Heriot's 13 - 16 Glasgow Hawks

Try - Olsen

Penalties - Rutherford 2

Conversion - Rutherford

Tries - Begley, Dalton

Penalties - Strang 2

A CLOSE game, but not one you would ever describe as a nail-biter.

If there was entertainment to be had at Goldenacre yesterday, it sprang more from the conspiracy of thud and blunder that unfolded on its admittedly difficult surface, than the raw drama of the occasion. This was a top of the table clash that seemed determined to live down to a lower billing.

At the finish, the Hawks deserved the win - and the BT Premiership title that is now all but mathematically sewn up - on the strength of their lower error count and their greater control of the ball.

They played this game on an uncharacteristically narrow front, well aware that it was neither the day, nor the occasion, for pyrotechnics. Their celebrations in a few weeks time will be exuberant enough; yesterday, they knew that exuberance was not required.

The maddening dimension, from the home side's point of view, was that Heriot's probably had more of the territory overall, and certainly seemed to dominate possession for longer periods than the Hawks seemed to enjoy. Yet the visitors were not exactly stretched to cope with the Heriot's threat, the sticky surface meaning the ball was moved painfully slowly at times. In one galling passage near the end, Heriot's recycled through a multitude of phases, yet succeeded only in moving backwards towards their own line.

There was, then, greater comfort in victory for the Hawks than the three-point margin might suggest. Had they chosen to open up and chase the bonus point then they would be even closer to the title this morning than they are, but this was a day for the more pragmatic approach.

Having suffered the early setbacks that saw them trailing by 13 points at the end of the first quarter, they tightened up superbly, scored the necessary points, and denied Heriot's another sniff of a score all the way to the finish.

The nearest they came to anxiety was in the second half episode when Steve Gordon, the right wing, required lengthy treatment after being caught at the bottom of a ruck. Gordon was fitted with a neck brace and taken off on a stretcher, but reports from the Hawks' camp afterwards suggested that no lasting damage had been done.

That incident seemed to take some of the wind out of the Hawks' sails, but they still produced the clearest tryscoring chance of the second half, a 55th minute break by Murray Strang only ending when he was impeded illegally by Ian Wilson, the Heriot's scrum-half. Wilson received a yellow card for the offence, Strang kicked the penalty to draw level at 13-13, and a few minutes later clipped over another to give the Hawks the lead they defended to the end.

In that opening spell, however, you would have bet heavily against the prospect of the Hawks having any sort of lead at the finish. Even on such a difficult pitch, Heriot's demonstrated a sprightly sense of purpose that gained due reward when fly-half Craig Rutherford claimed two penalties in the first six minutes to put them 6-0 in front.

The Hawks seemed to be taken aback by the audacity of Heriot's approach, and it was no great surprise when the lead was increased by an Andrew Olsen try in the 20th minute, the centre scything through an out of shape defence for the touchdown.

It was that score that finally seemed to persuade the Hawks to tighten up, although the bellowing of Peter Wright from the sidelines may just have had an influence as well.

Eight minutes after the try, they scorned the opportunity to kick a simple penalty, prodding the ball into the corner instead. From the resultant lineout, they controlled the drive superbly, Steve Begley finishing off by powering over the line.

Hawks' second try had an element of controversy, for when Iain Monaghan took a quick penalty and sent Peter Dalton over for the score, there was a strong suspicion that he was some distance from the correct mark.

It would be churlish to dwell on that incident, however, for at the finish there was little doubt their victory was deserved.

Heriot's: A Wilson (R Ebdy, 35); M Teague, N De Luca, A Olsen, C Keenan; C Ritherford, I Wilson;

M Welch, N Meikle, G Talac, A McIntosh (P Nimmo, 62), J Osbourne, J Syme, P Eccles, C Harrison.

Glasgow Hawks: M Adamson; S Gordon (S Low, 53), A Maclay, S Duffy, W Henry; M Strang, I Monaghan (R McKnight, 59); E Milligan, F Thomson, P Dalton, S Begley (S Forrest, 59), R Maxton, G Francis, N McKenzie, M Sitch.

Referee: D Changleng (Gala).