Saturday, 14 February 2015

Glasgow Hawks 22 Ayr 13

Ayr went to Old Anniesland looking to progress to the semi-finals of the BT Cup but left disappointed after Glasgow Hawks came away with the win.

The visitors had the better start, nullifying the threat of Hawks' rampaging centre Brendan McGroarty and mopping up the home team's early errors.  These errors led to penalties and Ayr stand-off Ross Curle stepped up to the tee with a few minutes on the clock and duly took the three points.  0-3.

Things took a turn for the worse for Ayr though when winger Kerr Gossman had to helped from the field with a lower limb injury.  Soon after, Hawks stand-off Jack Steele evened things up.  3-3.

Hawks pressed on thanks to some strong running from winger Paul Ramsay, but he was hauled down by Ayr scrum-half David Armstrong.  Moments later, the visitors were penalised for not rolling away and Steele again kicked the penalty, which, despite an odd-looking strike, bobbled over the crossbar.  6-3.

Curle had the chance to draw level when Hawks were off-side.  6-6.

Curle was having a good day kicking from hand, the line-out was steady in the early stages, Gossman's replacement Danny McCluskey was busy dragging down Hawks' attackers and Armstrong was leaping superbly under the high ball, but the match wasn't igniting like previous encounters between these two west coast rivals.

Curle had another kickable penalty but it was wide.  Second rows Rob McAlpine and Scott Sutherland were trying to blast their way into Hawks' half, but neither could get anywhere.  Hawks looked the more threatening with ball in hand and would have been away for a try were it not for the attentions of Ayr centre Robbie Fergusson, McAlpine and McCluskey.

The home side did think they had slid over for a try in the corner but it was disallowed.  Ayr were out of danger, but not for long.  Hawks hooker Jack Macfarlane put in a late tackle on Armstrong and the scrum-half retaliated.  The referee sin-binned Macfarlane but reached for the red card for Armstrong.

The match hit a frantic patch after that, with Hawks flanker Stephen Leckey almost making it to the try-line before McCluskey got to him.  Ayr turned over and cleared only for Hawks to take the quick line-out and then knock-on a few phases later.

Scrums, line-outs, penalties, missed kicks and turnovers all followed, with Ayr hooker Fergus Scott doing some good poaching.  It looked like Ayr were in the ascendency, especially after a great break from prop Fraser Watt, but Hawks regained possession before Ayr gave away a penalty.  Scrum-half Paddy Boyer scurried away from the ensuing line-out and nabbed Hawks' first try.  Steele missed the conversion, possibly distracted by Ayr winger Richard Dalgleish charging at him.  11-6.

Ayr tried to hit back through Sutherland, prop Stuart Fenwick, replacement scrum-half Murray McConnell and captain Dean Kelbrick, but they could do nothing before half-time.

Kelbrick and Curle led the way at the resumption, but despite trying to move the ball swiftly, it all looked a bit laboured from the Millbrae men.

Hawks' plan was clearly just to nest in Ayr's half for as long as possible and it worked, McGroarty and full-back Andrew Fleming pushing things ever closer to the try-line.  McConnell and Dalgleish did their best to stop them but Ayr were pinged for off-side and a solid Hawks line-out let replacement Brendan Cullinane burrow over for a try.  Steele missed the conversion.  16-6.

Ayr weren't for throwing in the towel just yet.  Blindside flanker Graham Fisken had been looking lively all afternoon and soon got a chance to stretch his legs, cantering off into Hawks' half, but his pass reached opposition hands.  After a good scrum from Ayr, openside flanker Andrew Dunlop decided to follow Fisken's example and shot off too.  Replacement hooker, and Glasgow Warrior, Dougie Hall was next to have a go before Fergusson chipped on, but the Hawks defender carried the ball into touch before the young centre could get to it.

A good take by Sutherland at the line-out allowed Ayr to drive on and Fenwick emerged from the pile of bodies on the line to claim the try.  Curle easily converted.  16-13.

Hawks were back in attack mode pretty quickly, but McAlpine and replacement Peter McCallum were on hand to keep them at bay.  Curle ripped the ball from a Hawks forward and safely got it into the hands of Sutherland but a few phases later and Ayr knocked on.

Hawks had their fair share of handling errors too, but Ayr were beginning to struggle at the scrum and Hawks got themselves a penalty, which, bizarrely, they decided to kick straight into the hands of McCallum, who gladly took it and charged away.  Sadly, another knock on brought that move to a halt.

Ayr were still stuck in their own half and gave away another penalty for holding on, which Steele slotted between the uprights.  19-13.

An exchange of line-outs and Ayr were again infringing.  Steele missed the penalty.

Ayr had one last hurrah with a huge shove at a Hawks scrum but they couldn't capitalise on it and were pinged a final time.  Steele got this one.  22-13.

Time was up and Ayr's BT Cup campaign was over for another year.

Final score: Glasgow Hawks 22 Ayr 13.

- Elena Hogarth.

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