Glasgow Hawks 21
STEPHEN BRUNSDON @ Riverside Park
GLASGOW HAWKS secured their second Premiership victory of the season in dramatic fashion against Jed-Forest, after a final-minute try for the hosts was chalked off for a forward pass. Robbie Shirra-Gibb had sprinted over for what he thought had been the match-winning score, but the home side were denied at the death.
Had Hawks succumbed to defeat in the final seconds, it would have been hard to not have some sympathy for the visitors who fought back from an eight-point deficit in the second half to take the lead. Two Liam Brims penalties and a try from Matthew Stewart got them ahead, while the strong defensive structure towards the end proved enough to get Hawks over the line.
The match was a tight affair throughout, with both packs enjoying their purple patches despite a large number of penalties conceded by each side. The two teams shared six apiece in the first half while Jed’s total rose to 14 by the end of the game.
The difference, according to Hawks head coach Andy Hill, was how his side took their chances to score when presented.
“That was a massive work-on for us during the week,” he said. “Last week we had 11 entries into the goal- zone and we got four tries from it. And we said to ourselves that that wouldn’t be enough to beat Jed this weekend. I think every time we went into their 22, maybe bar one time, we came away with points.
“Full credit to the boys, because that is just application of what we’ve worked on in training, and we scored a try in the second half which was massive in us winning the game.”
Despite the high penalty count, it was a relatively open encounter in which both sides attempted to play an expansive style of rugby. It was this approach which suited Jed more than Hawks in the opening 40 minutes.
Gavin Kerr’s men nearly scored straight from the start – which had been pushed back from its original three o’clock kick-off due to Hawks being delayed in arriving to the ground – after winger Mason Cullen gathered an early up-and-under from Gary Munro.
Cullen slewed in and out of would-be Hawks tacklers but was eventually dragged down short of the line. Unfortunately for Jed, the subsequent quick-ball was too quick, with Munro’s pass to Shirra-Gibb wayward, leading to an interception by Hawks full-back Liam Brims.
Before long, Jed were causing yet more problems for Hawks as Shirra-Gibb escaped a Hawks tackle before dinking a carefully weighted chip into the 22, forcing a nervy defensive line-out. The pressure eventually yielded a penalty, which Munro slotted to take a 3-0 lead.
Hawks had barely landed a blow in the opening five minutes, but they bounced back and it wasn’t long before they too were on the scoreboard through a powerful surge by centre Fraser Gosse who bulldozed through Munro to dot down under the posts. Brims converted to take Hawks into a 7-3 lead.
The home side quickly got their revenge through a Shirra-Gibb score on 16 minutes, a try which stemmed from a calamitous re-gather of a fairly innocuous grubber from Jed scrum-half Nik Stingl. The ball rebounded off the leg of Brims and straight into the hands of Shirra-Gibb who needed just to touch down. Munro’s conversion gave Jed the lead once more in an end-to-end opening quarter.
A long-range penalty from Brims brough Hawks back level after 24 minutes, but Munro was able to re-establish Jed’s three-point margin at the break after Hawks infringed from the restart. The half-time lead was increased further when Paolo Ferreria crashed over from short-range just seconds before being subbed off along with fellow front-row partner Grant Paxton.
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Hawks started the second half much brighter than their hosts and Brims narrowed the gap to five points with his second penalty. Jed did have a chance to extended their lead again but Munro’s penalty attempt from the halfway line fell agonisingly short.
Hawks scored their second try courtesy of Stewart, following a lengthy period of pressure in the Jed 22. The Hawks pack got to within yards of the line after a line-out maul, and quick ball out the back from stand-off Joe Strain freed up centre Stewart in swathes of space to cruise over the line. Brims’ touchline conversion strayed wide of the uprights, leaving the scores level at 18-18.
The momentum from that score and the growing handling errors and indiscipline from Jed allowed Hawks to assert their dominance in the loose. Hill’s men also started to boss the territorial game too, pushing Jed back into their own half with excellent probing kicking from hand.
Jed, for their part, were up against it after prop Harry Meadows was yellow carded, a result of continuous offending from the home side. Jed started to chase the game slightly, with loose passes curtailing promising attacking play in the Hawks 22, as well as some poor kicking.
Brothers Lewis and Gregor Young combined nicely with Shirra-Gibb in a lovely counter-attack from deep inside their 22, but again a knock-on following a loose pass gave the initiative back to Hawks.
Brims had kicked his third penalty after Meadows’ yellow, and Jed didn’t look like they had an answer. That was until the final minutes, when they got within inches of the line through second-row Garry Young, then kicked a penalty to the corner from which they created an overlap via Lewis Young and Shirra-Gibb, but referee Ruaridh Campbell called the final pass forward, handing Hawks the victory.
“The performance was so much better than last week against Accies, but I don’t think we dropped our tempo, I think Hawks raised theirs, and to be honest, the forward pass wasn’t the key. The game was lost before then,” said Jed-Forest assistant coach Scott Tomlinson.
“We’re disappointed because I think our forwards really showed up today and showed their dominance, but our backs didn’t finish off their chances which was a shame. We’ve got a difficult game against Aberdeen next week and we need to take the positives from this game and channel that into a better performance.”
As for Hawks, a second win on the bounce has given Andy Hill belief that his side are on the rise, with a stubborn Musselburgh visiting next weekend.
“Musselburgh is always a dead stuffy side for us, we lost to them three times two seasons ago, because we had them in the Cup as well,” he said. “We know we need to be in the right head space, but we’re not looking for one win here and then a defeat, we want to continue this momentum and push for the top of the table.”
Jed-Forest: L Young; M Cullen, G Young, R Marshall, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, N Stingl, G Paxton; F Campbell, P Ferreira, C Skeldon, G Young, B Roff, B McNeill, D Buckley. Replacements: T Jeffrey, H Meadows, D Wardrop, K Grieve, A Bambrick.
Glasgow Hawks; L Brims: T Glendinning, M Stewart, F Gosse, R Joy: J Strain, F Burges: M Downer, P Cairncross, M Ogunlaja, S Halafihi, L McNamara, L Steart, T Brown, A Syme. Subs: I Carmichael, S Greig, J Pinkerton, J Thompson.
Referee: R Campbell
Jed-Forest: Tries: Shirra-Gibb, Ferreira; Cons: Munro; Pens Munro 2.
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Gosse, Stewart; Cons: Brims; Pen: Brims 3
Scoring Sequence (Jed-Forest first): 3-0; 3-5; 3-7; 8-7; 10-7; 10-10; 13-10; 18-10 (h-t); 18-13; 18-18; 18-21.
Yellow cards –
Man-of-the-Match: He didn’t contribute any points but a sterling performance in the loose and, more importantly, in defence from Hawks second-row Sione Halafihi was impossible to ignore. The slight figure was outstanding in the set-piece, despite Hawks having an early wobble in this area, and Halafihi was at the centre of almost all things which worked well for the visitors.
Talking Point: As a rule of thumb, points per entry into the 22 is what wins games and this was most certainly the case at Riverside Park. Hawks made the most of their opportunities while Jed fell short due to a couple of inaccuracies at key moments. This will be a learning experience for Jed who will need better composure if they are to close out similarly tight fixtures in the future, but for Hawks, it was a lesson in efficiency.