On the back of some ferocious forward play, Hawks overcame a spirited Heriot’s to win a scrappy Old Anniesland encounter, and maintain third place in the battle for the end-of-season play-offs.
The match came nowhere close to the quality on display at Scotstoun on Friday night, since both sides were guilty of not protecting the ball when they had it, but there were occasional flashes of good rugby amidst the knock-ons and mistakes.
The home pack laid the ground-work for Kerr Gossman’s 11th try of the season, touched down after eight minutes. After a series of close-range drives, the ball was moved wide for Gossman, pictured, to touch down in the corner. Josh Henderson landed the touchline conversion.
Heriot’s cut the deficit with a penalty three minutes later, before a second penalty, both converted by Alex Hagart, made it a one-point game at 7-6 at the midway point of the first half.
Henderson then kicked a penalty to make it 10-6, but, right on half-time Edinburgh professional Junior Roselea put Charlie Simpson over in the corner for an unconverted try to give the visitors an 11-10 half-time lead.
Hagart and Hagen Schulte, who took over kicking duties for Hawks after Henderson was subbed off at half-time, exchanged penalties, before Schulte’s second successful penalty, in 58 minutes, put Hawks back in front, 16-14. The Hagart penalty was awarded after Steven Findlay of Hawks picked up a yellow for not retreating ten metres at a quickly-taken Heriot’s penalty.
The Canadian, whose Old Anniesland career has been bedevilled by injuries this season, then stretched his side’s lead with another penalty in 68 minutes – awarded after some ruck misbehaviour, which earned Heriot’s Clarke Smith a yellow card, and, with the home pack on top, Hawks made their extra man pay, without adding to the score.
Heriot’s staged a grandstand finish, but solid and determined Hawks tackling kept them at bay, for the Glasgow side to score a narrow but merited victory.
An “absolutely relieved” Finn Gillies, the Hawks coach, therefore seems set to enjoy his Christmas lunch more than a clearly disappointed Phil Smith of Heriot’s.
Hawks have all but sealed their play-off place, and Heriot’s are now definitely in a battle for the fourth and final place.