Glasgow Hawks 32 pts (t 4, c 3, p g 2) v Currie Chieftains 37 pts (t 5, c 3, p g 2)
Not far from their former home, Hawks’ move to the impressive sports facility at Balgray, appears to fit the pioneering spirit of an influential club, who are resolute that they will remain at the top of Scottish rugby. With a few minor changes and some TLC on the main pitch, their new home could become the envy of many ambitious clubs.
In recent times, Hawks have had a number of setbacks, but the enthusiasm and determination of their coaching staff and players, certainly reminded the Chieftains that commitment and concentration are required for the full eighty minutes of a match, as Hawks nibbled away at the visitors’ impressive first half lead to cause palpitations amongst supporters, especially during the final ten minutes of the game.
From the kick-off Currie had the home team on the back foot. Thomas Gordon charged down a Hawks clearance and panic ensued. Gregor Hunter had no problem with a shot at goal when Hawks were penalised for holding on; a couple of minutes later he doubled the score for another offence as Currie continued to put their hosts under pressure. The Chieftains’ backs looked sharp with Matthew Hooks and Steven Hamilton making inroads down the right touchline. Hawks attempted to clear, but it was a poor effort and their line remained under threat. The lineout misfunction was gratefully snapped up by Thomas Gordon who ran through or around several tacklers before scoring under the posts. Gregor Hunter converted this try and the next, shortly after, following a scintillating Matthew Hooks run to the goal line; 20 points in twenty minutes was somewhat better than the most optimistic Currie supporter was expecting after the festive layoff.
The Chieftains’ euphoria eventually came to an end with a series of sloppy errors that put their own line under pressure. Stand-off Liam Brims slotted a couple of penalty goals and landed an excellent touchline conversion after hooker, Angus Fraser rampaged 20 metres deep into the Currie 22, and Mark New side-stepped his way to the try line. During the attack, referee Sutherland spotted a professional foul, and Steven Hamilton spent the next ten minutes in the sinbin. It was all non-stop action and Hawks were firmly back in the match, although during the remaining ten minutes before the break, Currie once again exerted control. A powerful run and try from Robbie Nelson extended the lead, and this was followed with a Vince Wright try as the pack drove over from a penalty lineout; Gregor Hunter could only convert one of them.
Halftime score – Hawks 13 pts, Currie Chieftains 32 pts.
With the try bonus point in the bag, and a fifth unconverted try scored by Ben Robbins early in the second half, it looked to be a question of how many points the visitors would score, but apart from a couple of periods of classic running rugby, the spark and edge slowly disappeared from their performance. Hawks added some aggression to their armoury and were gaining confidence at every breakdown. Some niggles started to appear as the visitors were being put under the cosh and knocked backwards; the referee intervened, and both teams lost a player to the sinbin. Although they tackled well, Currie were now looking a little ragged, their penalty count was on the rise, and some poor decisions were proving costly; territory and possession were moving in Hawks’ direction.
Hawks made a couple of positional changes and the introduction of a new scrumhalf certainly added a bit of spice to the contest. Kaleem Baretto looked to have sent James Couper over in the corner, but a foot in touch ruled out the score. The Hawks momentum continued, and following several phases, it was not long before the recycled ball was slipped to Garry Adams for an unconverted corner flag try. Currie had the occasional bright patch, but it generally petered out in the opposition 22, and the threat was cleared with some fine positional kicking from which Hawks could continue to harass and frustrate a Currie team that was beginning to tire and make mistakes. Lively scrumhalf, Kaleem Baretto nipped in for Hawks’ third try which Liam Brims converted; the Chieftains score look vulnerable.
With a try bonus point in sight the spirited Hawks pack were into everything, and they were creaming off the 50/50 chances. The visitors could not get out of their 22; Hawks had them by the throat. Following several drives close to the line, that the Currie forwards did well to defend, it was no surprise when a classic rolling maul finally
crashed over for an Angus Fraser try that Liam Brims converted to take his team just one score away from the opposition. The few remaining minutes were certainly nervous ones, but Currie regrouped and finished by pressing at the other end. As the light started to rapidly dim, the referee brought the exciting contest to an end. Perhaps the combination of early dominance and a significant lead, plus a four-week layoff and a strength-sapping heavy pitch had something to do with the Chieftains’ below par second half performance, but it was a reminder that matches are decided over eighty minutes, and not when you are two or three scores in the lead with plenty of time remaining.
This was never going to be an easy match and overall the team put in a pretty good shift, particularly in the first half. Vince Wright, Fergus Scott and his props went well in the pack, and Thomas Gordon produced his usual busy routine. Gregor Hunter’s handling and kicking were top drawer, and Matthew Hooks showed several turns of speed that left the opposition in his wake. The squad will have to bring their ‘A’ game to Malleny Park next weekend when Heriot’s are the visitors. The north Edinburgh team have been on a winning streak recently, and they will be smarting from the one-point defeat that the Chieftains inflicted on them at Goldenacre earlier in the season. Kick off is at 2.30 pm; it should be quite a match. To allow plenty of time to get to the pitch, clubhouse lunches will be served at 12.45 pm. I.J.S, 6.1.19.
Currie Chieftains team v Glasgow Hawks – 5.1.19.
15 Jamie Forbes, 14 Ben Robbins, 13 Matthew Hooks, 12 Robbie Nelson, 11 Steven Hamilton, 10 Gregor Hunter,
9 Roan Frostwick, 8 Tevita Tameilau, 7 Thomas Gordon, 6 Scott McGinley, 5 Marc Kelly, 4 Vince Wright,
3 Matias Argiro, 2 Fergus Scott, 1 A P McWilliam.
16 Graeme Carson, 17 Fraser Watt 18 Reece Patterson 19 Rhys Davies, 20 Chris Davies.
Photography (c) Ian Gidney