Alex Gordon reports
By Hugh Barrow
Hawks face Muir in semi final
Glasgow Hawks 22 Ayr 13
Tries:Boyer 40, Cullinane 50
Pen:Steele 14, 16, 70, 80
Pen:Curle 6, 18
For the second year in a row Hawks knocked out West Coast rivals Ayr out of the BT National Cup at the quarter final stage. Setting the stage for a second succesive semi-final, this time at home against Boroughmuir on the 7th of March.
Ayr went into the match seen as heavy favourites not simply because of the relative league positions of the sides, but also because of Hawks’ having a number of players called up to the Scotland Under-20 side who had beaten Wales on Friday night.
But the coaching team of Jimmy Sinclair, Peter Laverie and Fin Gillies were confident that there was sufficient strength in depth at the club for the match to be played. In this they were entirely vindicated and whilst the match wasn’t a walk in the park the win was comfortable.
There was a cagey start to the game and Hawks had an early surprise when they lost a scrum in the opening moments to a huge Ayr scrummage and then overthrew a lineout. This nervy start was shown when they were penalised for bringing down a maul on their own 22 and Ayr took the lead as Ross Curle stepped up for a straightforward penalty. (0-3)
Ayr suffered a blow when Kerr Gossman picked up an ankle knock after Fin Gillies had tackled him into touch as Hawks pursued a score. Gossman was replaced by Danny McCluskey.
The subsequent lineout was won by Ayr but they could only bat it into touch and Hawks had the advantage. Ayr infringed in their own 22 and Jack Steele stepped up to tie the scores after 14 minutes. (3-3)
Hawks put the pressure on after the re-start and Ayr again conceded in 16 minutes allowing Steele to put the ball over for the lead. (6-3)
It was very much a battle on the knife edge and whilst there was a great deal of physical commitment there was limited amounts of artistry as the Glasgow men tried to play the game in Ayr’s faces.
Andy Kirkland was unlucky to give away a penalty as he instinctively fell on a ball from an offside position, but it allowed Curle to tie the scores as the first quart was about to finish. (6-6)
Hawks’ scrum-half, Paddy Boyer, was simply buzzing and Ayr were struggling to cope with Brendan McGroarty’s bursts from midfield.
Just before the 30 minute mark, Stephen Leckey appeared to have gone over for the opening score, however the stand-side touch-judge called the referees attention to a knock-on and Ayr had a scrum in their 22.
By this point there had been 5 scrums and Hawks’ had been penalised in 3, once again the referee seemed out of his depth amongst the front row. By the end of the match Hawks had “conceded” 7 penalties at the scrum and Ayr only one. It begged the question if Hawks were so poor, why no Yellow card?
In 35 minutes Jack Macfarlane tackled Ayr scrum-half David Armstrong late, it appeared innocuous, but Armstrong exacerbated things by punching Macfarlane. For their pains the Hawks hooker received a yellow card and Armstrong saw red for retaliation. One of the few things the referee was correct about.
In 37 minutes Boyer took a quick tap when there were points on offer and the move led to a turnover. However, he more than made amends for this on the stroke of half-time, Neil Herron burst down the stand-side line before slipping an inside pass to Boyer, who went over for the opening score after some great support play. With the conversion missed Hawks were in a clear lead at half-time. (11-6)
Hawks appeared to get a lift from this score. They dominated the early play and in 50 minutes they had a lineout deep in the visitor’s 22. They lineout won, the pack mauled the ball and on Ayr’s line a series of recycles eventually saw Brendan Cullinane over for the second try as he avoided the desperate efforts of the Ayr defence. Again the conversion was missed but Hawks were clearly in charge. (16-6)
Ayr were not out of the match however, this time it fell to Ayr’s pack to catch and drive from a lineout. It fell to Ayr prop Stuart Fenwick to match his counterpart, Cullinane, and score Ayr’s first try. With Curle converting Hawks lead was cut to 3 points. (16-13)
Ayr upped their pace and started to impose themselves on the match, it was here more than ever that the home defence stepped forward and showed the resilience which has been a hallmark.
In 70 minutes Steele eased the pressure with a 3rd penalty after Ayr had strayed offside. (19-13)
Even although the scores were close the Ayr men seemed to tire and Hawks turned the screw, whilst Steele missed a 74th minute kick at goal, his 80th minute penalty was the final nail in the coffin. (22-13)
The final whistle blew and Hawks had triumphed for the second season in a row against Ayr in the Cup.
Boroughmuir stand in the way, but having been to the final last season Hawks know what they have to do now.