Gala 23

Glasgow Hawks15

THE Hawks' first outing in official competition turned into a salutary lesson in just how much work remains to be done and provided an opportunity for coach Iain Russell to spell out, in graphic terms, the harsh realities of life at rugby's sharp end.

Russell, the former GHK coach who returned from high-powered coaching in England to accept a full-time post with the amalgamated club that was to have epitomised the new spirit of Glasgow rugby, launched a sombre, uncompromising - and entirely justified - attack on some of those who wore the new red, white, and black Hawks' strip at Netherdale.

The Hawks, against a Gala side who were by no means world-beaters, were cruelly exposed up front, and for nigh on half-an-hour harvested not a single ball from the touchline - whether or not they had the throw.

As the game progressed the fledgling Hawks' performance improved to a degree, but only in the sense that they no longer looked as if they were a group of individuals who had just met in the bar.

The club, an amalgamation of GHK and Academicals, has suffered more than most in terms of the number of players on District secondment. The situation will improve by the time the Premiership begins in mid-November and when the district contractees have returned.

However, with more than two months' worth of League Trophy business still to be concluded, the aim has to be to ensure that, come November, the Hawks have developed the habit of winning. The converse, for those who drove the amalgamation to reality, is too disturbing to contemplate.

At Netherdale on Saturday, and speaking more in sorrow than in anger, Russell declared: ''It was very poor and I was surprised and disappointed. I have just spoken to the boys and have told them that there are too many of them who think they are of a certain standard when they are not.

''Whether that is because they have been given Glasgow contracts or because of the so-called Anniesland scene, which has evolved over the last few years, I don't know. However, there were players out there today who are not of the standard that they thought they were, or of the standard that I had been led to believe they were.

''It is my job to pick them up but, actually, they have to self-search a little bit as well. Some of the individual skills that they purported to possess were completely missing, and that is very, very disappointing.''

Gala led 6-0 at the interval through two Chris Paterson penalty goals, George Breckenridge having missed with three kickable penalties that would have put a different complexion on proceedings at the turn around.

Russell, who promises a short, sharp shock at training this week as the Hawks prepare for their official home debut against Currie, added: ''I would have to concede that it is probably a case of going back to the drawing board.

''At this very early stage of the season, albeit that we have the comfort zone of those Hawks who are away playing District rugby, we have to go straight back to the drawing board with those guys who were assumed to have achieved a certain level but haven't.

''I would love to believe that it was a case of our players having frozen in their first competitive match, but I don't think that's the case at all.

''To be absolutely cruel, crude and basic, I don't think that they are near the standard that they think they are or that I had hoped they were.

''We'll have to go straight back to the drawing board for hard, hard grafting at our Tuesday and Thursday sessions, which we have not done yet at all.

''I thought that they were capable of doing certain things and achieving a certain standard of play. They can't, and it's my fault entirely for believing that they could. The buck stops with me.''

SCORERS: Gala - Weir 1t; Boland 1t; C Paterson 2p, 2c; Dods 1p. Glasgow Hawks - McGregor 1t; Ness 1t; Breckenridge 1p, 1c.

Gala - Dods; Changleng, McKee, Townsend, McCorkindale; C Paterson, D Paterson; Easson, Crosbie, Thomson, Gray, Harrison, Ballantyne, Weir, Crooks. Substitutes - Boland for D Paterson (40m); Scott for Crosbie (40); Johnston for Easson (54); Coverhill for Ballantyne (82).

Glasgow Hawks - Breckenridge; Hawks, Common, Bassi. Mathewson; McGregor, Simmers; Perrie, Mason, Porte, Begley, Adams, Unkles, Brown, Richmond. Substitutes - Ablett for Common (40); Ness for Richmond (40); McLeod for McGregor (64); McIntyre for Porte (76 ).