PREMIER DIVISION ONE
ATHOLL INNES reports from Mansfield Park
THERE are warning signs at Hawick with the club heading for its worst record in history – and to lose to the high-flying Gala on their own patch was an ignominious defeat.
The Greens are still without a coach since Derek Armstrong stood down – with October 16 being the final date for applications.
They have yet to win a game this season, and they did not look like changing that statistic at any time on Saturday as the Maroons showed why they are real challengers for the title.
Former Hawick star – and interim backs coach – Jim Renwick has left an impression, but has always said that the job is not for him.
Gala played as a team, directed from the touchline by George Graham, who has drilled the side into one that shows no respect for the opposition. And the step-up to Premiership One has done the players no harm at all, in fact quite the opposite.
When Hawick were encamped almost on the Gala line in the final minutes as they strived for a try and conversion that would have given them a losing bonus point, Gala simply amassed bodies in numbers to hold off the challenge.
Said scrum half George Graham: “We are playing with a lot of confidence and, week in, week out, the players put in a performance.”
For Hawick, with only a draw to show for their efforts this campaign and failing to score for the second week in a row, it is back to the drawing board.
Captain Bruce McNeil said: “It has been our worst run for a long time. But the mood in the camp is pretty good and we are training well, but we made silly mistakes. We need to work hard as we know we are in a dogfight until the end of the season.”
And president Alister Pow added: “Games do not get any bigger than Hawick-Gala, but we have to dig deep now and try and pull ourselves up.”
Hawick contributed to their own downfall with two yellow cards for Daniel Landels and Neil McColm, while Chris Weir, of Gala, also fell foul to referee Rob Dickson’s whistle.
The visitors’ win ended any fears that they might have had at Mansfield Park.
Alan Emond scored the only try in the right-hand corner and Lee Millar banged over three penalties to make it a day to remember for the Maroons, who kept their line – and their title challenge – intact.
Hawick: N. McColm; G. Anderson, G. Johnstone, G. Hogg, S. Anderson; L. Armstrong, G. Cottrell; R. Sutherland, L. Gibson, S. Linton, K. Willison, M. Robertson, N. Mactaggart, B. McNeill, K. Davies. Subs: H. Scammell, N. Renwick, D. Landels, B. Keown, A. Turnbull.
Gala: B. Turner; S. Law, C. Auld, A. Emond, C. Robertson; L. Millar, George Graham; L. Bertram, R. Anderson, E. McQillin, C. Weir, O. Palepoi, Garry Graham, E. Dodds, G. Lowrie. Subs: P. Stewart, C. Keddie, D. Marshall, A. McLean, G. Lowrie.