FIONA SCOTT reports from Mansfield Park
COMPOSURE was the winner of this game at a bright but breezy Mansfield Park.
It was a trait Heriot’s had in abundance and one that the home side lost in the game’s closing stages.
Playing with the wind behind them in the opening half, Hawick were keen to take advantage and did so in the fourth minute when Neil Renwick slotted a mammoth penalty goal from almost halfway.
Heriot’s responded with a drive up the centre of the park and a penalty saw them with a line-out just metres from the Hawick line. The hosts stole the ball at the ruck, however, and a huge thump from Rory Hutton in the in-goal area saw the ball safe in the Heriot’s half of the pitch once more.
Hutton was the main man in the next phase as Hawick charged towards the try line, but the onslaught was cut short. Renwick notched another penalty though and the hosts doubled their lead.
Time and again the visitors made their way back into a scoring position, only to loose possession, and even when Hawick were down to 14 men for 10 minutes, Michael Robertson having been sent to the sin bin, Heriot’s were still unable to cross the whitewash.
The numerical advantage switched with a minute of the first half remaining. Robertson returned and Gregor Lawson was sent to cool his heels.
And it looked as though Hawick were certain to score as the ball was shipped out towards a two-man overlap. The final pass was fumbled into touch, though, much to the chagrin of the large home support, and the score stood at 6-0 to Hawick at half-time.
Heriot’s came out with renewed vigour after the restart, despite being a man down, and claimed the lead almost immediately when Colin Goudie jinked his way over to touch down, and Graham Wilson made the conversion.
Play resumed with Heriot’s still making most of the ground until 13 minutes in, when back row man Keith Davies intercepted in his own half and strode out to get to within about seven metres of the visitors’ try line. Momentum was now well and truly with the home side and another break by Ross Armstrong was again stopped just short.
Minutes later, Hawick were rewarded with a penalty chance to edge themselves into the lead once more. With Renwick now off, the kicking duties fell to centre Lee Armstrong and despite the pressure he made no mistake from the 22.
As the game entered the closing stages it became very much a case of defence for the hosts as Heriot’s strove for the winning score.
An error in the Hawick scrum gave them that chance and with the wind behind him, Wilson made the resulting penalty look easy from just inside the home half.
One minute later, the Teries got the same opportunity from about the same distance, but Armstrong’s attempt fell just short.
And, just on full-time, Heriot’s put the final nail in the Hawick coffin when Max Learmonth capitalised on a home mistake to touch down. Wilson converted to squeeze Hawick out of a losing bonus point position.
The Greens now face an uphill battle in terms of their ambitions to stay in the top flight next season, but captain Bruce McNeil believes his team can still compete for a place.
“What today’s game showed is that we can’t afford to rest on our laurels and we have to go out there every single week and play for the full 80 minutes,” he said.
“We are not out of it yet, though, and we will now go out and fight it out in our last two games.”
Hawick: N. Renwick; N. McColm, L. Armstrong, G. Hogg, S. Anderson; R. Hutton, G. Cottrell; R. Sutherland, L. Gibson, S. Linton, B. Keown, M. Robertson, N. Mactaggart, B. McNeil, K. Davies. Subs: H. Scammell, S. Muir, M. Landels, R. Armstrong.