Glasgow Hawks 32
IAIN HAY @ Balgray
THERE was heartbreak for Hawks and joy for Jed-Forest, as two converted tries in the closing moments of the match – the latter of which was scored with time well and truly up – put a serious dent in the home side’s play-off ambitions.
“Ten minutes to go, the game was gone, to be honest, and we started thinking: ‘We’re taking nothing from this’, but the character and determination of the boys is a credit to the lads,” said a surprised, yet chuffed, Andrew Brown of Jed. “We said at half-time it’s the same as nil-nil, we can start again. We’d be playing down the hill and could exit a bit better, but we kicked poorly and gave Hawks the ball, and we couldn’t live with them for a wee while.
“At the end I was telling them to go for goal and take the two bonus points, but they’ve tapped and went, and got the try. We’d got out of the habit of winning, we’d been close practically every week and today, by any means, wasn’t the greatest performance, but in terms of character, grit, will and fight they stuck it out until the end.”
A bright start for Jed saw them patiently work their way upfield after Callum Young had made a half-break, but when the opportunity for a Gary Munro cross-kick presented itself, the kick’s target, Robbie Shirra-Gibb, was just in front of the kicker, so although the winger claimed and dotted down, referee Jonny Perriam said no try.
Once Gavin Cruickshanks cannon of a boot had seen Hawks make territorial gain, they stayed camped in the Jed half, but as their head coach Andy Hill has bemoaned this season, they weren’t clinical enough in the danger areas and it took them nearly 20 minutes to get on the scoreboard, Ryan Sweeney following up his Glasgow derby double with a score from the back of a maul.
Sweeney had to go off soon afterwards after sustaining a hand injury in the act of scoring, and once he had gone off the field, Callum Young cut a nice angled line to cut through the Hawks’ defence on their first visit to the 22 since the opening spell.
Straight from the restart Ross Darroch’s chase and hit on Andrew Sweenie led to a Hawks penalty, and when they were awarded another penalty for a high tackle in the shadow of the posts, Eric Davey tapped and went, with Sweeney’s replacement Mike Downer finishing the job.
It was a case of ‘anything you can do, we can and all’ as Jed scored almost straight from their own kick-off, with Gregor Young brushing off some lacklustre tackling to sprint over the line to the bewilderment of much of the Balgray faithful, which left the score at twelve apiece at half-time.
The TOL match preview had pitted Callum Young v Andy McLean as the pick of the head-to-heads, and the in-form full-back – fresh from representing Glasgow Warriors under-20s versus Edinburgh – went on the rampage early in the second half, returning a kick and exchanging passes with Sam Graham to get Hawks into position for Darroch to score in the left-corner from Cruickshanks long pass wide.
Graham was then bodychecked by Gregor Young which allowed Hawks to once again go to the corner, and although captain Stephen Leckey’s line-out take was a little unconventional, Downer was on hand with the last of a series of pick and goes to claim his second score.
Hawks were flying now. Leckey pinched a line-out, Sebastian Hastings bounced off a couple of tackles and put a very decent kick in behind for Darroch to chase, and although Mason Cullen got back well to sweep up, his clearance was returned by Cruickshanks, who again found Darroch in space to cross for his seventh try of the season.
Jed had looked adventurous with ball in hand, the Youngs, Robbie Yourston and Shira-Gibb often breaking the first tackle, and No 8 Ben Fotheringham finished well underneath the posts to pull Jed within two-tries, only to see McLean stroke over a penalty with roughly 10 minutes remaining to push the score out to 32-19, which still made it two-tries difference but both would need converted. Surely not?
With the football World Cup in Qatar throwing upsets and surprise results around like confetti, the trend spread to the West End of Glasgow.
Jed had possession and were on the fringes of the 22 when Cruickshanks intercepted, and if Euan Muirhead had been able to collect his pass he may have gone all the way, instead it was knock-on and scrum to Jed, so it was opposite number Cullen who ended up on the scoresheet, timing and angling his run nicely to rush onto Aidan Bambrick’s pass (although Hill was irritated that there was no call on McLean being taken out off the ball at the previous breakdown).
The hastily taken conversion meant Cruickshanks would have to kick off again, with two minutes left on the clock, and when Yourston made a break in midfield to get into Hawks territory, the energy levels of the visitors ratcheted up another few notches.
The forwards punched dent after dent, and Jed were now in the 22. Iain Carmichael thought he had hands on the ball at one point, but eventually Hawks were penalised for offside on their five-metre line and Jed went for the jugular.
Of all the players you expect to find scoring from a couple of metres out, it’s not usually a stand-off, but Gary Munro had moved into position, kept low, and dived over. Scott converted and his teammates roared in celebration of a most unlikely of victories.
“It just seems like we shut off the last 10 to 15 minutes, let Jed back into the game, gave them a bit of belief, and once they got into the ascendancy we couldn’t stop it,” said the bitterly disappointed Hill afterwards. “They put us under pressure and asked the question: ‘Can you stand up to it?’ and the answer was clearly: ‘No’ at the end ”
“We started pretty poorly, only came away with points from two out of seven entries into their 22 in the first half, and that’s not good enough and it’s come back to bite us.
“The bits where we get momentum, we just don’t have that ruthless streak where you keep your foot on the throat, that’s why the likes of Currie and Marr have been where they are the last couple of seasons. They turn small results into big heavy defeats rather than taking our foot off the gas, thinking we can maybe down tools for a period, and once the other team gets a bit of momentum, gets a bit of belief, it makes it very difficult to stop.
“Our individual tackle technique was very poor. All their tries have come off someone missing a tackle, and they’ve been able to gain easy yards, or score themselves.”
Glasgow Hawks: A McLean; E Muirhead, J Pinkerton, S Graham, R Darroch; G Cruickshanks, E Davey; I Carmichael, I Totic, L Alessandri, S Leckey©, O Baird, L Stewart, S Hastings, R Sweeney. Subs: M Downer, E Cairns, J Porter, C Elliot, H Lapslie.
Jed-Forest: Callum Young; M Cullen, Gregor Young©, R Yourston, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, A Bambrick; G Paxton, F Scott, P Ferreira, A Sweenie, M Atkinson, Garry Young, B McNeil, B Fotheringham. Subs: T Cromarty, J Hynd, D Wardrop, O Cranston, L Elder.
Referee: Jonny Perriam
Hawks: Tries: Sweeney, Downer 2, Darroch 2; Cons: McLean 2; Pens: McLean.
Jed-Forest: Tries: C Young, G Young, Fotheringham, Cullen, Munro; Cons: Scott 4.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Hawks first): 5-0; 5-5; 5-7; 10-7; 12-7; 12-12 (h-t) 17-12; 22-12; 24-12; 29-12; 29-17; 29-19, 32-19; 32-24; 32-26; 32-31; 32-33.
Player-of-the-Match: This had Ross Darroch’s name all over it until the highly dramatic conclusion, as he moved clear as Hawks top try-scorer this season and chased kicks all day, but to the victor goes the spoils, so Finlay Scott can take the award.
Talking point: The play-offs are not yet out of reach but Glasgow Hawks are going to have to be a lot more clinical and ruthless if they are to sneak into the top four. They failed to capitalise on pressure inside the 22, and three missed conversions cost them dearly. For Jed, this could be the spark they’ve been hunting for as they look to climb away from the threat of relegation.