HAWKS won the battle of the newly-promoted RBS premiership teams, edging home in a six-try thriller to chalk up their first victory in a game that was tainted by controversy towards the end when Hawick scrum half Bruce Campbell was sent off for stamping at the rear of a disintegrating scrum.
Scorers: Hawks – Tries: Steven, Boyer (2), Adamson. Cons: Adamson (2). Hawick – Tries: McLeod, Anderson. Con: Hunter. Pens: Hunter (2).
Referee: G Wells.
Advantage was played at the time, allowing Hawks scrum half Patrick Boyer to break away, chip over the heads of the defence, catch the ball and dive over for his second and Hawks’ fourth try.
Only then did the referee respond to his touch judge’s call and flash the red card in what seemed to be little more than a tangle of legs among much pushing and shoving.
It meant Hawick played out the last 10 minutes when they were more or less camped in the Hawks half at a numerical disadvantage
Coach Chris Leck said: “It was an appalling decision on the sending off. If you then transfer it onto playing with 14 men and transfer that our final attacking scrum with a scrum half who has never played scrum half and never had to put the ball in before, you’d surely expect a bit of leniency.
“I’m fairly certain it turned the match and that will be the burning question because it was a great game, an even game. Both sides wanted to play rugby. Both sides played really well. I thought Hawks deserved the win overall. If you give people 12 points of a start you can’t expect to win, but lots of character to come in at half time in front. But you can always do what ifs. I don’t do what ifs.”
Hawks coach Jamie Dempsey said: “We scored our final try when they had 15 men on the park so the sending off didn’t affect the game. I think it was a very harsh red card, but I wouldn’t want it to detract from the game because both teams went at it hammer and tongs.
“Our games in the last few seasons have been very close and that is the first time in four seasons we have beaten Hawick on our own patch and that is great because they are a well-coached, well-drilled team with a positive spirit about them.
“We played some terrific attacking rugby and the lads showed good composure after going behind to come out and be a lot more clinical in the second half. It was very pleasing to get our first win.”
Hawks had looked good value for the win early on with two tries in the first seven minutes as they raced into a 12 point lead. First winger Tim Steven scored in the left corner, then Boyer got his first try ghosting round the edge of a pile of bodies on the line to the right of the posts.
Hawick rallied and rapidly turned things around, greatly helped by the influence of Edinburgh pro Gregor Hunter at stand off.
He kicked a couple of penalties and set up a try for centre Scott McLeod with an intelligent diagonal kick that rolled up to the line and sat up and begged to be touched down.
The second try was a solo effort by winger Greg Anderson who saw a wild pass bouncing on the turf, grabbed it and ran from inside his own 22 to go under the posts. The conversion by Hunter made it 12-18.
They didn’t know it then but there would be no more scoring by the visitors.
Hindsight suggests that the watershed came, not with Campbell’s red card, but with Hunter limping off just before half time and Hawick reshuffling their backs who would always struggle to find the same edge again.
Their downfall in the second half was trying to play the ball out of defence and dropping it at the feet of veteran stand off Mike Adamson, who gleefully snapped it up and touched down, adding the conversion himself.
By the time Boyer produced his piece of individual skill for the late killer try, Hawick were already beaten and both sides had just about run themselves into the ground, demonstrating more than enough evidence along the way to justify their places in the Premiership and to give more fancied opponents cause to worry when they come up against them.
Glasgow Hawks: A White; T Steven, A McClay, J Steele, R McClymont; M Adamson, P Boyer; S Findlay, J MacFarlane, J Lohoar, R Wilson, R McKay, A Kirkland, M Bartoszek, R Miller. Subs: C Kerr (for MacFarlane 55), C Bachurzewsk (for Lohoar 55), C Brodie (for Bartoszek 65), R Beattie (for Steele 59), J Wright (for White 50).
Hawick: A Weir; G Anderson, S McLeod, G Johnstone, N McColm; G Hunter, B Campbell; S Muir, L Gibson, W Blacklock, R McAlpine, K Willison, S Graham, K Davies, B McNeil. Replacements: M Landels (for Blacklock 40), R Graham (Johnstone 53), N Mactaggart (for Davies 78), N Renwick (for Hunter 35).