Sunday, 10 February 2013

Glasgow Hawks 10 Ayr 15

Ayr withstood a ferocious Hawks team to win the RBS West Regional Cup, progress to the Scottish Cup quarter-finals and defend the Bill McLaren Shiel for the thirteenth time.  It was a freezing cold lunchtime encounter at Old Anniesland, but things got heated on the pitch.

Hawks did not start well, with their kick-off going straight out.  They swiftly gathered themselves together though, and piled the pressure on Ayr, not only at the set-pieces, but with some tremendously determined phases of attack. 

The home side, cheered on by a hugely excited crowd, camped out in Ayr's half and at eight minutes, scrum-half Haddon McPherson was bundled over by his forwards for the match's first try.  Full-back James Gormley converted.  7-0.

Ayr couldn't seem to get into the match, any attempts to stamp their authority quickly smothered by Hawks.  Some of Hawks' men were perhaps a bit too fired up, with Ayr winger Cammy Taylor taken out of the air by his opposite number Tom Steven.  He was summarily sent to the sin bin by referee Gary Gordon.

It didn't do any lasting damage to Taylor, who went on to have an excellent game.  His fellow winger Craig Gossman was under the cosh from his former team-mates (and the crowd) from the get-go, but still managed a few of his trademark scything runs.  All the attention on Gossman left Taylor to get on with some more-than-solid attack and defence. 

McPherson continued to be a thorn in Ayr's side with a terrific dash up the wing, which was only snuffed out when he was tracked down by Ayr captain Calum Forrester.  Ayr began to force their way into the match, with some determined play from former Hawks men Dean Kelbrick and Peter Jericevich.

The presence of so many former Hawks players - and a revved-up Hawks' determination to get their hands on the Cup - was perhaps the reason things got so heated, with tempers flaring throughout the encounter.  Referee Gordon had to give players from both sides several talkings-to.

Ayr didn't get on the scoreboard until five minutes before half-time, when soon after lock Scott Sutherland had been held up over the line, full-back Grant Anderson crossed the whitewash.  Jericevich missed the conversion.  7-5.

A few minutes later, fly-half Ross Curle dived over for Ayr's second try after several phases of attack.  Jericevich got the extras.  7-12.

The second half was just as intense, with the addition of Zimbabwean international prop Denford Mutamangira really helping Ayr's cause.  Hawks' indiscipline also bolstered Ayr, with winger Jono Wright yellow-carded just two minutes into proceedings.

It looked like Ayr would quickly grab another try, but Anderson's pass was deemed forward.  The visitors gained three more points, however, when they were awarded a penalty in a kickable position at forty-seven minutes.  Jericevich duly complied.  7-15.

Hawks came back at them, replacement hooker Callum Kerr leading the way with some bullocking runs.  At fifty minutes, they also got a penalty, kicked by Gormley.  10-15

From then on, Hawks were chasing a converted try, but never got it.  They managed to stop Gossman from scoring in the corner, but were unlucky to lose McPherson in the process, the lively scrum-half carried off injured in the final quarter.  Further misery was piled on when second row Ruaridh Wilson became the third Hawks player to receive a yellow card.

They stayed strong in the set-piece, however, and full-back Gormley made a great break which unfortunately came to nothing.  Curle also got in on the act, but his run ended in another round of handbags.  Hawks got another kick at goal, but Gormley couldn't make it.

Ayr were under extreme pressure for the rest of the game, but dealt with it well.  The crowd seemed to be losing its head, but Jericevich and Sutherland, the little and large of the Ayr team, showed particular calm to clear their lines and steal line-out ball respectively.

Hawks had one last go, but they were pinged for off-side at an attempted cross-field kick.  After what seemed like for ever, the referee blew the whistle and both sides put down their handbags and warmly acknowledged each other.

Denford Mutamangira was man-of-the-match, with the final score Glasgow Hawks 10 Ayr 15.

- Elena Hogarth

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