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Home > News > Alex Gordon reports from Old Anniesland
Your News Alex Gordon reports from Old Anniesland

Alex Gordon reports from Old Anniesland

The final match in the group stage of the Scottish Cup saw the visit of Dumfries Saints to Old Anniesland. The men from Park Farm arrived with a depleted squad ravaged by injury and illness and when the sides took to the pitch Saints could only field a bench with two players. Whilst, it is fair to say the format of the cup is unloved, making the possibility of a "giant-killing" less likely and undermining as it does the "romance" which makes cup rugby interesting, no side in this group has given less than 100%.

Hawks started the match at high tempo, spinning the ball wide from the start. However, whilst there was a real ambition in the side there was also a nervousness which became apparent in a series of unforced errors. This did as much to relieve the pressure on the Saints defence as did their own tackling. Indeed, Hawks conspired to knock-on in attacking positions 5 times in the opening 10 minutes.

The scrums gave the Saints the chance to show that they weren't here to make up numbers putting pressure on the hosts in the set-piece. The were combative in close quarters reflecting the spirit of Saint Michael, the warrior Saint from whom they take their name. This fighting spirit was typified by a bone shuddering tackle in this early period by winger Villi Satala on Hawks centre Mike Martin which seemed to make the Jimmie Ireland Stand shake.

If things weren't working for Hawks in open play, the lineout was poorer, with Saints competing fiercely and taking a couple against the throw easily.

All this said whilst Dumfries had a much of the ball it was almost all in their own half of the pitch as Hawks backs met any incursion with ease and keeping Saints pinned down with some very clever tactical kicking. As hard short yards were won with grind by the visitors, Hawks stopped any momentum developing by use of a deep kick well behind the backline. Given the territorial advantage Hawks had in the first half it was perplexing, to say the least, as to why they had developed the "yips" when passing.

Hawks first real chance came in 36 minutes, when a catch and drive was held up over the line. The attacking scrum set 5 metres and Hawks put a shove on allowing skipper Ross Miller to take the ball from the base and dart over for the opening try. With Mike Adamson adding the extras the stalemate was broken and Hawks took the lead in at half-time. (7-0)

Hawks started the second period at the same high tempo as the first, except this time to much greater effect. In 43 minutes Paddy Bowyer and Grant Strang broke from the visitors 10 metre line exchanging a couple of passes allowing Strang to go over for the try. As Adamson added the kick the engine was ticking over nicely. (14-0)

Saints made a mess of the re-start not making the 10 metre line and Hawks pounced on the error. Putting Dumfries under pressure they forced an interception and Tom Steven angled a run and romped home from outside the 22 to notch up the third try. (19-0)

It was evident that this had rattled Saints, the next kick off was long, allowing Hawks to put the ball wide and running at Dumfiries. Hawks were quickly back in the visitors 22, now very much the predators searching out weaknesses in their prey. Saints were getting ever more desperate as they tried to hold back the wall of red jerseys who seemed to push forward at will. This desperation was exemplified when Satala put in a high tackle which not only seemed dangerous but also reckless in it's execution. The visiting wing must have counted himself lucky when all he received was a stern shiricking from referee Mhairi Hall rather than the flash of yellow the crowd expected.

The bonus point came in 66 minutes when Miller put his stamp on the game for a second time. Taking a quick tap penalty he passed to stand-off Andy White who put the ball back from a rackle. Miller, now in support, rampaged in from 5 metres. Mike Adamson converted easily and the BP was secure. (26-0)

The win was looming, but Hawks were in no mood to show mercy. The lineout, whch had been problematic early in the match, was now functioning perfectly. A superbly executed catch and drive saw John Lohoar go over for number five with the aid of the pack, Adamson stroked a lovely kick to rub in their advantage. (33-0)

Another disastrous kick off put the visitors under more pressure, the tale of the half reflected by the startling fact that Dumfries only enter the home 22 once in the second half, even then only advancing 1 metre and never threatening Hawks line. A break in the middle of the park by Martin supported by Tom Preece put an a pass to Steven on an angled run. Faced with a couple of saints defenders, Steven deftly kicked ahead chasing the ball himself, toucjhing down with apparent ease. The ever reliable adamson took the score to 40. (40-0)

The final score came from White, who capped a good day at the office with a seventh try as people checked their watches for full-time, with 47 points scored and a defence that only saw the visitors enter the 22 twice all match, Hawks can be satisfied that they have come through this cup group without distracting them from the league challenge. Job done!

This article was posted on 13-Jan-2013, 09:40 by Hugh Barrow.

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