Gala sit at the top of the BT Premiership, but they do so uneasily after a faulty performance that was rescued in the sixth minute of injury time by a Craig Dods drop goal.
The Maroons appeared to have the game in the bag when they led 17-3 after 25 minutes, but a loss of focus on the part of Gala and a rise in self belief by Hawick turned the match round to give the Greens a 21-20 lead going into injury time.
Gala’s demise after their dynamic start which produced tries by Euan Dods, Craig Dods and Luke Pettie was certainly not appreciated by head coach George Graham. He said: “I’m absolutely bubbling over with anger.
“That is the worst performance I’ve ever had. We got out of jail here. The way we played in the first 20 to 30 minutes we were 40 points better. But we just shut down, stopped playing and did everything I asked the players not to do.
“Hawick are a massively improved team and at the end we were lucky to get away with it. We need to be a lot better and we need to be a lot more disciplined. It will go down in the history books as a win, but for me, I’m bitterly disappointed.”
It was killer blow for a Hawick side that for so much of the game showed massive spirit in defence and which at times produced handling rugby of a high order that resulted in tries by Lindsay Gibson, Scott McLeod and Greg Cottrell. But at least Hawick took a bonus point from the first of this season’s Premiership Border derbies.
Remarkably, Hawick were able to score three tries despite coming off second best in the set-piece and in their kicking from hand, which at times merely handed back possession to a Gala side that showed good ball retention, even if so many of the other qualities the Maroons have shown recently were absent.
Hawick assistant coach Roddy Deans articulated the feelings of the team when he said: “We are gutted. We were pretty slow out of the traps, but managed to weather the storm.
“Gala kept the ball for long phases, but our defence was very good. We are making great strides and a lot of improvements and have a lot of young boys who are willing to learn. The result is hard to take after the effort we put into the performance, but we have to get better at winning these tight games. Despite the defeat, we will take a lot of heart out of the performance.”
Hawick will reflect on a tense six minutes of injury time in which they defended their 21-20 lead with messianic passion, their tenacious tackling chopping down Gala at every move.
But the Gala forwards kept the ball and used their frontal power to good effect, and when the ball was zipped back to Craig Dods, he showed the calmness of his father, Peter, to kick his side to victory.