Hawick 27, Gala 21
Hawick survived a second-half collapse to secure a 27-21 victory over close rivals Gala in their Border League Pool B match on Saturday.
With the new season on the horizon and a host of new faces at Mansfield Park, Hawick proved to be worthy of the pre-season hype with a thrilling opening 40 minutes.
The Robbie Dyes led 22-7 at the interval, courtesy of tries from Dom Buckley, Lewis Ferguson and Ross Combe, with Ali Weir adding a conversion and penalty.
Gala struggled with the conditions and Hawick’s blitzkrieg attack, which left them on the back foot for much of the contest.
The Netherdale outfit did manage to get points on the board through a Scott Wilkinson try, Gregor Hunter converting, but Gala were a long way off giving their hosts a challenge.
All the pace and drive Hawick had delivered in the opening 40 minutes disappeared in the second period and the Maroons, with the wind on their backs, took full advantage.
Tries from Rex Jeffery and Hunter, who converted both scores, pulled Gala to within a single point of their hosts.
Under pressure, and looking surprisingly lost, Hawick somehow managed to slow the game down before Matt Landels settled any Teri nerves, finishing a well-executed driving maul to hand the Greens a bonus-point 27-21 victory.
“The wind played a massive factor,” said a relieved Hawick captain, Bruce McNeil. “You can’t get out your half playing against that sort of wind and they really put us under pressure. They played their game plan really well.
“From our point of view, I saw us losing the game after building up a lead like we had, and then crumbling. But a win is a win, and earning a bonus-point win against Gala – you’ll take that any day.”
Gala’s Craig Russell said: “We went up to Stirling last week and got a win and we wanted to build on that – come here and get a win. It’s always tough coming to Mansfield, especially playing against the wind.
“I thought the boys came out in the second half with all guns blazing and put in a better performance in the second half. Just a bit unfortunate when we couldn’t get over the tryline at the end.
“Full credit to Hawick – their defence was fantastic,” added Russell. “We should probably just have taken some of those early chances we had.
“We might be playing in National League One this season but this shows we are still right up there.”
Hawick – Weir, Lewis Ferguson, Armstrong, Buckley, Combe, Brunton, Cottrell, Carryer, Renwick, Little, K. McNeil, Redpath, Graham, Gibson, B. McNeil. Replacements: Landels, Hamilton, Davies, Fairbairn, Munro, Anderson.
Gala – Keen, Chambers, Logan, Weir, Reavely, Todd, Welsh, Cairns, Johnston, Hunter, Russell, Emond, Jeffery, Wilkinson, Speirs, Roden, Watson, Irvine, Turnbull, Nicolson, Stewart, Pate.