Hawks Swoop Down On Undefeated Stewartry Under 16’s

Having been unbeaten since September, the Stewartry travelled up to Glasgow knowing that the Hawks were an outfit not to be underestimated. Playing in a much higher league with several Scotland age group squad members they were expected to be the hardest challenge of the season so far.

Glasgow Hawks 16 XV (71) vs (0) Stewartry U 16 XV 

And so it transpired. Eight minutes into the match the Blacks were reeling – already 19 points down and literally having had no possession other than to initiate three restart kickoffs. The Stewartry defensive line was quite well set, standing up on the back foot and pressing with a degree of eagerness. The problem was that Glasgow retained the ball with ease at the breakdown and were happy to play a multiphase game waiting for the holes to appear. These holes did open up as the Hawks runners often took several Stewartry tacklers to bring them down, leaving defenses undermanned and easily exploited by the pace of the Hawks’ wingers.

By the end of the first half the Hawks had extend this lead to 39 unanswered points. The Stewartry players continued to make a contest of the game and did enjoy some dominance in the scrum but naive kicking while trying to relieve the defensive pressure usually gifted opportunities for the Hawks’ best runners to come straight back at them. Ball in hand, the Stewartry runners made valiant efforts but were isolated in the tackle and turned over to easily.

At half time the spirit amongst the players remained extremely positive and combative, they were certainly not awed by events and were keen to tackle the second half.

The second half did indeed improve as the Stewartry went back to a more basic game plan, not spreading the ball too wide, running hard at the defense and ensuring that there were enough supporting players to secure the rucks. At this point Oscar Kapron was taking the ball up forcefully and sharing some of Fraser Forsyth’s load in this respect, while Fin Telfer, Zak Hunter, Luke Thompson and Paddy Traynor continued to hits rucks with regularity. Andrew Bowden and Patrick Quigley continued to press in defense but the really dominant presence here was Pacey Ho who was quickly out of the blocks in the press and also the first to make the cover tackle. Forsyth and Fraser Gibson were not far behind in the tackle count, but one or two halfhearted or tired tacklers always allowed the Hawks to find a way to the line.

Keeping the Hawks down to only one score for the first 15 minutes of the second half was a real achievement for a team that was under pressure and beginning to tire because of their efforts.

The Stewartry did come close to scoring twice, with a chip to the left-hand corner which led to a quick ruck from which Peter Young nearly squeezed through on the blind side and a hack and chase from Telfer who just lost the race to the ball ingoal by inches.

The last 20 minutes was a resumption of scoring by the Hawks who racked up another 5 tries.

Matches at this age level are meant to stop when there is a 50 point margin, but it is a credit to the players that, when given the option, they continued to battle on and ended with their heads held high.

This was a sobering match for the Stewartry players who, while being rightly proud of their record so far, now realize that they cannot rest on their laurels.

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