Glasgow Hawks 14
IAIN HAY @ Fullarton Park
FORTRESS FULLARTON more resembled the Florida Everglades after an overnight and morning deluge but in the end it was Marr who crawled through the mud and mastered the wind to seal a full five-points for their league challenge.
“I’m happy with the performance, Hawks are a tough side. First half we played really, really well – obviously with the wind which helped us – and second half I thought our discipline was pretty poor but all in all, a good performance and good to bounce back from Hawick last week and get a bonus point here at Fullarton” said stand-in Marr head coach for the afternoon Stephen Adair, being watched from the sideline by former mastermind Craig Redpath.
With Marr having the wind in their sails in the first half, Hawks head coach Andy Hill expected his said to go in at the break behind but had hoped for a bit more fortune. “I always thought we were going to be maybe two or three scores behind going in at the break, it was going to be tough with that wind, but the boys handled it really well defensively, we just never really got a break,” he said.
Hill may have a point. Although Marr were deserved winners, hat-trick hero Blair Jardine scored his first when the ball had popped out of a Marr scrum, and questions were asked about the grounding of his third. But, overall, the hosts were more clinical when the opportunities came their way.
A solid opening defensive display from Hawks saw Marr take nearly 15 minutes to break through, with Sione Halafihi throwing in some big hits and James Couper just doing enough to recover from being stepped and get back and stop Jake Jacobson from scoring in the left-hand.
Almost predictably, the opener came from a Bickerstaff, with Jardine peeling off the back of a scrum, and two passes later Scott Bickerstaff was over for the first try of the match, Colin Sturgeon harnessing the stiff north-easterly to bisect the posts.
The wind seemed to also be playing havoc with the Hawks’ line-out as they lost their first three in a row, which led to relentless Marr pressure and Jardine’s first.
Hawks had their first sniff of points after a nice step and break by Ryan Flett who fed Callum Ferrie, and although the centre had open field to the line, he was chased down by Scott Bickerstaff, and Hawks eventually conceded the penalty.
Jardine got his second from a maul try which Hill had described as “soft”, and it was on the stroke of half-time that Jardine bounced off the tackle attempt of James Imrie before grounding, at least in the eyes of the far-side touch judge/referee assistant.
Now, with the wind beneath their wings, Hawks landed their first blow less than ten minutes into the second period, a nice move finished off by Couper in the corner from Euan Muirhead’s well-timed pass.
As Hawks grew in confidence and started winning the battle of the breakdown, Marr’s discipline fell off a cliff, as it had done a fortnight ago here against Heriot’s Blues, but solid defence from them, and some wrong options from Hawks, meant they couldn’t reduce the deficit any further, and the hosts then showed their clinical side to extend their lead.
After laboriously working their way up field into the headwind, Sturgeon took the clever option off knocking a little grubber in behind the Hawks’ last line, replacement Jack Scott picking a slippery, dribbling ball, up off his toes and over in the left-hand corner he went.
Following a delay for a serious looking injury to Hawks’ No 8 Tiaan Wright, Hawks won a scrum penalty on resumption of play, only then to knock on after tapping and going, and with ten minutes left there was too much to do to claim even a losing bonus, even though Ali Rogers and Sturgeon were yellow carded either side of another Couper try.
Marr: C Inglis; S Bickerstaff, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff, J Jacobson; C Sturgeon, G Baird; A Rogers, S Reekie, A Apthorpe, D Andrew, C Young, C Smith, B Johnston, B Jardine. Subs: B Sweet, F Grant, K Vallance, R Baird, J Scott
Glasgow Hawks: E Muirhead; R Flett, J Pinkerton, C Ferrie, J Couper; G Cruickshanks, J Imrie; K Shanahan, A Burgess, M Goodwin, T Sofidaya, S Halafihi, JP Thomson, C Nolan, T Wright. Subs: O McKenna or E Cairns, F Muir, Y Shaheen, D McCartney, S Graham.
Referee: John Smith
Marr: Tries: S Bickerstaff, Jardine 3, Scott; Cons: Sturgeon.
Hawks: Tries: Couper 2; Cons: Cruickshanks 2.
Scoring sequence (Marr first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 21-0; 26-0 (h-t) 26-5; 26-7; 31-7; 31-14; 31-14.
Yellow Cards –
Marr: Rodgers, Sturgeon
Player-of-the-Match: A hat-trick and a hard day carrying coal through a swamp, it can only be Blair Jardine.
Talking point: There was some relatively positive news received post-match from Andy Hill over the Tiaan Wright injury, in that he doesn’t appear to have any neck or spinal damage, but is believed to have been concussed.