Glasgow Hawks 56
FINN TAIT @ Stoneyhill
GLASGOW HAWKS stormed to a convincing victory away at Musselburgh with an outstanding performance. A ferocious display from the Hawks defence capped off an entertaining outing in less-than-ideal conditions with the rampant visitors scoring eight tries on the day. Musselburgh’s young side battled to the final whistle but could not withstand the unrelenting Hawks pressure.
“We knew if we played with tempo, we could put Musselburgh to the sword and the boys did that today with faultless effort,” said triumphant head coach Andy Hill.
Looking ahead to Currie next week he expressed his admiration for the playing style and coaching of the league leaders noting that his team will need to replicate their intensity and tempo from this game.
After a period of sustained early pressure, Musselburgh’s young pivot Matthew McMillan was charged down near his own line attempting to clear, leading to the game’s first try for Hawks with Istok Totic diving over. The try was duly converted by last week’s star man Andy McLean who started the first half brightly offering an early threat with ball in hand.
It did not take Hawks long to launch another attack on the Musselburgh line with a powerful rolling maul led by try scorer Totic, which rumbled to five metre short before the ball was shipped to Brendan McGroarty, who shrugged off two Musselburgh defenders to score.
The dominance of a powerful Hawks forward pack was key in this game and they were rewarded for their tireless physicality when Totic scored his second of the day from close range.
It took Musselburgh until after the half hour mark to fire their first shot, James Ferguson putting Calum Marshall into space down the touchline, but poor Musselburgh support led to a Hawks turnover.
As the rain returned, the game slowed down and Musselburgh showed positive intent with Rory Watt popping up to carry powerfully on several occasions. Despite this, Musselburgh struggled to make inroads into the red wall and went into halftime scoreless.
The sunshine returned for what was a rampant second half for Glasgow Hawks which started with Eric Davey combining with his outside backs to execute a smart wrap around play, and with the try line beckoning he released McLean to go under the posts.
The Hawks bench made a big impact, most notably Ryan Flett entering the fray with some powerful carrying which led to a dominant period of Hawks play with a further four tries scored.
First, after a phase of Hawks pressure on the Musselburgh line, Max Crumlish crashed over from close range.
Then Hawks stole a line-out on the halfway line with Totic spinning wide to Flett, who barged his way through before releasing Harris Mitchell to go in untouched.
Mitchell also had a hand in Hawks next score, receiving a clearing kick from Ferguson he pass to the quietly excellent McLean, who made ground before passing to his outside centre James Pinkerton, who skilfully offloaded inside to Sam Graham for his first of the afternoon.
Graham was then a beneficiary of another effective Hawks foray when Daniel Sweeney carried powerfully to set up a fantastic move which saw Graham get the better of the two cover defenders and ghost through to score his brace.
It was a difficult day for Musselburgh who at times threatened but struggled with injuries to key players. They can take positives from performances such as Calum Champion, who impressed with his physicality in the contact area on both sides of the ball.
The Hawks team had an array of fantastic performances with the exciting young duo of Davey and McLean showing incredible maturity, the latter picking up another 21 points and having a flawless day from the tee.
In the pack, the front-row did not take a backwards stepwith Totic having a fine game and scoring a brace. Crumlish and Sweeney both caught the eye with their powerful carrying and unwavering work-rate.
“For us to be able to compete against a team like Hawks we have to play to the best of our abilities and unfortunately today we were unable to do that as a coaching team and as a playing group,” said Musselburgh Musselburgh assistant coach Andrew Clark. “As a group heading into next week, we will have to look at how we manage the injuries we picked up which left us a bit all over the place today, but we will try and manage that.
“We will need to look at changing it up this week in training and try to get a more positive result next week away at Edinburgh Accies.”
Musselburgh: J Ferguson; C Marshall, R Watt, F Thomson, S Watt; M McMillan, D Owenson; N McNairn, B Stott, C Arthur, J Haynes, W Fleming, C Champion, M Outram, M Crawford. Substitutes: F Duraj, R Hanning, L Milne, F Call, A Spencer.
Glasgow Hawks: A McLean; S Graham, J Pinkerton, B McGroarty, H Mitchell; G Cruikshank, E Davey; A Al-agilly, I Totic, G Strain, M Crumlish, S Leckey, L Stewart, D Sweeney, Oscar Baird. Substitues: Oban Baird, M Ogunlaja, T Wright, R Flett, M Stewart.
Referee: Samuel O’Neil
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Totic 2, McGroarty, Mclean, Crumlish. Graham, Mitchell 2; Cons: Mclean 8.
Scoring sequence (Musselburgh first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-19; 0-21 (h-t) 0-26; 0-28; 0-33; 0-35; 0-40; 0-42; 0-47; 0-49; 0-54; 0-56.
Man-of-the-Match: The Hawks pack was the real difference and while Istok Totic was outstanding it was the consistency of Daniel Sweeney that edges it. He carried powerfully all day, set the standard in defence and chipped in with a couple of crucial turnovers to silence Musselburgh’s attack.
Talking point: Musselburgh showed flashes of the team they can be, at times their attack looked dangerous, but with the injuries they have suffered to key players it is going to be more and more difficult for them to turn their fortunes around and rebuild this season after a poor start.