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National

Glasgow Hawks v Hamilton

Despite putting on one of the best first-half performance displays of the season - holding the hosts at 13 points apiece after 40 minutes - Hamilton were eventually well beaten by a clinical and determined Glasgow Hawks side Anniesland on Friday evening.   With Hamilton desperate for a win in order to evade relegation and Hawks aiming to secure a big score - in case ‘points difference’ plays a part at the end of the season  - neither team was prepared to take their foot off the pedal.

Hamilton secured the first points of the match on 15 mins with a kick by Owen McLeish when Hawks were penalised for holding on to the ball.  Mike Adamson evened the score after another 5 min only to see Hamilton pull ahead again after a further 5 minutes.  Hawks’ prop Steven Findlay was yellow carded near the posts allowing McLeish to secure the 3 points.  Unfortunately Hamilton were unable to take advantage of the extra man and Hawks’ James Gormley burst through the Hamilton defence for the first try of the match.  Adamson’s conversion put Hawks 10-6 ahead.

After the restart Hamilton appeared to compose themselves.  Following several phases of well structured play which appeared to involve every Hamilton player, the Bulls found themselves deep in opposition territory.  McLeish fired a long pass out to Craig Inglis who managed to draw the defence before off-loading to Andy Hill.  Hill took the ball into contact and then popped the ball up to Chris McLaughlin.  In a single movement McLaughlin  passed inside to winger Davide Lopez.  Lopez stepped the Hawks’ defence and dived over the line for Hamilton’s first try.  McLeish converted, giving Hamilton a 10-13 lead.  Unfortunately, with seconds till half-time, Scott Whitelaw received a yellow card for a late tackle and gave Adamson a relatively straightforward kick at goal to even the half-time score at 13-13.

Although there were many positives for the Hamilton support to take from the Bulls’ first half performance, the realisation that they would start the second period with only 14 men was serious cause for concern.   Within the first minute their worst fears were realised.  Hawks winger Tony Herron gathered a pass just after the restart, sliced through the Hamilton defence and, on reaching the 22 , offloaded to Tom Preece who carried over for what was to be the first of eight second-half touchdowns for the hosts.  With the conversion by Adamson and 2 minutes of the second half gone, Hawks led 20-13.

For the next 15 minutes Hamilton appeared unable to find an answer to the relentless pressure put on them by Hawks.  After another 4 converted tries which went without answer, and the score standing at 46-13, Hamilton fought their way back into the match.  From a scrum 10 metres out, Hill took the ball into contact and set up a ruck.  After 4 more phases, Hamilton were awarded a penalty which was taken quickly by Stevie Turnbull.  Another couple of phases and captain Richard Maxton sent the ball wide to Inglis who immediately passed to Whitelaw.  The young centre carried over the line to secure the 5 points.  With McLeish’s kick taking the score to 46-20 there was belief that Hamilton had the capacity to score tries and perhaps secure a much needed bonus point.

However, Hawks had their own target to reach and during the next 15 minutes managed to cross the Hamilton line another 3 times before Hamilton could make any dent on the outcome.   With the score standing at 67-20, Turnbull again took a quick tap penalty which put Hawks on the back foot.  The ball was taken into contact and quickly recycled by Hamilton’s forwards.  McLeish received the ball from the back of the ruck and passed to Hill.  The Hamilton number 8 carried forward and with a one handed flick of the ball released Lopez who sprinted the final 22 metres to the line.  McLeish converted with a quick drop-kick, hoping to give Hamilton the opportunity for a fourth try for the bonus point.  Unfortunately it was to be the last score of the evening, leaving the final tally at 67-27.

The Bulls have a couple of weeks off due to the six nations and will return to action at Laigh Bent  against Watsonians on 23 March.   Whilst Hamilton’s future will rely on the outcome of fixtures elsewhere, a win against the Edinburgh side is essential if Hamilton are to have any hope of playing in the RBS National League next season.