For two teams stuck in the lower reaches of the Premiership the game was all about winning and the harvest of precious points.
There was tension in the final outcome, Hawks leaving it to the last ten minutes to ease ahead but, otherwise, it was a grim, ill-disciplined affair on a rain-soaked pitch with a slippery ball.
“That was far from an advert for Premiership rugby,” said Hawks coach Finlay Gillies. “It won’t have people clamouring to come and watch clubs play. It wasn’t what I would do as a coach usually but when you’ve got to win you’ve got to win, and that’s what we did. We got the job done.”
Two penalties by stand-off Vincent Hart added to tries by scrum-half Robbie Davis and winger Robbie Chalmers, against a try by Hawks flanker Matt Smith, put Accies into a position of strength by half-time but Hawks didn’t help themselves with two yellow cards for centre Mark New and, minutes later, hooker Paul Cairncross.
Accies went 5-18 up early in the second 40 and then Hawks decided to use their scrum like a steamroller, choosing reset after reset, grinding out penalty after penalty and getting both home props – Cole Imrie and James Pearse – sin-binned as the referee went round behind the posts to award the penalty try.
Smith went over the line for his second try for Hawks and it was suddenly a one-point game. It wasn’t immediately obvious but the static scrum episode had drained all the energy from Accies and was key in creating the final penalty opportunity when an exhausted blue and white body didn’t roll away quickly enough at a ruck inside the home 22. Scotland under-20 stand-off Ross Thompson steadied himself and knocked it over to grab the points and leave Accies the only team in the league yet to win.
Accies coach Derek O’Riardon said: “It comes down to decisions. We came into the second half in a dominant position, we go 18-5 up – it needed to be about playing territory and putting the pressure on them and we didn’t do it. We tried to keep ball and play from everywhere and we paid the price.
“It was unfamiliar territory for us, the first time we have gone into a second half this season in a winning position, and we maybe thought we’d done enough but the reality is that you’ve got to keep going until you have killed them off. You have to develop that mind-set. We were too nice in that second half.”