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Hill start keeps up Hawks push

By on December 21, 2015

Selkirk 15, Glasgow Hawks 33 

The weather dominates life in the little stretch of the Green Acres the Lord gave the Scots, writes Alex Gordon. Over the last few weeks, he has sent ice, snow, flood and wind to remind us.

These are the conditions he provides our young athletes with to showcase the skills they hone during the year. They are given rain, hail, sleet and snow. Whilst the supporter can stay away the athlete cannot for fear he will let down his comrades.

As we left Edinburgh it seemed so much lighter, so much brighter, but that may have just been the joy of leaving Auld Reekie. The winter sun, lying low in the skyline and closing in on the horizon seemed to weep in the portentous wind which whipped across the border skies.

Arriving in Selkirk, a pretty little town, we drove down towards the river and a celestial presence closed the tin on the town as it was plunged into premature darkness all the while being beaten by the vicious wind which was in unforgiving mood. Against such a background only a superhuman effort can lift a game.

On a day like this you carried the rugby ball like it was your first born child and here lay the first lesson for the hosts.

Some slack passing from Selkirk when returning the kick-off saw the Souters knock on giving Hawks the scrum, playing to one of the visitor’s strongest suits in the opening exchange. The scrum was reset as Selkirk struggled to cope with Gary Strain, Jack Macfarlane and Brendan Cullinane.

When the ball emerged Selkirk conceded the penalty. Hawks set a third scrum 10 metres from the home line and just offset from the posts.

The ball came to the base and Selkirk stayed bound trying to avoid giving the penalty try , the back-row move saw Andy Hill over for the 5 points. Gregor Hunter, a welcome return from injury, added the conversion despite the vicious wind. (0-7)

As has happened frequently this year, Hawks discipline was missing on the restart and they quickly conceded a penalty which the Selkirk Scrum-half, Nathan Fowles put over for the 3 points. (3-7)

Even at this early stage, however, it was obvious Hawks had a greater understanding of the conditions but even more importantly, the personnel to take control of them.

Hawks kicking to touch went for short kicks ensuring possession rather than a more speculative hit to gain distance.

A punchy penalty saw the visitors take the ball via a catch and drive to Selkirk’s doorstep, Camped their  fro a few set-pieces the referees patience wore thin after 15 minutes and he awarded a penalty try which Hunter converted. (3-14)

This pattern for Hawks was only interrupted when Selkirk pursued their own kick offs. Hawks would absorb the home sides attack until the ball turned over and Hawks patiently worked their way back into Selkirk’s 22 and then worked at getting the score.

An example of this was in the four minutes before Hill went over for his second try, Hawks played four scrums and had two of these reset. Hunter was very unlucky to see his conversion come back off of the post but Hawks were now clearly dominant. (3-19)

The second half got underway and neither side seemed too sure as to what to do with the turn around in conditions. There was a brief period of kicking ping-pong but just before the 50 minute mark, the Hawks backs had a great run out of defence helping each other with short passes.

Captain Brendan McGroarty took the ball initially running down touch before cutting in for an excellent try and giving Hawks a Bonus Point and Hill added the conversion. (3-26)

There then followed a burst from Selkirk which had Hawks reeling on their heels.

In 51minutes a Selkirk scrum was struggling in their own half but the Soutars managed to makes some strong yards from the base. A few more penalties had Hawks infringing and the home side gaining some smart yardage.

Eventually a tap and go saw the ball go to Captain Ross Nixon who went over for the try, with Fowles converting Selkirk were in double figures and had given the crowd a glimpse of the side which had one the National League with ease last season. (10-26)

Hawks seemed taken aback and Selkirk had their tails up. Momentum in the match appeared to switch as a Hawks overthrow at a lineout allowed Selkirk to turn the screws on again. This time a deft passing move saw full back, Josh Welsh over for the try which Fowles missed. (15-26).

The home support were lifted by this burst but nerves took hold and a couple of good passing moves were spoiled as Selkirk tried to force  the issue trying to put the ball wider than it had to and seeing passes miss players which they were intended for.

In the last 10 minutes Hawks came back into their own and killed the match once and for all. Again the pack was dominant as replacement prop, Grant Stewart went over for the fifth try which Jack Steele converted in the ugliest fashion. (15-33)

The final whistle blew and knowing eyes traced the blackened and windy sky awaiting the arrival of Voldemort.

In a way, for Selkirk, it had happened, the result closed the last mathematical hope for staying up and all in the leagues will wish them well as they have not had fortune on the field but they have played the season with an outstanding spirit.

For Hawks, phones quickly went in search of other results in the faint hope that a top four finish was still achievable. Just…

Selkirk – Tries:  Nixon 56, Welsh 63;  Con: Fowles 56; Pen: Fowles 6.  Hawks –  Tries:  Hill 4, 30; Penalty 15, McGroarty 48, Stewart 76; Con: Hunter 4, 15, 48, Steele 76.

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