Jan 31 2013 by Andrew McGilvray, Hamilton Advertiser
Hamilton blew an ideal opportunity to distance themselves from the chasing relegation pack as defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory.
A disastrous seven minutes of poor defending saw them concede three tries to Stewart’s Melville on a day when Hamilton looked like the stronger squad.
To add insult to injury, the margin of defeat denied Hamilton a losing bonus point.
The first period of the game involved a quick exchange of penalties, with Hamilton’s Owen McLeish getting the scoring underway after three minutes, only for Mike Hanning’s kick to level three minutes later.
For the next few minutes Hamilton’s defence kept Stew Mel trapped in their own half and when the hosts were penalised for holding on the ground McLeish slotted for 6-3 from 40 metres.
Stew-Mel then upped their game and when a series of crash balls and quick rucks took them deep into Hamilton’s half, tighthead prop Adam Greig raced the last 10 metres for the try and an 8-6 lead.
Three minutes later they repeated the move, with Craig Marshall crossing for a 13-6 advantage.
Hamilton were soon under pressure again and Chris Damsteegt crashed over, with Hanning this time finding the target for 20-6.
Hamilton thought they had scored, but the referee ruled that Adam Barnett had knocked on and the ‘score’ was disallowed. They did pull a score back ahead of the interval, however, when John Selfridge crashed over and McLeish tagged the points, reducing the score to 20-13.
McLeish further reduced the leeway with a penalty, but that was cancelled out as Hanning slotted an award for Stew-Mel, leaving the deficit at 23-16.
Hamilton scored a great try in 60 minutes when Richie Maxton beat his opposite number to steal a lineout, Stevie Turnbull found Craig Inglis and he carried the ball to within 10 metres, Barnett took over before being tackled, and Maxton finished the move, with McLeish levelling at 23-23.
However Andy Hill was sin-binned in front of the posts and Hanning kicked the penalty before Joni Hare sealed the win with a late try.
The final score denied Hamilton a bonus point by a single point, and leaves the Bulls with some work to do, especially after Biggar’s win narrowed the gap to eight points.