Greens draw on flagging reserves, but last conversion miss costs dear

Hawick 10

Stewart’s Melville 10

PREMIER B

FIONA SCOTT reports from Mansfield Park

FAILURE to turn pressure into points knocked a dent into Hawick’s efforts to retain their top-flight status on Saturday.

A mammoth defensive effort from the visiting Stewart’s/Melville outfit kept the hosts from crossing the whitewash for the majority of the game.

Hawick attacked from the off and after missing an early penalty attempt continued to pepper the Stew/Mel line, but failed to convert their power into points.

After kicking themselves out of danger, the visitors touched down first when Liam Steele carved himself a relatively simple track through to score. Michael Hanning slotted the conversion, but almost from the restart Hawick took the ball up to their own line yet again and this time there was no messing about. Neil McColm drove through in the corner to close the gap.

Once again, however, Stew/Mel found a hole in the Greens’ defence and Scott Riddell’s midfield break saw him destined for the try line, only to be knocked into touch by Neil Renwick with inches to spare.

The remainder of the half was more or less played out on the Stew/Mel side of the pitch, but Hawick failed to find the try line and the half ended 5-7 to the visitors.

Worse was to come at the start of the second half when influential captain Bruce McNeil was yellow-carded for killing the ball and the visitors stretched their lead through a Hanning penalty.

Hawick continued to throw everything but the kitchen sink at their guests who maintained their gutsy defensive performance.

With five minutes left on the clock, however, the Mansfield faithful were finally given something to cheer about when McColm crossed for his second try, following a Renwick break from a free kick, after the visitors were penalised for holding on.

The agony was audible when the conversion attempt of the latter rebounded back off the posts and the game ended in much the same vein it had been all afternoon, with the hosts piling on the pressure before losing the ball.

Speaking after the game, McNeil said: “There were a lot of positives to take out of that match and that is what we will be focusing on over the next couple of weeks.”

Hawick: N. Renwick; S. Anderson, L. Armstrong, G. Johnstone, N. McColm; R. Hutton, G. Cottrell; R. Sutherland, L. Gibson, S. Linton, K. Willison, B. Keown, B. McNeil, M. Robertson, K. Davies. Subs: S. Muir, M. Landels, N. Mactaggart, L. Lawrence.