Hawks win at Ayr after 12 years
By Hugh Barrow
David Barnes reports
DAVID BARNES @ Millbrae
REPORTS of Glasgow Hawks’ demise, which circulated as a raft of key players left the club during the summer, have been shown to be greatly exaggerated. Rather than be knocked back by the huge turnover in playing personnel after last year’s third place finish in the BT Premiership, Fin Gillis’ side have now kicked on beyond the achievements of their predecessors in the red and black jersey by claiming a first victory at Millbrae since December 2005.
“We were more physical which is what we asked for, with guys like Cammy Fenton and Kiran McDonald giving us the lead – so we did exactly what we wanted to do. I think we were genuinely the better team, which hasn’t been the case when we’ve played Ayr in the recent past,” said Gillies afterwards, before singling out 18-year-old stand-off Ross Thompson for special praise.
“The good thing about this team is that they’ve got no fear, and why should they? They have no idea who anyone is! I say to Ross that he is up against Frazier Climo and he says: Who’s that? And that’s not a disrespectful thing, he just doesn’t have a clue.”
“I thought he [Thompson] was excellent today. He made a couple of really smart kicks which as an 18-year-old you don’t expect him to do. He’s come here straight out of school and now he’s bossing his team to victory over the Premiership champions. He’s technically very good and I know the Glasgow Academy will have an eye on him already.”
“We made our game plan much simpler and we looked fairly comfortable when we had 15 men on the pitch,” Gillies added.
JJL Groundworks supports Ayr RFC
There were no complaints from Ayr head coach Calum Forrester about the final score-line, just an obvious sense of disappointment that his side had failed to really fire for the third week on the bounce. They need to rediscover their mojo fairly sharpish because high-flying Melrose are due at Millbrae next week, and they will be looking to recreate the 31-44 victory they enjoyed at the same ground in the Charity Shield on the week before the league season got under way.
“I said to our boys afterwards that Hawks had come here and beaten us at our own game. The young boy at ten showed some really good game management in the second half which allowed them to keep in front,” said Forrester.
“We just need to be a little bit more accurate in everything we do. One of the biggest issues at the moment is that we compound an error with another error, so we end up conceding a penalty in their 22, then we concede a penalty on the halfway, then we concede a penalty in our 22, then they score; or we score and then don’t collect the restart and give them cheap points back. Building our own momentum and stopping the opposition’s momentum are two things we have been good at during the last couple of years so we have to work out how to do that again.”
Ayr grabbed the lead in the ninth minute when scrum-half David Armstrong scuttled through a gap at the side of a ruck, then exchanged passes with Ryan Grant, before sending Grant Anderson home. After a period of pressure, Hawks bounced back when McDonald broke quickly to charge down Scott Lyle’s clearance from behind his own line and then dived on the loose ball.
Jack Steele drilled home the conversion to edge the visitors ahead, and that lead was extended to seven points when slick hands from a line-out on the Ayr 22 sent Kyle Rowe over unchallenged. Bobby Beattie deserves particular credit for his role in the creation of this score as the player who created the overlap by collecting the ball under serious pressure and dancing outside of his man before releasing the winger.
Steele stroked over a penalty just before the break to give Hawks a 10-point cushion, which turned into a 13-point cushion early in the second half after a high tackle on Hawks hooker Grant Stewart allowed Steele to help himself to three more points.
It turned into a game of penalty tennis during the next ten minutes with Ayr’s Frazier Climo and Steele taking turns to collect three points for their respective teams; but after Hawks number eight Jake Eaglesham was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on, Ayr finally managed to build up a head of steam which culminated in Climo sending captain Pete McCallum in beneath the kindling.
By the time Eaglesham had returned to the fray, Climo was lining up another penalty, which would have tied the scores had it dissected the posts, but he pushed it wide and now that Hawks were back to full strength they were determined to recapture the initiative – and they did so in sensational style.
Eaglesham was the catalyst by wrestling possession in a tackle inside his own 22, Thompson showed plenty of courage and core strength to dodgem his way through a number of tackles to get his team on the front foot, and then McDonald burst clear from midfield and galloped a magnificent 60-yards home.
Ayr tried to rally but they couldn’t find the spark required to crack an increasingly self-assured Hawks collective. Twice the home team were turned over inside their opponents’ 22 during the final ten minutes, and when they then conceded a scrum penalty in the last minute, the result was confirmed.