Forwards come to the fore at Mansfield

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THE sun shone at Mansfield but it was Hawick who gained from the beneficial rays of the solar heater, writes Alan Lorimer.

For the Greens claimed their first home win and their second of the RBS Premiership with a committed display against a penalty-prone Stirling County side.

Hawick included Nikki Walker in their side but the Scotland cap, playing out of position at centre, saw little action in a game that became a dogged forward battle from which the Greens’ eight emerged the stronger, not least because of the contribution of super heavyweight sub, Wullie Blacklock in the second half.

The big prop made his bulky presence felt with powerful scrummaging and in making the hard yards in a second half contest that increasingly became an exercise in mutual nullification. That process limited the scope of Scotland stand-off Duncan Weir, who was playing his second ‘rehabilitation’ match for Stirling ahead of resuming duties with Glasgow Warriors.

Head coach, Phil Leck, admitted that it was always going to be difficult playing against a team coached by Graeme Young. “We know each other very well having worked together with the Scotland amateur side last season” said Leck, who again praised the efforts of scrum half Jake Evens.

“For a teenager Jake has done very well. He’s playing rugby of a much higher standard than he’s been used to at Sedgley Park. He’s still got a lot to learn, though,” stated Leck.

Despite becoming a forward battle, both sides did try to play open rugby and from two such situations Stirling should have scored only for forward passes to rule out tries.

Then when County created an overlap, the ball was spilled allowing Lee Armstrong to apply the boot and Steve Anderson the finishing touches for the game’s only try, Hawick’s other points coming from four penalty goals and a conversion by Neil Renwick.