1st XV vs Glasgow Hawks: Match Report
After the ‘Miracle in Medinah’, the question was: could Stewart’s Melville emulate Europe’s famous victory in the Ryder Cup and bring high flying Hawks – with 29 points already accumulated out of 30 – back to the chasing pack in the Scottish National League?
Although our ultimate triumph will not be as widely reported as events on the other side of the ‘Pond’, it required the same dogged, collective belief and moments of inspiration that underpinned that result in Chicago to achieve a victory that was unexpected to all outside the Stew Mel team.
In the second half, Scott Brewster put in what used to be called a tackle and is now more accurately referred to as a ‘hit’ under the posts at the Castle end. It was the kind of bone crunching hit that must have left the reminiscing Alexander Kinloch Brewster purring proudly in the stand.
Then, when Liam manfully tackled the onrushing centre, Milne, when Milne had options left and right, and then Richard bravely marked an intelligent cross kick from Adamson, it was obvious that this was a game we were not going to lose without a fight.
Indeed, this was our bravest defensive display since the ‘Mudbath at Mansfield’ at the beginning of the year. If Scott was our ‘Poults’ – and he also proved a prolific source of ball at the front of the lineout – we had, in Angus, Ben and Craig, others who selflessly put their bodies on the line.
The lineout generally functioned well, with a lot of good ‘off the top’ ball – ball that gives the threequarters options. It is strange to report that, although we only had 40% of possession (at most), it was the forwards ‘what’ (sic) won it.
The game started fashionably late due to traffic problems on the M8, but Hawks did not seem inconvenienced by this and Adamson kicked an early penalty. Hawks looked accomplished in the backs and solid up front, and you sensed that, if we gave them any latitude whatsoever, we would be in for a ‘long afternoon’.
Slowly we came more into the game, and, midway through the half, we won a penalty at the edge of place kicking range. Marshall still kicked for the corner, the lineout was duly won and a text book rolling maul let Angus in for the try, which Mike Hanning converted. The score gave us a huge lift, as we realised that, perhaps, Hawks were not world beaters after all, and that we could compete effectively with them.
We swapped our front row – and what a boost it is to have three able, interchangeable props for what was a hard afternoon at the ‘coal face’. The referee gave a yellow card against Haddon MacPherson for a tip tackle on Struan Allan, making our task slightly easier as we knew from past encounters with Hillhead what a slippery character he can be.
Then, on the stroke of half time, a piece of luck, as Hawks fly half White dropped the ball, and, in trying to clear, had his kick charged down by the on-rushing Marshall, who followed up to touch down. The referee consulted with his assistant and the try was duly awarded. Hanning converted to give a half time score of 14-3 in our favour.
The first half was even and the feeling in the stand was that, if we could get a bit of ball and territory, we might close this one out. In the event, we got less ball, and were never in the Hawks half – apart from re-starts – until the last five minutes. The fact that we still only yielded a penalty to Adamson and a try to replacement prop Henderson spoke volumes for our defence – and, it must be said, Hawks’ decision making.
You make your own luck, though, and there was certainly no easy way through Hanning, Marshall and Lingard. Mike Hanning also has an outside break, and that is the simplest way to unlock a defence, because, once the break is made at 10, the threequarters line up outside (remember Cash!)
Inside Mike, Scott Richards, our fourth scrum half in seven league games, played well. He organised the forwards and generally made the correct decisions.
Into the last five minutes then, and Angus (back on the field after receiving a yellow) galloped free in mid field; a try, which would have finished the job there and then, looked on, but somehow Hawks scrambled clear. The last five minutes were played out around the half way line, with our forwards keeping it tight and Hawks desperate for the ball, until the welcome long blast came.
Mike Adamson (Scotland Sevens player and Hawks full back)
‘The build-up was disrupted, but that’s no excuse. We were taken aback a bit by the intensity of Stew Mel in the first half, and we made a lot of individual errors, but the second half we should have won. We did not take Stew Mel lightly as we knew that the early results (that you lost) were close. We have only got ourselves to blame.’
Hawks match report here