A wins a win
By Hugh Barrow
Offside Line reports from a cold Balgray
ELÉNA de MELLO HOGARTH @ Balgray
FIN GILLIES hailed his Glasgow Hawks players as ‘brave’ as they held on for a one-point win against Edinburgh Accies at a bitterly cold Balgray. It wasn’t pretty as both teams scrapped for supremacy, with the great will-they-won’t-they relegation deliberation raging on in the background, but head coach Gillies was rightly pleased as the home team withstood a spirited fightback from the visitors.
This victory lifts Hawks above Hawick to third bottom of the Premiership table, but Gillies’ men face a tough final two matches, away to Ayr next week and at home to Stirling County at the start of March, and they only have a single point cushion. For Accies, it is hard to see a way for them now to escape the basement slot, unless they can pick up bonus point wins against both Watsonians at home and Currie Chieftains away, and hope that Hawick gets nothing out of their final two games.
Hawks had it all their own way in the first fifteen minutes, pinning Accies into their own half. The only concern was their unsure line-out, which Accies lock Michael Badenhorst happily messed up. Stand-off Liam Brims had an early shot at goal but it drifted wide before his next sailed between the uprights. The lead was stretched thanks to prop Gary Strain, who burrowed over after patient play from the forwards. Brims added the extras..
Proud supporter of Glasgow HawksAccies worked hard to break out of their own half with their centre pairing of Neil Armstrong and Robbie Kent doing some real damage. Whilst Armstrong did the grunt work of battering through the tacklers, Kent’s quick feet meant he could chase stand-off Vincent Hart’s chip and collect for a try, which Hart converted.
Hawks had another kickable penalty that just missed before a high tackle on Accies’ Nick Stephen saw lock Fraser Hastie yellow-carded. Another high tackle followed, this time by Accies and not so serious as to warrant ten minutes in the bin, but it lost the visitors their momentum and before they knew it, they were locked out of Hawks’ half and the home team were deep into their 22.
Again, it was patience that brought Hawks a try, number eight Gary Adams getting the ball down just before half-time. There was no conversion from Brims.
The second half saw both teams leak penalties, and there were ever fraying tempers. Accies desperately tried to get a handle on the game with Armstrong and Kent again making inroads but just not quite getting anywhere.
There was a lovely chip by Hawks’ scrum-half Kaleem Barreto for winger James Couper to chase but it bobbled into touch before he could get a hand to it.
Even when Hawks’ replacement Paul Cairncross was sin-binned, Accies couldn’t capitalise. It seemed nothing was going their way; Hart’s penalty attempt hit the post. However, they upped their intensity levels, harrying and harassing Hawks as much as they could, and they pushed on into the Hawks’ 22 and camped out there.
With five minutes left on the clock, the shouts from touchline were to take the points but Accies opted for the scrum when Hawks were repeatedly penalised, and captain Jamie Sole‘s decision was vindicated when he finally crashed over, and replacement Richard Mill converted.
There was just time for one more go for Accies, Mill finding a tiny gap in the Hawks’ defence but the visitors were pinged for holding on.
“A win’s a win for us at this time of the year, and we probably deserved it,” said Gillies. “That was about the bravest performance I’ve seen from Hawks. The guys have just gritted their teeth for 80 minutes. The boys were just brave. Two yellow cards and we still win; let’s take that.”
“I think we just ran out of time,” said Accies head coach Derek O’Riordan. “If there had been another five, ten minutes in that game, I’m sure the outcome would have been different. Hawks did all the damage they needed to do early doors in terms of territorial pressure on us, and starved us of any possession, so we couldn’t really do anything for their first 40, 50 minutes.”
Apartments in Leith
Glasgow Hawks: R Thompson; J Couper, M New, L Masaga, E Oag; L Brims, K Barreto; G Strain, A Fraser, L Skinner; A Kirkland, F Hastie, C Thomson, S Leckey, G Adams. Subs used: P Cairncross, P Boyer, G Faulds.
Edinburgh Accies: H Paterson; C Gray, R Kent, N Armstrong, J Pecqueur; V Hart, M Love; C Imrie, R Simpson, M McGinley; Ronan Seydak, M Badenhorst, J Mann, N Stephen, J Sole. Subs used: C Black, M Sinclair, R Mill.
Referee: R Mabon
Glasgow Hawks: Tries: Strain, Adams; Cons: Brims; Pens: Brims.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Kent, Sole; Cons: Hart, Mill.
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Hawks first): 3-0; 10-0; 10-7; 15-7 (h-t) 15-14.
Yellow cards –
Glasgow Hawks: Hastie, Cairncross
Man-of-the-Match: It was a day for cool heads and clear thinking and prop Gary Strain led by example.
Talking point: This could have been Accies’ win, especially as they had two ten-minute periods with the man advantage, but they only managed to move up through the gears as the clock ticked down to full-time.