To Laigh Bent, home of Hamilton Rugby Club for a National League fixture between the home club, who finished in their highest ever league position last season, and Glasgow Hawks, relegated from the top flight and suffering the loss of half a dozen stars who flew down the coast to Ayr for Premier Rugby.
The ground is tucked away and not easy to find, but the welcome is cordial. Entrance to the ground is through the bar, where some spectators duly tarried. As kick-off approached 100 gentlemen on the terracing formed an old fashioned looking rugby crowd, then as the whistle blew the female half of the crowd emerged from the bar to take their places along the touchline and give it a more contemporary feel. We were warmly welcomed by the PA announcer, but his duties seemed to end with kick off with no scoring updates.
Hamilton have big Dale Lyon leading an extensive coaching team these days, with an impressive number of youngsters involved in mini & midi rugby, and in consequence are bringing through a steady stream of promising players to their 1st XV. It’s no closed shop however – a solid citizen by the name of Gaston Ibarburu has arrived from Uruguay to bring international propping experience to the front row. Stephen Dreyer, formerly of Dundee High & Heriots is here as well, and was in direct opposition to another medic George Oommen, on the open side for Hawks.
Geo is one of the old hands of the team now, together with Rory McKay & Mike Adamson, back from London Scottish to take up the DO responsibilities at Hawks. Whisper it not in Ayr, but a new generation is also starting to fly – three impressive 18 year olds in the ranks today – Sean Yacoubian at 9, Chris Barnes at 3, and a highly impressive Peter Redmayne at 6, who looks like he might have a Robert Harley engine on him. With old faces Jimmy Sinclair & Scotty Inglis bringing experience on the touchline you sense Jamie Dempsey’s men will soon return to the top flight, for the good of Scottish Rugby.
So to the game. Hawks spread the ball wide quickly through Adamson’s fast hands, punched holes through David Milne up the centre, or sought out the touchline with Michael Martin’s boot, where they seemed to have dominance from McKay, Rauridh Wilson and Captain Ross Miller. Hamilton, rumbled & rucked through their forwards, propelled on by sniping runs of Stevie Turnbull at 9, and the mighty boot of Owen McLeish at 10. Tom Steven & Tony Herron ran in tries wide for Hawks at the start & end of the 1st half with Rory McKay crashing over from 5 yards in between. Owen McLeish replied with an opportunist score for Hamilton and Hawks led 19:13 at the break. An interception try from Mike Adamson, and another searing run from Tom Steven gave Hawks a big lead and the bonus point, before Hamilton scored two late forward tries to give the final score a more respectable look of Hamilton 25 -37 Hawks.
Hero Today: Hawks Physio spent a good 40 minutes manipulating Ross Miller’s back after he retired injured after half an hour. These girls work hard with great expertise to keep our athletes active.
Villain Today: Andy Hill. Formerly of Hawks, spent 80 minutes determined to remind the referee there was ‘more than one team in this game, sir’. A slight suspicion of carrying a little extra weight was confirmed when he cheekily dropped his shorts in a moonie gesture in retort to Jimmy Sinclair’s touchline banter.
Spectator Experience: Maybe if Camelot had won on the big screen at half time it would have scored higher, but on the day Strictly returned to our screens it merited no more than 6/10