Encouraging Win for Hawks South of the Border
Hawks travelled down th M6 to Preston on Saturday to play the local side Preston Grasshoppers that they had last visited in 2005.
On a beautiful sunny but breezy afternoon they gave a performance that pleased the coaching team by winning a tight match by 14 points to 12.
The most pleasing feature was their almost watertight defence, particularly around the fringes of the rucks and mauls and in the centre of the field.
In a game of two halves Hawks were under the cosh for most of the first half but bounced back in the second to take the wind out of their opponent’s sails by scoring two tries. Neither side was at full strength but Hawks had Gary Strain, Andy Kirkland and Stephen Leckey back in the pack and Liam Brims and David Milne in the threequarters and they added experience to a group of players still coming to terms with playing at this level. The positive aspect about such a young side is their level of fitness and speed that meant they outlasted their older and more experienced opponents.
It was a typical early season game, a bit scrappy with numerous handling errors by both sides not helped by a fussy referee who awarded 22 penalties during the game. Part of Hawks problem was that they were on the wrong side of the penalty count at half time to the tune of 10 to 6. Clearly there are some differences in refereeing interpretations south of the border.
During the first 31 minutes there was no scoring and Hawks rarely broke out of their own half. However their defence was outstanding as was the long distance kicking of stand off Kyle Henderson. The first break through came when scrum half Jacob Siems was yellow carded for not retreating 10 metres at a quickly taken penalty. At this stage Hawks ran out of defenders following a series of rolling mauls and the defence was breached.
5-0 conversion missed.
With a touring party of 25 it was important that as many players as possible got some game time and there were multiple changes during the second half. Hawks played far better in the second half and had territorial advantage for abut 90% of it. The penalty count ended up even at 11-11 and this proved to be crucial as Hawks could keep the pressure on with their kicking game.
The lineout was greatly improved from last week and the scrums were solid for half the game. For the remainder it was uncontested scrums as Grasshoppers had run out of front row cover. Grasshoppers defence was as good as Hawks and there were few clear cut scoring chances.
On the hour mark Hawks eventually breached the defence and Nathan Moffat squeezed home for their first try converted by Liam Brims.
With 10 minutes remaining the Grasshoppers fullback dropped a high ball and it bounced nicely for lock forward Sione Halafihi and he romped home from 30 metres out. Liam Brims converted for 5-14.
5 minutes later Liam, uncharacteristically, missed a certain penalty that would have finally secured the win, but all was not lost as Grasshoppers could only fashion a converted scored with the final move of the game.
Final score Preston Grasshoppers 12 Hawks 14 close but enough.
It is always difficult to win these non Scottish games as before arriving you have little idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents. On the day it proved that the teams were well matched and it provided an ideal workout for Hawks.
Next Saturday Hawks are at home at Balgray to Boroughmuir in the final friendly before the season proper gets underway. Hopefully there will be a good turnout to cheer them on. The bar opens at 2pm and the match kicks off at 3pm. Entry is free.
Our thanks go to Preston Grasshoppers for arranging the game and their hospitality. Their ground is amazing with its 4G artificial surface and new floodlights and 5 more grass pitches. The clubhouse is huge and the function suite was set out for a wedding and looked fantastic. They field 5 men’s team and have a large mini and junior rugby section. Sadly there is no club ground in Scotland that can compare with it
Driving back up the M6 to Glasgow we were devastated to receive a phone call to say that, sadly, former Hawks Chairman and devoted club supporter, Tom Howie had passed away earlier in the day at Crosshouse Hospital following a short illness. Our thoughts at this time go out to his wife Aileen and all his extended family