Premiership: Currie Chieftains grind out narrow win at Glasgow Hawks

Visitors make life difficult for themselves with big penalty count but Hawks pay price for sluggish start

Hawks-Chieftains
Glasgow Hawks' fightback from 10-0 down against Currie Chieftains fell just short. Image: Bob Coats.

Glasgow Hawks 12

Currie Chieftains 16

IAIN MORRISON @ Balgray

NEVER mind the result, just celebrate the fact that the game got played at all as the conditions in the west of Glasgow were wet, wet, wet. 

Almost inevitably given the slippy ball, both sides made plenty of mistakes, but they also played more running, fluid, passing rugby than anyone on the sidelines had any right to expect – albeit with varying degrees of success.

Hawks won the try count, and their fighting display against one of the best sides in this league was made all the more impressive by the fact that they lost their leader in the first half. Stephen Leckey went off, came back on and then disappeared off to hospital with a painful-looking shoulder injury. Prop Marcus Goodwin was badly concussed and neither is likely to feature for a few weeks at the least.


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“We got a losing bonus point,” said Hawks’ coach Andy Hill, “but we lost Stephen and Marcus to injury so …

“There were some good things to takeaway but we probably kicked when we should have passed and passed when we should have kicked!

“I feel that we played a little too much rugby in the wrong areas of the field and it simply wasn’t the day for that.”

He might have a point. At one point in the middle of the first half ,Hawks attempted to run the ball out of defence and someone spilled it for a loss of 50-odd yards. Minutes later Currie overcooked a kick to touch and Hawks were right back where they started, 50 yards further up the field. This was a game of small percentages where the winner would probably be the side that made the least mistakes.

Currie just about deserved the plaudits and the points despite conceding what must have been some sort of record number of penalties throughout this match.  They finished on top having been first out the blocks, opening the scoring after just three minutes, and then grinding down a spirited Hawks side that probably had the better of the second quarter thanks in part to the wind at their backs.

Both sides proved resolute in defence on a day when sidestepping was out of the question, with even changing direction a risky operation. The line-outs were a bit scrappy, and initially it looked like Currie held the whip hand at the set scrum – the visitors won a straight-arm penalty at the first engagement – but Hawks improved over the course and won a couple of penalties themselves, most notably to lift a long Currie siege in the first half.

 

The guests were still enjoying lunch when the match kicked off and it seemed like the Hawks players were also elsewhere as Currie scored with worrying ease. Winger Ryan Daley made the initial break in midfield and lock Ali Bain was on his shoulder to take the pass and score the opening try with no more than three minutes on the clock.

Charlie Brett kicked the conversion and added a penalty a little later to give the visitors an early 10-0 advantage, but if Currie imagined this was to be a walk in the park they were soon put right.

In one long series of assaults on the Hawks line they ran into a brick-wall defence who were determined to make amends for their slow start. Everyone played their part, but one hit by centre Jos McConkey could be heard and felt in the back row of the little stand.

Indeed, Hawks bossed the second quarter and soon had a score themselves. Poor discipline by Currie gave the home side an attacking line-out on the left side of the pitch. The ball was spread to the right and when it came back a gap opened up for full-back James Couper, who didn’t even need the spare man outside him.

It was just what this contest needed, and while Brett added a second penalty early in the second half, Hawks doubled their try count with the best move of the match that originated inside their own 22.

Hawks ran the ball out of defence, won a penalty, kicked to touch, failed to find touch but were awarded a scrum when the Currie catcher spilled the ball. From the scrum Hawks played a few phases before hooker Paul Cairncross scored from short range. Fly-half David McCartney added the extras to make this a one point game at 12-13.

The match stayed that way until the final quarter, when this one was decided. McCartney tried a long-range penalty for Hawks and missed, then perhaps ten minutes later Brett tried the same trick –   only this one sailed through the posts and Currie held on for what was a scrappy but welcome win.

“We made it difficult for ourselves with the penalty count,” said victorious head coach Mark Cairns after the match. “We conceded seven last week against Heriot’s and must have conceded at least 17 out there today, mainly in maul defence.

“We don’t target these games for bonus points, but I’d be surprised if Hawick didn’t get one against Jed today so that just consolidates their position at the top of the table and that is disappointing.”

By the end of this match at Balgray, a ground without lights, the gloom was such that it was almost impossible to tell one side from the other. That was equally true of the rugby on show, which bodes well for the remainder of Hawks’ season.

 

Teams –  

Glasgow Hawks: J Couper; S Graham, J Pinkerton, J McConkey, R Flett; D McCartney, J Imrie; K Shanahan, P Cairncross, G Goodwin, M Crumlish, S Halafihi, S Leckey, A Syme, JP Thomson. Substitues used: R Howie, D Irvine, C Nolan, E Muirhead, H Provan.

Currie Chieftains: C Brett; J McCaig, DJ Innes, G Christie, R Daley; A Harley, P Boyer; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Carson, A Bain, C West, R Davies, R Vucago, S Cardosi. Substitutes used: T Jeffrey, O Blyth-Lafferty, J Ramsay, K Steel, E Crombie.

Referee: Ciaran Stark.

 

Scorers –  

Hawks: Tries: Couper, Cairncross; Con: McCartney.

Chieftains: Try: Bain; Con: Brett; Pens: Brett 3.

Scoring sequence (Hawks first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-10; 5-10 (h-t) 5-13; 10-13; 12-13; 12-16.

 

Man-of-the-Match: Hawks were brave in defence and full-back James Couper had a good game both with and without the ball. The home forwards fronted up brilliantly, but the winning side boasted the boot of Charlie Brett, which won the game, and the carrying power of Rhys Davies which put his side in the right areas of the field and earned the breakaway the man-of-the-match award.

Talking point: Currie nine Paddy Boyer spent 12 seasons at Hawks and greeted his former team-mates by rubbing his opposite number’s face in the Balgray mud, sparking a general rammy that was extinguished as quickly as it started.


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About Iain Morrison 133 Articles
Iain was capped 15 times for Scotland at openside flanker between his debut against Ireland during the 1993 Six Nations and his final match against New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. He was twice a Cambridge ‘Blue’ and played his entire club career with London Scottish (being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2016). Iain is a lifelong member of Linlithgow Rugby Club. After hanging up his boots, he became rugby correspondent for The Sunday Herald, before moving to The Scotland on Sunday for 16 years, and he has also guest written for various other publications.

2 Comments

  1. A fine, hard-fought contest in abysmal conditions – even if the players attempted to play too much rugby on a day made for the likes of Clive Rowlands!

  2. The moment of the match was someone behaving like a child?

    Difficult to take the rest of the report seriously if this is what the author regards as important.

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