A fine disregard for reputations was on display on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Millbrae as a precocious Glasgow Hawks side secured their club’s first victory in South Ayrshire since December 2005 by beating their esteemed hosts at their own game.
Last year’s champions were lethargic and careless while the visiting ranks were packed full of bright young things desperate to make their mark.
Grant Stewart, Kiran McDonald, Cammy Fenton and Jake Eaglesham put in monstrous shifts in the pack, while teenage stand-off Ross Thompson combined the fearlessness of youth with the common sense of a player twice his age to orchestrate a simple but effective game plan.
Robert Beattie at full-back and Kyle Rowe on the left wing also showed up well, but this was a team effort and the key to success was Hawks’ ability to match Ayr’s intensity.
There was a wobble midway through the second half when Eaglesham was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on, but Hawks recovered marvellously with the try of the match, scored by McDonald romping home from 60 yards, as soon as they had been returned to full numbers.
The home team started the match well with scrum-half David Armstrong and former Glasgow Warriors, Scotland and Lions prop Ryan Grant combining to send full-back Grant Anderson in for the opening try after nine minutes, but Hawks bounced back almost immediately and then nosed themselves into the lead when the impressive McDonald charged down Scott Lyle’s clearance kick and flopped on the ball in Ayr’s in-goal area to set up a Jack Steele conversion.
Slick hands sent Hawks winger Kyle Rowe, pictured, over on the left a few minutes later, and although Steele could not make the conversion count, he was on target with a penalty just before half-time to extend his team’s lead to 10 points at the break.
Steele and home stand-off Frazier Climo exchanged two penalties each during the third quarter, before Eaglesham was sent off to the cooler for a deliberate knock-on.
Ayr took advantage with McCallum going under the posts, and they then had the opportunity to square it but Climo pushed a fairly easy penalty – by his lofty standards at any rate – to the left of the posts.
Eaglesham made an immediate impact after returning to the fray, securing a turnover on his own 22 which eventually led to McDoanld’s decisive try.
Ayr battled on but their discipline continually let them down, and they struggled to cope with Hawks’ physicality – which had clearly taken them by surprise.