Glasgow Hawks 0
ALEX McLEMAN @ Old Anniesland
BOROUGHMUIR live to fight another season in the top division after securing a bonus-point win that lifts them into sixth place. The defeat for Hawks, coupled with Hawick’s victory over league leaders Melrose at Mansfield Park, leaves the Old Anniesland side facing the uncertainty of the one-off match against the runners-up in National One.
It remains to be seen if it is Jed-Forest or Edinburgh Accies who end up occupying second spot in the second tier. Accies have been the longstanding leaders, but Jed beat them 22-6 at home yesterday and now trail only on points differential with four games to go.
“To win the game was the key and we did that with an outstanding performance,” a delighted Boroughmuir head coach, Peter Wright, said post-match.
“That performance was kinda what we had been trying to do all season. To play this type of game, in these crazy conditions and this amount of pressure on everyone, when we knew the loser was potentially going into a relegation play-off game, it was brilliant.
“So yeah, to win 27-0 away from home is a fantastic result and we canny complain about anything. We had some outstanding performances from everybody.”
With a wind chill that could strip years from your life, in addition to intermittent snowfall, there was little surprise neither side managed to sustain much in the way of attacking rugby during the opening half. Neither mastered the wind – which was clocked at 20mph before kickoff – nor the tough underfoot conditions.
Chris Laidlaw did eventually manage to infuse the game with some points, the fly-half breaking the deadlock from the tee with a penalty on the stroke of halft-ime after he and opposite number, Liam Brims, had previously missed otherwise simple penalty attempts earlier in the half.
If the first half was a depiction of two sides struggling with the tough conditions and the stresses of a must-win match, the second half was one of clinical finishing and an illustration of what not to do when your season is on the line. In particular, a 10-minute period of play shortly after the half-time break summed up Hawks’ season.
Trailing 8-0 after Jordan Edmunds had rounded off a length-of-the-field breakaway started by Edinburgh scrum-half Sean Kennedy to extend Muir’s advantage, Hawks found themselves twice inside Boroughmuir’s five-metre line with a stretched defence in front of them and twice coughed up possession. From the ensuing scrum the visitors methodically worked their way up the pitch and added to their lead through Grant McConnell.
Hawks mounted a series of attacks, four times coming within a lunge of the tryline. Steven Findlay was held up twice, but kept pushing forward. Hawks matched Boroughmuir in spirit throughout, pressing until the end when the cause had long been lost, but ultimately lacked that overall class to finish the job. No setback was too great for Hawks to prevent them from getting off the floor quickly to have another go and when the inquest is held on how their season came off the tracks so quickly after such a positive start, endeavour will not be cited as a reason for its failure.
Kennedy added Boroughmuir’s third try on 68 minutes after a slick chip over the top of a ruck, which sat up perfectly for the nippy scrum-half to fall down on. Laidlaw added the conversion to hand Muir a 20-0 lead with 10 minutes remaining, a scoreline that reflected not the run of play but rather the visitors’ greater quality when it mattered most.
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In spite of the unrealistic odds of turning the result around, Hawks kept pushing and in the final moments were pressing for a score before another unforced knock-on yielded possession to replacement winger Michael Brown, who ran untouched home for the bonus-point score. Laidlaw converted to complete the victory and seal Hawks fate.
“I am just disappointed, “ said Hawks head coach Finlay Gillies. “We shouldn’t be in this position: we should not be in the bottom two. The 20 guys I had standing in front of me at the end there are not a second-bottom team. To lose 27-0 to Boroughmuir at home I can only think it is something I am doing wrong and I need to search for an answer.
“The guys that took the pitch today should not be getting beat 27-0. I know they have way more ability than that. I don’t know if it’s the way I’ve set it up, asked them what to do, or if it’s a psychology thing. I don’t really know. I am going to have to look at what I am doing and get us where we should be. This is an ambitious club and we should not be playing in the play-off.”
Glasgow Hawks: P Kelly; E Oag, B McGroarty, J Steele, J Couper; L Brims, P Boyer; S Findlay, G Stewart, G Strain, K McDonald, B Alainu’uese, A Kirkland, C Kerr, S Leckey. Subs: L Skinner, J Spence, F Hastie, G Adams, C Harrison.
Boroughmuir: G McConnell; C Whyte, R Kerr, G Cannie, J Edmunds; C Laidlaw, J Adams; D Robertson, J Matthews, T Gracie, J Ure, F Field, A Mncube, M Walker, C Keddie. Subs: R Montgomery, R Ure, T Drennan, S Kennedy, M Brown.
Scorers: Boroughmuir: Tries: Edmunds, McConnell, Kennedy, Brown. Cons: Laidlaw 2. Pen: Laidlaw.
Scoring sequence: 0-5, 0-8, 0-13, 0-18, 0-20, 0-25, 0-27..
Referee: B Whitefield.
Man of the match: Boroughmuir stand-off Chris Laidlaw controlled play with a composure that eventually found its way into his entire side. He knew when to take his opposition on or spread the play out wide and never put his side under any unnecessary pressure.
Talking point: Peter Wright’s decision to bring on Edinburgh scrum-half Sean Kennedy at half-time proved to be the difference after what had been a tense opening 40. His vision behind the rucks, spotting gaps and crisp, quick passing from the breakdown gave Boroughmuir the edge they needed to cut Hawks open.