Glasgow Hawks 7
LEWIS STUART @ Balgray
A TOTALLY miserable week for Finlay Gillies, the Glasgow Hawks coach, ended in even more dejection as he saw his team throw away an early lead and any number of scoring chances to put themselves firmly in the relegation battle – assuming there is a change of heart on early talk of scrapping the drop as part of the Super Six launch next season.
For Gillies, it was a dreadful end to a dreadful time with his expectations of moving up to a contract at the new Super Six level being dashed. “I can confirm I will not be a Super Six coach next,” he revealed. “I’ll keep fighting, that’s all I can do.
“I am emotionally drained and broken by that performance. It was the worst possible outcome for us: we got what we deserved. In the past I have tried to take a lot of responsibility myself but I don’t know how much more I can take.”
On the other side of the divide was George Graham, a coach who has been there at the top level and says he is relishing his return to his roots, who was clearly delighted at finally seeing his side claim their first away win since beating Marr almost exactly a year ago. “I am very happy with the result,” he said. “It was always going to be a scrappy game in the conditions and it was never a game for the spectators, more a game for the purists.
“We tried to play a little but the ball was going down and we were not making any inroads so I said to them in the second half ‘Listen, we need to play territory and if it needs to be 10-man rugby, it needs to be 10-man rugby’. We adapted to the conditions better than Hawks and took our opportunities.”
The truth was that in a match played in persistent rain, wind and mud neither side really showed any hint that they could rise above the conditions. Handling was poor to dreadful, the kicking largely aimless, and neither team could find any real continuity to build consistent pressure.
Premiership Match Reports:
Hawks had taken an early lead as they kicked to the Hawick line, forced a scrum five metres out and No 8 Bruce Flockhart drove over for the opening try with Josh Henderson converting after only five minutes of play. Those were the only points of the first half, and for a while it looked as though the score drought might last the rest of the match until Hawick earned a penalty as the game approached the 50-minute mark for Lee Armstrong to convert.
That produced Hawick’s best spell of the game, though there was more than a little luck in their go-ahead try as Bruce McNeil appeared to knock on in a drive into the opposition 22. Hawks seemed to stop, waiting for the whistle only for the referee to rule that the ball had been kicked on, leaving the Greens with a simple job of booting the ball to the home line with Shawn Muir, the prop and captain, getting there first.
Hawks still had plenty of chances to regain the lead or even draw level with a penalty but their handling was not up to the task of exploiting the gaps they created. So it was Hawick who took the spoils, going four points clear of Hawks in the battle not to finish in the bottom two and risk the chances of dropping out of the top flight. A tough day for Gillies and with the weather and the Balgray pitch unlikely to improve in the months to come, it’s hard to see where his festive cheer will come from.
Glasgow Hawks: S Peffers; J Cooper, C Sykes, R Beattie, E Oag; J Henderson, K Barreto; G Strain (C), A Fraser, L Skinner, A Kirkland, F Hastie, G Adams, M Smith, B Flockhart. Subs used: P Cairncross, C Willis, C Thomson, P Boyer, L Brims.
Hawick: A Weir; R McKean, A Mitchell, G Walker, D Lightfoot; L Armstrong, G Welsh; S Muir (C), M Cryer, N Little, D Suddon, D Redpath, D Lowrie, S Graham, B McNeil. Subs used: C Renwick, D Johnston, G Lowrie, S Fairbairn, L Ferguson.
Referee: B Blain.
Glasgow Hawks: Try: Flockhart; Con: Henderson.
Hawick: Try: Muir; Con: Armstrong; Pen: Armstrong.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Hawks first): 5-0; 7-0 (h-t) 7-3; 7-8; 7-10.
Man of the Match: As Hawick turned to 10-man rugby Bruce McNeil was unstoppable in driving his side forward.
Talking point: In dreadful conditions, Hawick just about deserved the win for adapting better to the weather.