Hard to take loss
By Hugh Barrow
Bonus loss at Mansfield
GLASGOW Hawks became the second city side to experience the January blues at Mansfield Park after suffering the same fate as Heriot’s a week earlier in losing to a resurgent Hawick.
Moreover, the manner of defeat was uncannily similar as Hawick for a second successive Saturday delayed their coup de grace until injury time when the Greens ‘won’ a penalty try.
It was a sickening blow for Hawks, who had come to Mansfield Park seeking a win to boost their position in the Premiership, forcing their coach Finlay Gillies to admit that his side had, in a manner of speaking, blown it.
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“We should have come here and got four points. To be honest, now we’re no longer looking up but looking down in terms of the table. Now we’re looking at our position in a different light,” he said.
Hawks fired multiple shots into their collective feet throughout the match by giving away a string of penalties, leaving Gillies frustrated and not knowing exactly how to explain his side’s blunders.
“Maybe we’re not a very disciplined side,” offered Gillies. “But maybe I need to take a bit of responsibility. I gave the guys a couple of weeks off over the festive period. Having said that, we trained well this week and looked sharp.”
“For six minutes of the first half we played rugby. The rest of the time we were terrible. The recurring theme was penalties. It seems to be the elephant in the room for Glasgow Hawks.”
“We gave away about five penalties in quick succession from which they scored their first try. And our next involvement was a yellow card. I don’t know what more I can do. I don’t accept this level of penalties. Maybe I’m not being hard enough. But they’re adults – it doesn’t need me to say what they shouldn’t do.
For those who have not watched the George Graham version of Hawick there would have been some surprise at the dominance they achieved in the scrum at vital stages in the game – but Gillies wasn’t surprised.
“I watched their scrum last week and I thought it was very strong. They were dominant in the middle and again at the end. I think George used his bench very well,” he said.
One aspect of his side’s performance which did please Gillies was Hawks’ ability to stop the Hawick rolling maul.
“We did really well to defend the maul. I was a bit puzzled about some of the decisions at the maul but regardless of that we did well to defend well there. But then we gave away a stupid penalty for offside. That’ s unforgivable. You work so hard to stop the maul and then you give them another chance with a penalty,” stated Gillies.
Hawks could have won the match with accuracy from the tee. In the event their teenage stand-off Ross Thompson, missed a conversion and a penalty attempt, adding up to five points which would have made a difference. At least the narrow defeat did provide Hawks with one dividend.
“We got a [bonus] point from this game but things don’t get easier. We’ve got Currie Chieftains next week, and they’re flying high. We still don’t know where we’re playing them in Glasgow [due to the on-going unavailability of Old Anniesland due to a sink hole which appeared last summer on the periphery of the main pitch]. It’s proving to be a difficult season.”
Hawick led 7-5 at the break from a rolling maul try by Matt Carryer converted by Lee Armstrong, to an unconverted try for Hawks by second-row Fraser Hastie, which came in first half injury time after umpteen phases of play.
Hawks stepped up the tempo at the beginning of the second half and after the impressive Paddy Boyer had broken clear Calum Kerr cruised over for his side’s second try, this time the conversion attempt by Thompson went over.
In the final few minutes, Hawick gained control of the scrummaging battle resulting in the loss to the bin of Hawks’ Jake Eaglesham, and more importantly for the Greens a penalty-try to win the match.