Glasgow Hawks 14
IAIN MORRISON @ Poynder Park
KELSO are off the mark with their first win in the Premiership this Millennium! The faithful at Poynder Park won’t agree but the players have probably endured tougher training sessions as Glasgow Hawks simply didn’t turn up on the day. Kelso didn’t even have to play that well for the win.
“It was all about the reaction of last weekend’s defeat at Mansfield Park,” said Kelso No 8 and coach Bruce McNeil who knows that ground better than most. “Following that defeat we had really hard sessions during the week where we were knocking lumps out of each other.
“We know that Hawks are a formidable opposition who have been in the Premiership for a very long time so to get a bonus point win was outstanding. Now it’s about maintaining that performance and Marr next week is a massive game for us.”
The visitors lost their skipper, Stephen Leckey, immediately before kick-off with a back spasm which may be an excuse of sorts because Hawks need some sort of explanation for their wretched display.
They had possession and they enjoyed plenty enough territory but they proved utterly incapable of doing anything positive with the ball. They used one-out runners, or in Hawks’ case joggers, to bash the ball up and then do the same again, and again, and again. They showed almost no ambition, skill or sleight of hand in the backs. They looked like England did in those warm up matches. It made for macabre watching, you couldn’t help but marvel at their otherworldly incompetence.
On the odd occasion that things went their way – like when James Pinkerton tapped a penalty in the shadow of his own posts and made huge inroads all the way to the Kelso half – someone would drop the ball, in this case winger Jacob Adamson. It is a little unfair to pick him out since no one else in the squad was any better.
Fly-half Liam Brims had an afternoon to forget. He dropped the ball behind his own line which gave Kelso the attacking opportunity from which they scored their first try with Frankie Robson barrelling his way over from short range after just four minutes.
Four minutes later, Kelso’s advantage had doubled. This time Hawks were on the attack, Pinkerton was unable to hold onto a pass which fell into the hands of opposite number James Thompson who ran almost the length of the field without a Hawks’ laying a finger on him.
Kelso fly-half Dwain Patterson made both conversions and with two early scores the home side started to coast. Hawks applied some pressure but a mixture of butter fingers and some stout defence meant that Hawks failed to get off the mark and with every Hawks’ spill, the home side grew extra arms and legs.
The end of a dreadfully scrappy half saw Kelso score their third try of the afternoon. The indefatigable McNeil made the initial line-break, numerous others inched the ball closer to the line until the giant Irish lock Keith Melbourne proved unstoppable from close range.
Hawks started the second half trailing by 19–0, they needed the ext score if they were to turn this turkey shoot into a contest and they duly went to work. They applied all the pressure in the third quarter of the game, helped by a breeze at their back, only to spoil every opportunity with the unforced handling errors which plagued their play all afternoon.
One attack was halted by a dropped pass, another by a knock-on at the line-out, another shambolic area of the game, and a third when the throw went directly to a Kelso jumper. On another occasion, a penalty aimed at the corner was overcooked and they came back for a Kelso scrum, and finally one wayward pass sailed harmlessly into touch.
If there was a way to mess things up, Hawks would find it, if there wasn’t a way Hawks would invent it. It really was that bad as coach Andy Hill confirmed afterwards.
“That was the worst performance in all my time as a player or a coach,” he bewailed. “Everything went wrong. We lacked leadership with players getting injured early on. I think the guys panicked a little after we went 14-0 down. The penalty count was 19-5 in our favour which suggests that we made an awful lot of mistakes.”
With Hawks spurning chances at one end in the third quarter it was almost inevitable that Kelso should hit the back of the net with perhaps their first attack of the second half. An attacking line, a driving maul and a bonus point try for replacement hooker Charlie Marshall around the hour mark.
Hawks finally reacted and held onto the ball long enough to make it count. Replacement lock Tobi Sofidaya made the initial break and a few plays later flanker Lews Stewart got his side on the scoreboard and Max Crumlish doubled their tally late in the game.
In between those two Hawks’ scores we witnessed the best try of the match when Kelso almost went the length up the right flank through Patterson only for Hawks to turn possession over inside their own red zone and immediately defence turned to attack.
Needless to say the visitors failed to look after the ball at the breakdown, Kelso stole it back and winger Hamish Tweedie had the legs to make it to the right hand corner for Kelso’s fifth try in front of a delirious and barely believing crowd.
Kelso: A Barbour; H Tweeds, J Thompson, F Robson (C), R Tweedie; D Patterson, A Tait; G Shiells, E Knox, M Thompson, C Brown, K Melbourne, L Tait, M Woodcock, B McNeill. Replacements: C Marshall, A Asante, E Thompson, J Glendinning, G Ponton.
Glasgow Hawks: H Lapslie; J Blair, J Pinkerton, S Graham, J Adamson; L Brims, H Roxburgh; A Al-Agilly, A Burgess, M Goodwin, S Leckey (C), A Syme, L Stewart, JP Thomson, T Wright. Replacements: M Downer, D Irvine, M Crumlish, T Sofidaya, J McConkey.
Referee: Rob McDowell.
Kelso: Try: Robson, J Thompson, Melbourne, Marshall, H Tweedie Cons: Patterson 2.
Glasgow Hawks: Try: Stewart, Crumlish Cons: Brims 2.
Sequence of scoring (Kelso first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0 (h-t) 24-0; 24-5; 24-7; 29-7; 29-12; 29-14.
Yellow card –
Kelso: Hamish Tweedie (78 mins)
Man-of-the-Match: One or two Hawks stuck to the task but this honour has to go to the home team. Andy Tait did the needful at scrum-half in an unflashy sort of way, lock Keith Melbourne bossed the sidelines and full-back Archie Barbour grew in confidence as the game progressed. Both centres, Frankie Robson and James Thompson, were stand out contributors but man-of-the-match goes to veteran Bruce McNeil who was the beating heart of Kelso’s feisty performance.
Talking point: After conceding the third try of the afternoon late in the first 40 Hawks got together under the posts and one player was bollocking all the rest with some choice language. One old local stood nearby piped up: “It’s only a game, dinnae get so upset.” A sentiment I am sure he would repeat if the scoreline had been reversed.