THE west may hold the whip hand when it comes to professional rugby but Heriot’s won this inter-city derby for the capital despite Hawks mounting a highly effective second-half fightback that dragged the Glasgow club to within three points of their rivals but no closer.
Glasgow Hawks 10 - 31 Heriot’s
At Broadwood Stadium
Heriot’s scored three tries to Hawks’ one, while Graham Wilson added 16 points with the boot.
An entertaining and expansive game deserved a bigger crowd than the 3,322 souls who made the trip to Cumbernauld’s picturesque Broadwood Stadium, even if neither side looked after the ball especially well. That number was the accumulated total for the afternoon and there were a lot fewer than that in the stands by the time the main draw got under way.
On the artificial surface the entire game was played at fast forward pace, like one of those old black and white movies where everyone moves in double quick time. Against that there did seem to be a few more stoppages than you might expect on grass as players’ bodies suffered on the hard surface.
Both sides were probably guilty of kicking a little too much in what were ideal conditions, especially if the first few phases didn’t result in breaking the defensive line.
The plastic pitch suited the high tempo rugby of Heriot’s and the Edinburgh club threw the ball about like a pre-season friendly rather than a cup final. Jason Hill and Michael Maltman, when the latter appeared, carried the game tirelessly to Hawks. Graham Wilson chipped and chivvied the troops from scrum-half and Heriot’s simply had a little too much class in the backs where Cammy Ferguson, Colin Goudie and flyer Harry Boisseau were a cut above their opposite numbers. Only in the set scrum did Hawks hold several trump cards without ever doing enough to capitalise on the advantage.
Heriot’s gave the ball plenty of width and the tactic bore fruit as early as the 15th minute when Colin Goudie’s smart pass put Harry Boisseau into acres of space around the half-way mark. The winger lit the afterburners and the cover defence didn’t come close as he dived over in the corner. Graham Wilson had already slotted an early penalty, the scrummy added this conversion and kicked his second penalty a little later to give Heriot’s a 13-0 lead.
Hawks were not helped by the fact that Jack Steele had an off day with the boot. His first attempt from 48 metres straight in front was a long shot, his second attempt was 20 metres closer and still he flubbed it. His third shot was reversed after an intervention by the touchie who had seen some skulduggery at the breakdown. If that wasn’t enough, Hawks also lost centre Ally Maclay to injury with the most experieced back giving way to promising youngster Neil Herron around the 20-minute mark.
Hawks’ best moments came when right winger Tom Steven popped up in the midfield. The first time he was almost away, only for a Heriot’s hand to scrag him at the last minute. On his second attempt the winger ignored a two-man overlap, cut inside and the chance went west. Wilson missed a penalty with the last kick of then first half but, with a 13-0 lead, Heriots could afford the largesse.
Hawks needed the first score of the second 40 and sure enough their set scrum won a penalty under the posts and it proved third time lucky for Steele as the centre finally gave his side a toe hold in this final. Not long after twin penalties took Hawks from their own line to within five metres of the Heriot’s whitewash where they drove a lineout and prop Brendan Cullinane eventually twisted his way over the line. Gavin Lowe couldn’t miss the conversion and suddenly Heriot’s had a game on their hands.
It remained a three-point match as it entered the final quarter and it seemed like the next score could be a big one. The best chances all fell to Heriot’s who thought they had scored on 64 minutes when replacement Craig Owenson thought he had grounded the ball. The TMO thought otherwise but Wilson doubled Heriot’s advantage with his third penalty of the match on 65 minutes, quickly followed by his fourth just four minutes later.
A second try added some icing on the cake when skipper Jack Turely scored five minutes from time and Liam Steele did the same with the last play of the game to signal the start of the Heriot’s celebrations.