Glasgow Hawks 26
FINN TAIT @ Netherdale
GLASGOW HAWKS prevailed after controversial extra-time battle against an abrasive Gala, with a late Gavin Cruickshanks penalty snatching victory from the jaws of defeat after 100 minutes of bruising rugby.
Victorious coach Andy Hill was less than impressed with his side. “The performance was nowhere near where it needed to be, other than the first 20 minutes where we dominated most of the territory,” he said. “Obviously we rode our luck when Craig Dods’ kick found the post. We did not execute in their half, we must have entered their 22 half a dozen times for no points. As much as it’s good to progress, we have so much to work on going back into Premiership action”
Gala came out the traps firing, forcing an early turnover from Hawks scrum-half Eric Davey then capitalising from the resultant scrum to beak into Hawks’ territory, with Euan Dods bursting onto the ball before releasing his forward comrade Tim McKavanagh to dive over and open the scoring with just a couple of minutes on the clock.
This weekend’s other Scottish Cup results:
Hawks struck back immediately when Calum Harrison found himself with options a plenty after a devastating first phase move off a powerful set-piece and opted to feed his winger Ross Darroch, who cantered home for his eighth try of the season to level things up.
Gala did not back down from the challenge of Premiership opposition and continued to keep the scoreboard ticking withCraig Dods knocking over three points, and it got even better for the Borderers when Jack Easson went quickly from another penalty and the ball found its way to captain Angus Dun, who got over for the hosts’ second try of the afternoon.
The Netherdale men were showing the kind of form and aggression that took them to a hard-fought win at league leaders Kelso last week. 17-year-old James Glendinning was exemplary in his efforts, forcing several turnovers at key moments and rampaging into the line when his experienced fly-half, Dods, fed him the ball.
However, the early Gala dominance was cut short, and Hawks pressure eventually proved too much, with Seb Hastings striding through a scattered home defence from the back of a line-out and touching down for another visiting try
Hawks continued to pile on the pressure marching their way up field and setting up a well-formed maul. The Gala defence was narrowed, and Eric Davey snuck over for another soft Hawks try.
The sides went in at half-time level and the growing tension suggested we were in for an entertaining second 40.
Gala were first to strike in the second half, Dun getting over ball to give Dods another opportunity at points, and with a languid swing of his right boot, he nudged his side ahead and the momentum shifted towards the men in maroon.
But Dods could not turn another Hawks infringement into points after No 8 Glendinning had shown his dancing shoes to leave Darroch snatching at air, and Hawks decided to ring the changes. On came the experienced Gavin Cruickshanks and Brendan McGroarty whose influence immediately steadied the ship, and as Lachlan Johnston was swarmed by red shirts the uncompromising Paul Cairncross forced a penalty, which Cruickshanks turned into three points, leaving it all square again with 10 to play.
With home scrum-half Johnston yellow-carded for backchat, Gala fought off waves and waves of Hawks pressure before eventually yielding a penalty, but Cruickshanks shot at goal drifted wide, and the game remained level with only a handful of minutes remaining.
Hawks came again, pinning Gala back five metres from their own line as the clock went red, and after a few phases that went nowhere, the maroons decided enough was enough and kicked the ball out, meaning extra time with the home team back to full strength.
Gala won possession straight from the kick off and drew a penalty which Dods fired home from 45 metres, but Hawks roared back and looked certain to score only for Henry Lapslie to fumble with the try-line at his mercy.
From the clearance, Gala were perhaps unfortunate to concede a penalty at a breakdown and this time Cruickshanks was on target to level things.
When Hawks were penalised for going off their feet, Dods stepped up but this time his shot at goal struck the upright, and the visitors scrambled back possession to spark another attack, charging down field with caution thrown to the wind, and earning on offside penalty, which Cruickshanks slotted to put his side back in front with two minutes to play.
But the drama did not end there because Hawks infringed at the kick-off and this time Gala went to the corner knowing level scores would give Hawks the win because they had scored more tries.
They inched closer and closer drawing another penalty, Johnston went quick and it looked like he was stopped illegally but the referee disagreed. Dods spun possession towards Mitchell who spilled as he tried to gather, which sealed Gala’s fate.
A narrow Hawks win with no half measures of controversy.
“I am very proud of my side, that effort today has been building for the last few months,” said losing coach Stevie Scott. “I believe we were good enough to win that game, which is very difficult to accept.”
“Its been building since the big win on Boxing Day against Melrose, through the win at Dundee and edging Kelso last week. Today was about digging deep and fighting through the 20 minutes of extra time. The boys hung in there and it’s a real shame that we didn’t take the opportunities we were presented with.”
Gala: K Young; A Mitchell, C Pate, J Turnbull, B Gill; C Dods, L Johnston; K Scott, J Easson, G Brough, E Dods, G Mccrum, T McKavanagh, A Dun, J Glendinning. Subs: M Angus, C Pate, B Ballantyne, M Wilson, R Kerr.
Glasgow Hawks: H Lapslie; H Mitchell, J Pinkerton, C Ferrie, R Darroch; C Harrison, E Davey; M Downer, P Cairncross, G Strain, M Crumlish, S Leckey, L Stewart, S Hastings, Oscar Baird. Subs: T McTeir, A Al-agilly, V Carlsson, G Cruikshanks, B McGroarty.
Gala: Tries: McKavanagh, Dun; Cons: Dods 2; Pens: Dods 3
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Darroch, Hastings, Davey; Cons: Lapslie; Pens: Cruickshanks 3.
Scoring sequence (Gala first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-7; 10-7; 15-7; 17-7; 17-12; 17-17 (h-t) 20-17; 20-20 (f-t) 23-20; 23-23 (h-t) 23-26.
Yellow cards –
Man-of-the-Match: It’s not often a player from the losing side wins man of the match but Gala’s captain Angus Dun encapsulated a physical, dogged Gala performance. His brutality in the loose and his leadership through an gruelling extra period were second to none.
Talking point: Hawks will be concerned by this performance. They toiled in the face of Gala’s physicality and as Andy Hill says, they will have to be far better when they host a resurgent Musselburgh side in two weeks’ time.