Premiership: Selkirk’s second half revival sinks Glasgow Hawks

Hosts showcase attacking flair with 19 unanswered points after the break

Bruce Riddell made his 100th appearance for Selkirk against Glasgow Hawks. Image: Grant Kinghorn
Bruce Riddell made his 100th appearance for Selkirk against Glasgow Hawks. Image: Grant Kinghorn

Selkirk 22

Glasgow Hawks 15

ALAN LORIMER @ Philiphaugh

AFTER two rounds of the Tennent’s Premiership, Selkirk remain unbeaten after following their draw against Hawick with a win over Glasgow Hawks that owed everything to a revivalist second half performance. 

Trailing 3-15 five minutes into the second half, Selkirk found their mojo to score 19 answered points showing real attacking flair that borrowed from the club’s sevens pedigree and complemented their ball-in-hand skills, plus a trenchant defence that repelled Hawks’ efforts to bulldoze over the try line.

Explaining his side’s change of fortune after half time, the Selkirk coach Scott Wight said: “In the second half we went back to basics and played much more direct and won the contact. I think the amount of front foot ball we got in the second half was excellent. That then freed up the likes of Andrew Grant-Suttie and Ryan Cottrell. And all of a sudden you’ve got your backs in space. We’ve got a good backline but we’re just not quite clicking in terms of pulling it all together”.


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There was little question that Selkirk were helped by the contributions off the bench notably from front-row Callum Smyth, who joined the Philiphaugh club from the Northampton Saints Academy, and who was part of the wider Scotland under-18 squad last season.

While Selkirk received a lift from this win, the result was a disappointment for a Hawks side that is still finding its feet. Hawks’ power play seemed to be too much for Selkirk in the first half to the extent that a defeat for the Glasgow side seemed inconceivable. But then the wheels came off the Hawks’ chariot after a number of mistakes that all contributed to a poor second half display.

“We kind of lost momentum” conceded Hawks’ coach Andy Hill. “We compounded error after error, and that allowed them back into the game and gave them a bit of belief. We lost too many line-outs in the second half and we miss-kicked to touch. But pleasingly the first 40 was a really mature performance from a team that’s really young”.

Hawks’ game plan of using their big forward pack to maximum effect was certainly evident in the opening quarter but their first score when it came was all about opportunism and good work by the outside backs.

Selkirk seemed to have gained an advantage when their scrum-half Jack Hamilton intercepted only for the ball to slip from his grip and into the hands of the Hawks’ little used backs. Debut player Andy McLean made the running before delivering a deftly judged pass for wing Ross Darroch to score in the corner, Gavin Cruickshanks’ touchline conversion inflating the try into a full seven-pointer.

Cruickshanks then confirmed his goal kicking accuracy with a penalty goal to put Hawks 10 points clear but five minutes before half-time Selkirk full-back Matt Reid answered in kind. What was a tedious first half ended with Hawks mounting a siege on the Selkirk line but to no avail in the face of the home side’s resolute defence.

 

If the first half had lacked major drama then the second period of play more than compensated and  Hawks opened the third quarter scoring with a try by flanker Andrew Syme from a tap-penalty to create a twelve points lead.

But any suggestion that Selkirk were dead and buried was quickly rebutted. From the restart, Josh Welsh collected the ball, and after excellent ball retention the home side mounted a pick-and-drive attack on the Hawks’ line ending with flanker Andrew McColm diving over for an unconverted try.

McColm was quickly in action again, making a midfield break that allowed Selkirk to repeat their previous assault on the visitors’ line, this time veteran second-row James Head, who was hugely influential in the boiler house, delivering the killer blow with a try converted by Reid to level the scores.

Now with momentum with them and confidence rising, Selkirk were looking more composed in attack and when Ross Nixon used a kick-pass to Welsh, the winger sparked a move that again involved McColm and finished with replacement Lachlan Ferguson racing over in the corner. Reid’s conversion from wide out establishing a seven points lead.

Hawks tried desperately to level the game and looked to have scored in the corner only for Euan Muirhead to knock-on in the tackle just short of the line.  Thereafter Selkirk held out to secure a win that could make a big difference to their season.

 

Teams –

Selkirk: M Reid; J Welsh, R Cottrell, A Grant-Suttie, H Clarkson; R Nixon, J Hamilton; L Pettie, B Riddell, Z Szwagrak, J Head, A Cochrane, A McColm, S McClymont, M Job. Subs: C Smyth, C Graur, C Turnbull, R Godsmark, L Ferguson

Glasgow Hawks: A McLean; R Flett, C Ferrie, B McGroarty, R Darroch; G Cruikshanks, E Davey; M Downer, P Cairncross, G Strain, J McLean, S Leckey, R Hart, A Syme, O Baird. Subs: I Totic, A Al-Agilly, M Crumlish, S Greig, E Muirhead.

Referee: David Young

 

Scorers –

Selkirk: Tries: Job, Head, Ferguson; Cons Reid 2; Pen: Reid.

Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Darroch, Syme; Con: Cruickshanks;  Pen: Cruickshank.

Scoring Sequence (Selkirk first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-10; 3-10 (h-t) 3-15; 8-15; 13-15; 15-15; 20-15; 22-15.

 

Man-of-the-Match: A number of players put their hand up for this accolade. Andy McLean in the Hawks side and from the winning Selkirk team, Ryan Cottrell at centre looks a classy player and James Head led by example in the forwards, but the player who made the crucial contributions was flanker Andrew McColm.

 

Talking point: Selkirk will have gained a massive amount from this win and will want to follow it up with a good display at home against Jed. There are still a few players to return from injury which will give coach Scott Wight difficult choices to make in selection.  For Hawks this was a setback following their win over Heriot’s but what is a young side will surely gel as the younger contingent adjust to the demands of senior rugby.


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About Alan Lorimer 366 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.