Hawks win a fitting tribute to stalwart Stephen Begley
Begley – who came off the bench the last time Hawks tasted victory at Millbrae in December 2005 – died of a suspected heart attack aged 42 whilst competing in a triathlon in Singapore on Saturday at around 1pm local time.
All but a handful of the current crop of Hawks players were still in primary school at the time of that last success in South Ayrshire, so will be unaware of the tremendous contribution the big second-row made at Old Anniesland from the club’s inception in 1997 through to his retirement in 2006 – but this was a victory appropriate in style to the way Begley played the game.
Head coach Fin Gillies put the players through a brutally physical session on Tuesday night and it seemed to have the desired effect. “I’m not a big coach for hammering boys at training,” he said, “probably because I wasn’t a big fan of it when I was a player, but this week I thought that maybe I was doing them a disservice because I wasn’t allowing them the opportunity to practice hitting hard. I can’t just expect them to show up here and flick a switch,” he explained. “I think we were genuinely the better team.”
Ayr head coach Calum Forrester concurred. “I said to our boys afterwards that Hawks had come here and beaten us at our own game. We just need to be a little bit more accurate in everything we do,” he said.
The home side grabbed the lead with a Grant Anderson try in nine minutes, but Hawks took a ten-point advantage into half-time thanks to a charge-down try scored by Kiran McDonald and a score on the left wing for Kyle Rowe.
With Hawks No 8 Jake Eaglesham in the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on, Ayr battled back through a Pete McCallum try, but hopes of rescuing a win were derailed by a 60-yard run-in from McDonald.