ve had the last couple of months wasn’t there. We were second best at everything around the pitch; just a poor performance on the whole.
“We’re at the stage where we’ve got into a decent position but we can’t just expect to win and I don’t want this season to just taper off. I think we’ve got a really good squad and that wasn’t them today.”
The skies darkened and the breeze decided to ramp itself up a notch as the returning Liam Brims kicked-off into the wind, and when Hawks won a penalty at the first scrum, the rain began to pour not just on all of those in attendance, but specifically on the Mansfield Park men, like a 15-bodied Charlie Brown scene from the Peanuts comics.
Scrum-half Matt Donaldson took the towering Sione Halafihi’s line-out knock down and weaved through the smallest of gaps to within five metre, and his captain Paul Cairncross eventually dived under the sea of bodies and over the whitewash.
Hawick did level soon afterwards when Stuart Graham peeled away from the main maul and dived over, but after another try from close range for Cairncross, following a quick tap and go, Hawick then put too much faith in their maul.
Captain Matty Carryer’s arrows regularly found their target following numerous Hawks’ infringements – including a couple which offered shots at goal – but when they did breach the red brick wall, Halafihi and Iain Carmichael got under Carryer to deny him, and give Hawks a huge boost.
Hawks went close to another try when Michael Downer found himself in the unfamiliar right-wing spot – a spot so alien to him he did himself a mischief and had to go off injured – and closer still when Brendon McGroarty ripped the ball from opposite number Andrew Mitchell and fed Jamie Pinkerton, only for Kirk Ford to chase back superbly and knock him into the corner flag.
A Brims penalty had sandwiched both these attempts to give Hawks a 17-7 half-time lead, and despite Ford replying in kind in the opening stages of the second period, Hawick were still struggling to make anything happen in the face of immense energy and physicality from the Hawks pack.
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A huge hit from Gary Strain helped dislodge the ball, Hawks countered again down that right flank, and although they couldn’t get over in the corner again, when the ball was worked inside, Brims stepped and handed off to Ali Rogers to cross the line.
Outside centres Mitchell and McGroarty exchanged powerful bustling runs, but whereas Mitchell was held up over the line, McGroarty’s effort eventually led to points.
Hawick were forced to clear to touch, and although Hawks knocked the line-out on, the scrum dominance they had shown throughout won another penalty. They kicked deep, completed their line-out, and went through the forwards, before Jack McLean claimed a well-earned bonus point try.
“We were due a performance like this against one of the top three-four, we let ourselves down against Accies a while back, but now we’ve come out and beat a team like Hawick – and not just beat them, comprehensively beat them,” said victorious coach Andy Hill.
“We didn’t have a training facility on Tuesday so we hosted a Zoom call, and guys like Liam Brims and Matt Donaldson executed the gameplan brilliantly. The defensive effort was excellent, defence is easy to coach in terms of technical stuff but you can’t teach heart and the boys brought that today and fronted up.”
Glasgow Hawks: M Stewart; R Flett, B McGroarty, F Gosse, J Pinkerton; L Brims, M Donaldson; M Downer, P Cairncross©, G Strain, S Halafihi, J McLean, L Stewart, I Carmichael, L McNamara. Subs: A Rogers, R Chisholm, F Burgess, J Thompson, R Joy.
Hawick: B Donaldson; L Gordon-Woolley, A Mitchell, A Redpath, R McKean; K Ford, D Lightfoot; S Muir, M Carryer©, R Macleod, R Smith, S Fairbairn, R Graham, C Renwick, S Graham. Subs: C Tait, T Hope, C Sutherland, S Frizzel, K Brunton.
Referee: David Sutherland
Hawks: Tries: Cairncross 2, Rogers, McLean; Cons: Brims 4; Pens: Brims.
Hawick: Tries: Graham; Cons: Ford; Pens: Ford.
Scoring Sequence (Glasgow Hawks first): 5-0; 7-0, 7-5; 7-7, 12-7; 14-7, 17-7 (h-t) 17-10; 22-10; 24-10; 29-10; 31-10.
Man-of-the-Match: Liam Brims returned to offer his leadership around the park and kicked 100 percent from the tee, but it was Sione Halafihi who set the tone in defence for Hawks, with head coach Hill also singling him out for praise in our post-match chat.
Talking Point: As Matty Douglas said, Hawick did not have a good day, on many occasions they tried to overplay, and in these conditions with a fired-up Hawks pack flying up to drill them at every opportunity, a little more practicality was called for.