Premiership: Glasgow Hawks rue missed chances as GHA bag a bonus-point win

Visitors shrug off the upheaval of a midweek change of coach to claim first blood in derby double-header

Glasgiw Hawks v GHA
GHA got the better of Glasgow Hawks in the city derby. Image: Bob Coats.

Glasgow Hawks 19

GHA 24

LEWIS STUART @ Balgray

THE saying claims “change the coach, change the story”. Certainly that was the case for GHA, who rode the disruption of not only losing their head coach but doing so at a time when his replacement was in South Africa to produce a bonus-point win.

To be fair, at times it was pretty desperate stuff. But two opportunist tries, a flash of brilliant handling and dogged defence meant they came through some early setbacks to emerge from the first of the Glasgow derby double-header with the bragging rights.

For assistant coach Jamie McCarthy it was a classic team win. “The boys were brilliant, we had a clear game plan and stuck to it,” he said. “Defence was key for us. Everyone put a huge amount into that.


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“It is nice to be in a position where we have that double-header derby to be able to head back home with that result. That was a real squad effort. It shows a lot of togetherness with the boys, it has been tough, for obvious reasons, but they really dug in and showed they wanted to play.

“Both teams struggled for field position in the first half and defences were on top but we knew eventually space would open up in the second half. We didn’t panic, we just stuck to our guns.”

In contrast, it was a curiously disjointed display from Hawks. Not for the first time this season, said Andy Hill, their coach, they went in to the dressing room at half-time with a lead only to struggle after the break.

“It’s the same story every week, we just didn’t come out after half-time,” he said. “GHA defended well but all their tries came from our mistakes. In the first half we had six entries into their 22 and only got one score. We have to make more of our opportunities.”

Which is fair. Hawks could have had the game wrapped up by the break but for some sterling defence from GHA and a curiously disjointed display, from their backs in particular.

It all meant that though Hawks had had plenty of pressure, it was not until the 33rd minute that they saw any reward with Gary Strain, the tight-head prop, being the player to inject some pace in a clever interchange of passes that ended with Kerr Yule, centre in the new-look back division, going over.

That was about as good as it got for the home team as GHA took advantage of a 50-22 line-out to pummel their line until eventually George Baird, the scrum-half, nipped over the final couple of inches and converted himself to level the scores.

There was an element of luck about the visiting team’s go-ahead try as an attempted attacking kick hit players in midfield. Dario Ewing, the GHA flanker, was the first to react, grabbing the loose ball and making it all the way to the try-line with Baird again adding the extras.

There was nothing lucky, however, about the try that made the game safe with a superb offload out the back of his hand from Charlie Lonergan, the centre, pitting Luca Bardelli on a canter to the line.

By now, Hawks were starting to panic and trying far too hard to attack from their own 22 and in the end it proved fatal as Lonergan grabbed an interception as they tried to move the ball wide. From 40 yards out there was never any stopping him.

Hawks did have the final word, and maybe a little bit of a confidence-booster ahead of next week’s return game, when they demonstrated some superb handling skills to run the ball the length of the field and claim the final try. Daniel Sweeney, the flanker, was the last of half a dozen players to get his hands on the ball, but it was far too late to influence the result.

The two sides go at it again next weekend but there is no doubt it will be GHA who will go into that game feeling they have turned a corner while Hawks still have work to do.

 

Scorers –

Glasgow Hawks: E Muirhead; S Graham, C Elliot, K Yule, R Darroch; D McCartney, E Davey; M Downer, I Totic (C), G Strain, R Hart, Oscar Baird, S Hastings, D Sweeney, R Sweeney. Subs: Oban Baird, I Carmichael, M Crumlish, E McAra, J Thompson.

GHA: E Cunningham; L Bardelli, C Lonergan, M MacFarlane, A Caqusau; T Lonergan, G Baird; E Cavan, A Falconer, M Fox, A Kerr, K Watt, W Graham, D Ewing (C), L McCutcheon. Subs: J Low, L Barron, R Hay, F Johnston, C King.

Referee: F Brown.

 

Scorers –

Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Yule, Darroch, Sweeney; Cons: D McCartney 2.

GHA: Tries: Baird, Ewing, Bardelli, Lonergan; Cons: Baird 2.

 

Player-of-the-Match: Though the tries were well spread about, it was really defence that won the game for GHA, with skipper Dario Ewing leading the way. He produced turnovers, big hits and that vital try.

Talking point: Under normal circumstances the Glasgow derby would be a big game for both clubs with a bumper crowd. It was not just the sloppy home performance that meant this one really lacked atmosphere. The clash with events at Murrayfield did nothing to help build support.


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About Lewis Stuart 29 Articles
Lewis has been writing about rugby for almost 40 years, the last 18 as a freelance based in Scotland bringing his wealth fo experience to just about every publication in the country. These days you can hear him as well by tuning in to his Wednesday night show on Rocksport Radio.

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