Narrow win at Hawick sets Maroons up for title

Hawick vs Gala RFC
Hawick vs Gala RFC
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Gala moved to the head of the Premiership title race after edging out Hawick by the narrowest of margins in a match that provided thrilling viewing despite the appalling ground conditions.

There might have been only one point between the teams at the end of a match that in many ways was all about traditional Border rivalry, but the win sets up the Netherdale men for a genuine charge at the title.

Maroons skipper George Graham cautioned against making rash assumptions, however.

“As much as we’re in the driving seat, we’ve still got two tough games to go,” he told The Southern.

“Today’s result takes a little bit of pressure off, but we need to keep looking for the wins.”

Graham believes that Gala will have a stronger squad for the last two matches.

He added: “Chris Weir coming back is a good bonus, plus we have 2nd XV lads stepping up and that keeps up the competition for places.”

For Hawick, defeat by such a narrow margin hurt, but in the cold light of day, the Greens can reflect on a display that was combative, courageous and skillful.

“In the 25 minutes bridging the two halves we played better rugby than we’ve played all season and the comeback we staged, and the two tries, were all down to trying to play rugby,” said coach Phil Leck.

“And then you get a second half when one side just wants to be totally negative. But fair play to them, they’ve got a good set piece and that’s the key to a lot of things.”

Gala, aiming for a league and cup double this season, were massive favourites going into the clash and seemed to confirm the pundits’ view in the opening quarter when their dominant play propelled them into a 12-0 lead with a Grant Somerville try and a penalty try converted by Ewan Scott.

Hawick found a desire to hit back and were rewarded with a try in the corner by Lee Armstrong from a tap penalty and just before half-time Wullie Blacklock took a reverse pass from Greg Cottrell to plunge over for a second, Neil Renwick’s conversion levelling the scores at 12-12.

Two minutes into the second half, Renwick gave Hawick the lead with a penalty, but Gala replied with a close-range try from Gary Graham, converted by Scott. The second of two penalties by Renwick restored Hawick’s lead, only for the Greens to be hit with a ‘lazy runner’ penalty that allowed Scott to kick for victory.