Late mud-caked Hawick win sends Gala down

Hawick captain Bruce McNeil extends a handshake to Sasa Tofilau  at the end of the BT Premiership road for Gala (picture by Alwyn Johnston)
Hawick captain Bruce McNeil extends a handshake to Sasa Tofilau at the end of the BT Premiership road for Gala (picture by Alwyn Johnston)

Hawick 16, Gala 6

Hawick snatched a vital win to consign Gala to National League rugby next season, with a late victory on Saturday at Mansfield Park, writes Atholl Innes.

The hosts may yet need a play-off to retain their own Premiership status after a match in which emotions ran high on a wet and blustery afternoon.

“It was a massive day for the club,” said Hawick president John Thorburn.

“It is sad that one of the teams has to go down. I feel sorry for Gala, but that is the world we are in.

“Hawick stuck in well, as there was not a lot between the teams and the late try (by Kyle Brunton) made all the difference.”

Mathematically, Gala would stay up if they scored a huge total against Boroughmuir.

But, said president Graham Low: “We need to beat them by 80 points and that is not going to happen. We have to face up to that. But we are still in the cup and the Border League.

“The league is not about one game and the boys put a lot of effort in. We had opportunities and we have come out on the wrong side.”

Gala were in the game until the final six minutes – and staged a strong finish – but Hawick overall were the biggest threat, even with having three players, Bruce Campbell, skipper Bruce McNeil and Stuart Graham, all yellow-carded, and playing for a time with only 13 players.

Gala were always chasing the game, with Gregor Hunter kicking two penalties to three from Ali Weir in the first half.

The game ebbed and flowed after the interval until replacement Brunton took advantage of a Gala mistake to score and Lee Armstrong converted.

Gala had time to come back but the Hawick defence tackled well and held firm to take the points.

Hawick next play at Melrose, while Gala host Boroughmuir, who still need to play Currie – which emphasised the value of the victory on a heavy pitch.