Glasgow Hawks 18 Melrose 26
“Old friends, winter companions, the old men
Lost in their overcoats, waiting for the sun
The sounds of the city sifting through trees
Settles like dust on the shoulders of the old friends”
There was a nostalgic air at Old Anniesland yesterday as a previous generation of Hawks had lunch and watched their successors against Melrose. In many ways this show of solidarity with the current generation at this time went a long way to take the edge off of what was the poorest performance of the season.
Jack Steele put Hawks ahead with a 10th minute penalty despite spending much of the opening exchanges on the defensive. (3-0)
Melrose were then unlucky as they battered away at the Hawk’s line. At one stage close to the 20 minute mark they were held at bay by the home side in site of the line no fewer than six times in one movement. It looked inevitable that they would turn this pressure in to 5 points but a touch of “white line fever” saw them knock on. Where Hawks did hold the advantage was in the pack, on their own ball Rose were forced to deal with the ball emerging from a retreating scrum.
Hawks suffered a blow in 24 minutes when prop Brendan Cullinane was sin-binned after they home defence infringed after Rose had made a threatening line-break.
Down to 14 men, the defensive effort was immense and on a dreich winter’s day energy sapping. Leone Nakawara was immense with ball in hand, always keenly going into the tackle looking for the off load. It seemed highly appropriate that he scored Hawks first try.
Hawks took a lineout in Rose’s 22 they recycled the ball with a gritty determination as the pack took on the visiting defence, then the ball came back to the Fijian lock who went over for the try. The difficult conversion was missed but Hawks had a firm hold on the lead even with number’s down. (8-0)
Hawks then had two opportunities which could have killed the match stone dead. Steele broke in the midfield kicking ahead, as he got up to the bouncing ball, he was well covered and he smartly clipped the ball with the outside of his right boot across to open space. Gathering the ball it was swiftly recycled and Nakawara looked to be over for a second try once more before the referee deemed him to have been held up over the line.
A further score seemed inevitable when Hadden McPherson burst clear only for the referee to call him back for a dodgy crossing decision.
In the last minute of the half Joe Helps narrowed the gap for Melrose with a penalty. (8-3)
The second half started poorly for Hawks as indiscipline saw the concession of a couple of swift penalties put Melrose in the lead before the 50th minute. (8-9)
A second sin-binning, this time for Andrew Linton, put Hawks firmly on the back foot. Melrose back line were putting the home side under constant pressure with centres Helps and Blair Hutchison offering a potent threat. As Hawks defending became increasingly fraught, so they were pressured into clearing the ball with kicks towards Melrose which saw Damian Hoyland and Fraser Thomson gain 50 plus metres with a couple of runs. The visitors got their reward for their perseverance. Following another line break, Melrose flanker Peter Eccles was over after he had been in close support with Helps adding the extras. (8-16)
Hawks woes were worsened, when the chief torturer, Helps put a 4th penalty over in 63 minutes. (8-19)
Scott Wight brought the gap back to 8 points a couple of minutes later, but Hawks were struggling to make any impact. (11-19)
Any hope Hawks had of gaining a Bonus point ended in the 76th minute, when Austin Lockington broke through the line putting the pass to Helps who was able to put the ball to Graham Dodds who went over under the posts. (11-28)
The match was deep in injury time when Hawks eventually battered their way into the visitors 22 and Gus Hamilton did well to get over for a consolation try which Dan Smart converted. (18-26)
The gap was too great as the gloom closed in and the match came to an end. The players were well aware that they had come up short, but the immediate reaction was to look to raising the game at Netherdale in a fortnight. Looking around the clubhouse the team were aware that in adversity they can develop the mentality to overcome the set back.
In adversity the support of old friends is welcome…
“Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a parkbench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy
Old friends, memory brushes the same years, silently sharing the same fears”
​​​Simon and Garfunkel.