Hawks grounded by leaders Melrose

Melrose 35, Glasgow Hawks 15

Monday, 7th November 2016, 11:25 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:38 pm
Jason Baggott delivers a pass for Melrose (picture by Douglas Hardie)

Glasgow Hawks have frequently looked like the high fliers in the BT Premiership – but against the league leaders, Melrose, the Anniesland men had a bumpy return to earth in last weekend’s 11th round match at the Greenyards.

In a bizarre game, Hawks looked unstoppable in the opening quarter but, after going behind 0-15, Melrose showed why they are the current table toppers by scoring 35 unanswered points in to secure a bonus victory.

“Hawks were really good for the first 20 minutes,” said Melrose coach Rob Chrystie. “They kept the ball well and caused us a lot of bother but our boys knew what they had to do. They were patient and they were mature about it.

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“It’s good to get to the 11th game in the league in this position,” he added. “We can recharge the batteries a bit before we resume the Premiership in December.”

Hawks have been the greatest beneficiaries of the professional draft this season by a long shot but, at the weekend, they had to make do with only one hand-out from Scotstoun, winger Junior Bulumakau.

In the event, the FIjian made little contribution and, moreover, was one of five Hawks’ players forced to retire through injury, with the high number of wounded troops undoubtedly affecting the Glasgow side’s performance.

In contrast Melrose enjoyed the presence of two full-time Edinburgh players, Nick Beavon and Lewis Carmichael, in addition to the jointly sponsored Jason Baggott. On the injury front, they had only two casualties, scrum half Murdo McAndrew and his replacement Richard Taylor.

With Bruce Colvine sidelined and McAndrew now on the injury list, Melrose would seem to have a crisis at scrum half. But such was the quality of Baggott’s performance in the number nine position, after the South African stepped in from stand-off to scrum half following McAndrew’s injury, that Melrose should have no worries.

Baggott’s service, his tactical awareness and his defence round the scrum all added up to a polished performance that poses the question of a permanent move to the number nine slot. After all, Melrose have a quality stand-off in Craig Jackson and a number of options at centre.

Baggott, who converted all of his side’s tries, was not the only Melrose player to excel. Replacement Nyall Godsmark looked back to form, Fraser Thomson and Austen Lockington showed pacy and clever running skills, while in the pack, seven of the eight deserved plaudits.

The one exception was James Head, who earned himself a red card for elbowing his opposite number Andy Redmayne in the skull, in full view of the visiting Irish referee Sean Gallagher.

Few would have betted on an eventual 20-point margin of victory in the first quarter when Hawks monopolised possession to take a 15-0 lead. But tries either side of the break by hooker Russell Anderson, and then touchdowns from Baggott, back row Ruaridh Knott, and wing Lockington, gave Melrose a sumptuous win and with it maximum championship points.