Rugby Union: Hawks' smooth Velvet

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The Independent Online
Kelso 14

Glasgow Hawks 36

WHILE football's Old Firm were settling their latest dispute yesterday, the New Firm of Scottish rugby were busy winning silverware of their own at Murrayfield. The embryonic Glasgow Hawks ended their momentous debut season as Scottish Cup winners.

They enjoyed a smooth passage to victory in the final of the Tennent's Velvet Scottish Cup, striking a decisive blow for new age rugby against the old. Formed last summer by the merger of Glasgow High- Kelvinside and Glasgow Academicals, the multi-national brigade bankrolled by the millionaire Brian Simmers were too powerful a force for a Kelso team unpaid and, with one exception, home grown.

It was Tommy Hayes, one of the Hawks' two internationals from the Cook Islands, who did the most damage. The outside-half landed four penalties and two conversions and orchestrated the bulk of his side's ruthless attacking.

Kelso's try-line was breached four times, initially by Derek Stark, the Scotland wing who was once dubbed "the fastest pastry chef in international rugby". Last night the flying wing could savour a feast of his own making at the Three-Quarters, the sports cafe he opened last week in partnership with Gregor Townsend and Rowen Shepherd in Edinburgh's Grassmarket.

Twelve months ago Stark was in the Melrose team who beat Boroughmuir in the final and kept the cup in the Borders, Hawick having won the inaugural competition in 1996. Right from the start yesterday the trophy seemed destined for Glasgow as the Hawks sank their claws into Kelso, David Wilson and Alastair Common coming within inches of a try in the opening eight minutes. Hayes landed a penalty in the 12th minute but Kelso, to the delight of their huge following in the 23,345 crowd, were first to break through.

Their 12th-minute try was prompted by the scum-half Graeme Cowe, with a precision punt to the touch on the right, within five metres of the Hawks' line. Iain Fullerton plucked the throw and Iain Fairley confirmed his conversion from scrum-half to centre, taking a crash-ball from Johnny Wearne to score to the left of the posts. Wearne - Kelso's outside-half and, as a native of Johannesburg, the one outsider in their parochial ranks - kicked the conversion. It gave the underdogs a 7-3 lead which they held for just nine minutes.

The Hawks swept forward from half-way, Hayes broke the Kelso line on the right and shipped the ball wide to provide Derek Stark with a clear run to the line. Hayes converted and added three further penalties to his personal account before Kelso, trailing 19-7, missed their chance to turn the tide. Gordon Laing released Colin Jackson on the right and if the wing had been able to hurdle like his namesake he might have salvaged a losing cause. Instead, Jackson was bundled into touch by Glenn Metcalfe, the Hawks' Kiwi full-back, and Kelso's hopes were buried under a flurry of points.

Common scored on the overlap and Gary Mackay did like wise, picking up from the base of a five-metre scrum, before Wearne replied with Kelso's second try in the first minute of injury time. Even then, it was no final consolation. In the fourth minute of overtime, Common burst through again on the left. So the cup headed west, overflowing with Glaswegian points.

The Shield, the prize for the Scottish Rugby Union's second tier competition went to the Borders - but only just. It came tantalisingly close to being carried across the border by the burgeoning English force in Scottish rugby. Berwick, who in seven seasons have risen from the Edinburgh District League to division three of the Premier League, led Selkirk 11-10 as injury time approached.

But, then, just as the Berwickians were preparing to celebrate the town's finest sporting hour since 1967 (when the Rangers of Northumberland dumped the Rangers of Glasgow out of the Scottish Cup), the Scottish Shield was wrenched from their grip. Cameron Cochrane, Selkirk's outside centre, touched down and Guy Blair converted. Thus, by a score of 17-11, an English XV came to grief at Murrayfield for the first time since 1990.

Glasgow Hawks: G Metcalfe; D Stark, C Simmers (M McGrandles,80), D Wilson, A Common; T Hayes (C McGregor, 78), S Simmers (C Little, 50); G McIlwham, C Docherty (K Horton, 78), M Beckham (M Blackie, 70), C Afuakwah, S Hutton, F Wallace, G Mackay (A Ness, 70), M Wallace.

Kelso: D Baird; S Ross, G Laing, I Fairley, C Jackson; J Wearne, G Cowe; S Murray (R Hogarth, 68), K Thomson, D Howlett, I Fullerton, S Laing (S Rowley, 73), S Bennet, S Forsyth, A Roxburgh.

Referee: C Muir (Langholm).

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