Hawks Feathers Ruffled!
Dumfries Saints 21 Glasgow Hawks 29
Premier 1 leaders Glasgow Hawks paid Saints the compliment of fielding their first choice side for this Premier Cup first round game and there were plenty who worried for the fate of the Saints! Saints started brightly competing well at the break downs and hawks showed their intent by taking any chance to spin the ball out wide where their sharp back three threatened.
With only 7 minutes on the clock Hawks pressure opened up the gaps and wing forward Grant Strang raced in to score. Saints however went straight back on the attack with scrum half Sylvain Diez and captain Kenny Brown leading the way with a break that almost put Rory Steele in. The home side had to make do with a penalty and showed their intent by kicking for the corner and going for the try rather than three points.
Hawks cleared and when their number 8 Ross Miller broke from the next scrum and set off a 60 yard break for a try they paid the price, it was converted. With 20 minutes of the kick off Hawks had got another try as Saints paid the price for not putting kicks into touch and allowing Hawks to run it back at them. 9-0 nil down after the first quarter, things looked bleak.
To make matters worse Saints lost centre Rory Steele to injury however it meant another opportunity for youngster Chris Auld to show his potential which he took with an excellent 60 minutes in defence and attack. Saints enjoyed their best spell to date with plenty of pressure and retained possession through some excellent work by the pack with Paddy Coupar and Stuart Clanachan prominent. Just when it looked like they lacked to cutting edge to break Hawks defence Sam Hiddleston burst onto a ball and through a gap to score, brother Tom converted.
As if stung by this Hawks gobbled up a spilled ball at the kick off and went in for a try. Saints were stunned by this reverse and within minutes Hawks ran a wide move from a line out and chipped over the defence for another score. To Saints credit they once again tightened up their defence and went on the attack.
Ali Mather was winning line out ball, Stuart Kennedy was working hard across the park and the front row of Gareth McCall, Bootsie MacMillan and John Sa were holding the scrum together. They got their reward when Sylvain Diez made a snipping break, Paddy Coupar took it on before releasing Sam Hiddleston into the gap for his second try. Brother Tom converted and at half time it was 29-14.
There were fears that Saints would run out of steam in the second half as the superior fitness of Premier 1 opponents took its toll. It could not have been further from the truth as they dominated the third quarter piling on the pressure. Sam Hiddleston, Chris Auld and Stuart Clanachan all made telling breaks. Wingers Johnnie Sloan and Kenny Henderson also got in on the act down the flanks.
With the clock showing only 15 minutes left Saints got their reward, Tom Hiddleston made a break deep into the Hawks 22, when the ball was recycled brother Sam dived over to complete his hat trick! Tom Converted to bring the gap back to 8 points.
Despite their best efforts Saints couldn’t score again, Graeme Gemmell who gave an excellent display in his first start at standoff made a telling break but was just too fast for his support. The final whistle came with Saints beaten but justly proud of their display. This was a fine effort from all 20 players and if they continue in this vein they will climb up Premier 3!
Team; G McCall, R MacMillan, J Sa, S Kennedy, A Mather, K Brown, P Coupar, S Clanachan, S Diez, G Gemmell, J Sloan, S Hiddleston, R Steele, K Henderson, T Hiddleston. Subs all used; S Graham, C Greer, R Henderson, V Satala, C Auld.
Johnnie Sloan looks for a gap
Sam Hiddleston finds a gap
Sylvain Diez leads the attack