Hawick YM 10
RBS BORDERS REGIONAL CUP
STUART CAMERON reports from Mansfield Haugh
THERE was always going to be much apprehension and tension surrounding this historic first competitive fixture between Hawick’s top two sides.
No one quite knew what to expect. Total commitment was guaranteed, of course – but would it spill over into an all-out brawl as it did down the road at Riverside Park the same day, when Jed-Forest and Kelso clashed?
Thankfully there was no such problems in this game, which should have been played at Mansfield Park, but was switched with 45 minutes to kick-off over the fence to Mansfield Haugh, as Hawick’s own ground hadn’t recovered from the pounding it took the previous week in the match against Kelso.
What the sizeable crowd witnessed was a highly entertaining game between two teams who know each other so well. Indeed, many Greens players had played for the Redskins, while several from YM’s side had experienced wearing the green jersey.
The inclusion of Wullie Blacklock made things interesting in the front row and there’s no doubt that it was in the pack where YM found success, getting the edge in the first half over their higher-ranked rivals in that department.
But the Hawick backline were simply awesome on Saturday, playing sevens-style rugby in muddy conditions and, in the end, running YM ragged as they built up a score of 53 points – and with five disallowed tries for a variety of reasons, it could have been a lot more.
Hawick had the perfect start when inside a minute Neil Renwick popped over a penalty, but two minutes later it was all-square when Dean McCracken kicked one of his own for the Redskins. Renwick landed another on 10 minutes.
Both teams played running rugby – that was probably YM’s downfall. They haven’t scored many points this season, even though they’ve learned the habit of winning. We have seen them play tactical rugby and come away with the points.
On Saturday, they tried to match Hawick’s running game, but the Greens turned them over a lot and ran it from everywhere – and with the likes of John Coutts, Rory Hutton and Neil Renwick doing the running, that spells danger.
Scott McLeod should have scored the first touchdown, but play was stopped for a forward pass when he was in the clear.
However, there was no surprise when the opening try arrived after 19 minutes. Keith Davies picked up at the back of a five-metre scrum and passed to Neil Renwick who beat Steve Mabon to bag his sixth touchdown of the season. He also converted.
The spectators witnessed one of the best tries they will see at any level this season six minutes later. Dean McCracken kicked for territory into the Hawick 22. Hutton picked it up and side-stepped, swerved and dummied his way past four YM players before passing to the dynamic Keith Davies.
He got his pass away to Greg Cottrell who dashed 60m to the line – a magical try stamped “Made by Hutton” in green ink and one which will be viewed over and over for many years to come.
Renwick converted to give the Greens a 20-3 lead at the break, but when Cottrell gave Davies a scoring pass early in the second period it gave YM the proverbial mountain to climb. From a defending line-out an overthrow gave Hawick possession and with space out wide, Neil Renwick dotted the ball down for another try, which he goaled.
Credit to YM for battling on and they were awarded a penalty try when their scrum put pressure on Hawick’s pack.
McCracken’s conversion put his team into double figures, but Hawick responded by running in three more tries from Graham Hogg, Craig Smith and Lee Armstrong before the end – two of them converted by Renwick – to seal the game.
Hawick’s Graham Hogg said afterwards: “We knew it was going to be tough and we’re reasonably happy.
“It’s good for the town to have two teams at this level and that can only be good for the future of Hawick rugby.”
YM coach Jammy McFarlane added: “We were disappointed to leak 50 points. It was always going to be difficult to prevent Hawick from playing their wide game. That was the plan, but unfortunately we never executed it properly.”
z You can enjoy the highlights, including that try from Greg Cottrell, made by Rory Hutton, on Borders Rugby TV at www.BordersRugby.net
Hawick: N. Renwick; S. McLeod, G. Johnstone, G. Hogg, J. Coutts; R. Hutton, G. Cottrell (c); L. Launders, L. Gibson, M Landels, C. Smith, D. Lowrie, N. Mactaggart, S. Graham, K. Davies. Subs: G. Anderson, D. Landels, K. Willison, L. Armstrong, S. Anderson.
Hawick YM: M. Graham; G. Wylie, G. Kellington, J. Hendrie, S. Hill; D. McCracken, B. Campbell (c); A. Williamson, R. Graham, W. Blacklock, W. Thomson, S. Mabon, G. Douglas, D. Cowan, R. Hogg. Subs: W. Lilly, A. Turnbull, C. Robson, G. Cannon, G. Welsh.