RBS NATIONAL LEAGUE
GAVIN GIBBON reports from Mansfield Park
HAWICK chalked up their first league win at the third attempt against a powerful Hillhead/Jordanhill side.
Captain Greg Cottrell led from the front, with Gary Johnstone, Liam Launders, Shawn Muir, Stuart Graham and Craig Smith also superb in defence.
In attack, Neil Renwick, Rory Hutton, Lee Armstrong and Keith Davies – the latter grabbing two tries – were at their best.
Hawick passed up a series of chances to open the scoring inside the first quarter-of-an-hour.
And so it was little wonder that the cheers and sighs of relief echoed around the ground when the ball was worked from right to left and Armstrong dived over, with Renwick, flawless with the boot all afternoon, adding the conversion.
But any thoughts that the floodgates would open were quickly extinguished by the visitors, who were making their first trip to Mansfield Park.
Playing with the wind at their backs, two Andy Leslie penalties brought them right back into the game, before Davies grabbed the first of his two tries to ease the nerves again. Hillhead kept charging forward and the gigantic number eight Blair Macpherson and prop Joe Stafford were posing a significant threat on the break.
But Hawick’s defence, in particular locks Smith and Kieran Willison, and the comparatively tiny Johnstone and Cottrell, held out.
With the wind at their backs the Greens exerted pressure from the start of the second half and were rewarded with a Renwick penalty.
This was followed minutes later by a try by Willison. Cottrell, who was having a tough time against his opposite number Dave Armstrong, burst clear from a scrum on the 22 and Willison was right on his shoulder to crash over.
Howie was badly injured in the process and the game was held up while he was stretchered off, but the rearranged Hillhead side took the blow in their stride and added another Leslie penalty.
However, just as it looked like Hillhead were back in the match, Hutton robbed possession and took on two defenders before releasing Davies to stretch his legs and cross under the posts.
With the bonus point secured, Dave Fiskin scored what was a consolation try for the visitors.
Hawick: N. Renwick, S. McLeod, L. Armstrong, G. Johnstone, N. McColm, R. Hutton, G. Cottrell, S. Muir, L. Gibson, L. Launders, C. Smith, K. Willison, S. Graham, K. Davies and N. Mactaggart. Subs: H. Scammell, B. Keown, D. Johnstone, R. Armstrong, A. Weir.