GHA 31 Glasgow Hawks 26
A dull and overcast day greeted all to a very busy Braidholm on Saturday. The Junior Section were holding their annual lunch, the famous Gazelles were entertaining a French touring side and the high flying 2nd XV were entertaining Ayr. There was also the considerable matter of a Glasgow derby against Glasgow Hawks to concentrate the minds of the home side senior squad and supporters. The pitch provided a true playing surface and a large crowd began to assemble early for this long awaited derby match. It was nice to see former star player Michael Scott assisting Kate in bar duties in the well supported Braidholm Boozer. Both sides prepared thoroughly going through a range of drills and set moves. There was an undoubtedly tense atmosphere as match time approached.
Both sides took the field through a guard of honour from the Junior Section players. The home side kicked off with a long searching kick inside the Hawks half. Quickly the home side regained possession and Charlie Lonergan made a searing run through the visitors only being stopped at the Hawks five metre line. Hawks regained the ball and their composure and attacked taking play up to half way. After five minutes the pattern of the match was beginning to be established. Attacking rugby from both sides demanding the defensive talents of both sides meet the challenge. Play moved from end to end at a breathless pace. From a scrum at the home twenty two metre line Hawks produced an astonishing drive from the set piece which hammered the home side backwards and gave the visitors a huge lift. Dario Ewing was given a yellow card and from the resulting penalty Hawks kicked to the corner roared on by their support. An effective catch and drive allowed Hawks to carry the ball with forwards acting in consort and Jack Gemmell went over to score. The conversion failed and the score after seven minutes was GHA 0 HAWKS 5.
The visitors were now intent in trying to establish a dominance in the match but from the restart it was clear that the home side were not going to let this set back stymie their game plan. Erlend Oag broke from midfield from a pass from Sandy Greig but GHA defence forced the ball loose just inside the Hawks half. As we moved into the tenth minute, GHA drove at the heart of the Hawks defence with messrs Gillman, Mollison King and Craig making progress reinforced by further penetration by Jamie McCarthy Adam Barnett and Tony Brogan and Sean Fisher. The home side were working hard to retain the ball and make ground and a superb break by the impressive Jackson Baillie was only stopped on the Hawks five metre line. Both sets of supporters were cheering their respective side on. As we moved towards the quarter hour, Hawks had to defend resolutely against continual GHA drives from FIsher, Clark McCutcheon and Brogan. Shortly after being awarded a penalty the home side took the ball back into the forwards and in a very well executed drive thundered over the Hawk line to allow Hamish Clark to score. The conversion failed and after eighteen minutes the score in this hectic match was: GHA 5 HAWKS 5.
The visiting side immediately took the match straight back to the home side and it was GHA’s turn to defend stoutly against a number of incursions inside their half. A clever combination of close passing between messrs Henderson and Alagilly penetrated the home side and required an excellent tackle from Jackson Baillie to halt the visitors progress. However with the home defence stretched Hawks moved the ball with precision and in a close contact situation near the home try line Kerr Gossman managed to twist through a tackle and score to the delight of the visiting support. The try was converted and the score after twenty four minutes was now: GHA 5 HAWKS 12.
Play moved from end to end in a pulsating match. This was as much a mental as physical confrontation as both sides fought for control of the match. As we moved past the half hour great forward work by Fisher, Barnett and McCarthy drove the Hawk side into their own half. GHA forwards were making inroads with the terrier like support of Andrew Gillman urging them on. Jack Anderson was causing Hawks to hesitate in defence as he mixed short kicks with longer positional kicks and accurate passing . After thirty five minutes a well presented ball from quick handling allowed Ruairi O’Keefe to score in the corner to the delight of the home support. The conversion failed and the score was now: GHA 10 HAWKS 12. Both sides continued to attack each other but defences held to allow us to reach half time with the score: GHA 10 HAWKS 12.
It had been a fast moving first half with both sides committed to attacking at every opportunity. Neither side seemed able to gain any lengthy dominance and the match was nicely balanced. However within minutes of the restart Hawks managed to gain a measure of dominance which they fought hard to retain. In a well worked piece of recycling in the loose, Stephen Leckey broke through to score. The try was converted and the score after three minutes was; GHA 10 HAWKS 19.
This was a huge set back for the home side and suddenly Hawks began to force the home side on to a defensive footing inside their own half. Despite this pressure, there were no signs of panic in the GHA lines, Rather the home side tried manfully to stem the growing feeling of confidence waxing through the play of Hawks. A further blow happened shortly after this score when Dario Ewing was adjudged to have made a late tackle on a Hawks player and was dismissed. GHA now really had to apply all their knowledge and fieldcraft to offset this player disadvantage. It is to their enormous credit that their ensuing play was so full of vigour and intent that it was easy to forget momentarily that they had lost an excellent player. Indeed having weathered the initial effort from Hawks, the home side began to impose their will on the match. A combination of forward drives, recycling and clever and accurate positional play by the backs was stretching the Hawk defence in their own half. By the fifteenth minute, Hawks had begun to wrestle control of the match from the home side and excellent work by messrs Henderson Christie Gemmell and Harrison allowed Hawks to gain ground with the ball safely retained. Liam Brims at stand off had asked questions of the GHA defence all day and it was only fitting that from just inside the GHA twenty metre area he produced a lovely swerve inside which wrong footed the GHA defence to allow him to score a try. He converted his own try and the score after twenty minutes was now: GHA 10 HAWKS 26.
Visiting supporters celebrated perhaps feeling that the brave effort by GHA had fallen short and that there was now clear distance between the teams. However there is a resilience and determination about this GHA squad which should never be discounted.. In an astonishing about turn the home side actually began to increase the pace of the match and began to string together a series of threatening forward and back combinations which forced the visitors on to the back foot. The home support made their voices heard as they expressed their appreciation at the efforts of the home side. As we reached the twenty fifth minute of the half the visiting side elected for a scrum on their twenty two metre line when a line out ball for GHA had not been straight. Incredibly the home side found the energy and technique for a huge drive which forced Hawks to concede a penalty. Jack Anderson carefully placed the kick inside the five metre are and Adam Kerr rose superbly to secure the ball and initiate a catch and drive ploy by the GHA forwards. The ball was released as Hawks forwards were driven backwards and a clever kick across the field was gathered by GHA and recycled before Grant Mollison dived over to score. Jack Anderson from a long way out put over a superb conversion and the score was now after around thirty minutes: GHA 17 HAWKS 26. Willed on by the home crowd, GHA gathered the restart and immediately put pressure on the Hawks defence inside the visitors half. Once again Hawks conceded a penalty and the home side quickly took the kick and moved up to the five metre area. In a well executed catch and drive Adam Barnett went over to score. Andrew Kirkland of Hawks was yellow carded for interference and Jack Anderson converted to give his side and the home support belief that the day could yet be theirs. After thirty three minutes the score was now: GHA 24 HAWKS 26.
The crowd and players began to glance at the scoreboard to check how long was left. Injuries and stoppages meant that there may be several minutes to be added to this incredible match. Hawks tried manfully to stem the surge of pressure which came at them from GHA. Crucial lineouts were lost by GHA which suggested that they may fall just short of their attempts to win the match. A sudden break out in the dying embers of the match by Hawks required a vital tackle by Jackson Baillie to stop Hawks progress on halfway. GHA quickly gathered the ball and went straight for the line. With the forty minutes come and gone the home side were awarded a very kickable penalty in front of the posts . George Baird took a quick one and wriggled his way into the arms of the Hawk forwards. This quick penalty actually seemed to wrong foot the visitors who had along with most of the crowd expected GHA to take the kick. There was confusion in visitor ranks as GHA calmly and with total concentration fought to tidy the ball. However with everyone looking for the final whistle Hawks cleared the danger but only just inside their twenty two metre area. In the last seconds of the match the home forwards, ignoring all the hysteria around them in the stands caught and drove through the Hawk defence. To ecstatic scenes Michael Fox drove over between the posts to win the match for the home side as a devastated visiting side looked at each other in disbelief. Amidst the scenes of celebration, Jack Anderson calmly slotted home the conversion as the referee blew for full time. The final score was: GHA 31 HAWKS 26.
This had been a thrilling game of all out attacking rugby with every score the result of great pressure and first class execution from both sides. Hawks perhaps felt they had secured the points with a purple patch in the second half but could not counter the level of commitment and self belief that is running through this GHA squad . This was a derby which truly lived up to the name.
GHA: G. MOLLISON, J. CRAIG, C. LONERGAN, C. KING, J. BAILLIE, J. ANDERSON, A. GILLMAN, T. BROGAN, H. CLARK, S. FISHER, A. BARNETT, J. McCARTHY (c), A. KERR, D. EWING, L.McCUTCHEON – Replacements: M. FOX, M. RYAN, M. MARINKOVIC, G. BAIRD, R.O’KEEFE
SCORERS: T – BARNETT, CLARK, FOX, MOLLISON, O’KEEFE C – ANDERSON (3)
HAWKS: Y. ALAGILLY, K. GOSSMAN, E. OAG, C. HENDERSON, M. GODSMAN, L. BRIMS, S. GREIG, L. ARCHER, J. GEMMELL, G. STRAIN, A. KIRKLAND, S. LECKEY, P. HENDERSON, S. DOW, F. CHRISTIE – Replacements: T. MCTIER, J. McLEAN, M. PRIESTLY, C. HOLBORN, K. HENDERSON
SCORERS: T – BRIMS, GEMMELL, GOSSMAN, LECKEY C – BRIMS (3)