Hawick YM 15
STUART CAMERON reports from Mansfield Haugh
THIS was a gutsy, no-nonsense performance from the Redskins who thoroughly deserved their win against opponents who had, prior to this game, blown away all challengers in their opening games.
It was generally expected that they would do the same to YM, particularly with the Teries having so many problems getting a squad together to even take to the field because of injuries and some of their players being released to play for Hawick.
The usual ferocious wind was much in evidence and YM faced into it during the first half, aiming to keep Musselburgh’s score down. They not only did that, but they turned round at the break level.
Musselburgh were three points up after only a minute when David O’Hagan kicked a penalty in front of the posts. Twenty minutes later, he thumped over another penalty, but what was pleasing was the fact that YM were defending ferociously and stopping Musselburgh in their tracks at source. One could see confidence building by the minute as the pack which destroyed Howe of Fife last week had met their match at Mansfield Haugh.
In addition, YM kept the ball in hand, playing pick-and-go rugby – and it was effective. They also created several excellent pieces of play, running the ball from their own half and ending up in their opponents’ 22.
Frustration crept in and two yellow cards for the visitors didn’t help their cause. On 37 minutes, John Coutts kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit and on the stroke of half-time nailed another to make it 6-6. YM were unlucky not be in front at the turn when Bruce Campbell appeared to have nipped in for a try, but an infringement chalked the score off.
With wind advantage, the Teries frustrated Musselburgh even more, playing the conditions well. But after Coutts banged over a third penalty, Musselburgh finally found a way through the home defence to score a forwards’ try, William Fleming driving over and O’Hagan adding the extras.
YM upped their workrate even more and should have had at least two touchdowns, but professional fouls from Musselburgh prevented them.
A third yellow card and a fourth penalty for Coutts was the Redskins’ reward. Then, on the hour, a fifth Coutts penalty put YM back in front at 15-13.
Both outfits each had a chance to kick another penalty, but missed, and the final exciting 20 minutes was played out with no more scoring as the Redskins hung on for victory.
YM now face Peebles at The Gytes on Saturday for a local derby everyone is talking about.
At the end of the season, one of these two teams will be ranked seventh in the Borders.
If YM can stay ahead of Peebles they will have overtaken Berwick, Langholm and the men from The Gytes in the space of two seasons, an indication of how far the club has progressed in such a short time.
The added spice, of course, is Gerry McGuinness returning to his former club to take on Peter Wright’s men – mouthwatering indeed!
One final word on Wullie Blacklock – a giant in every sense of the word in Hawick. This was his last scheduled game for YM.
Afterwards, he told TheSouthern that if he does come back again it will be on his terms.
He said: “I was persuaded by Jammy McFarlane to play up to the end of September this year.
“I’d rather walk away now and maybe come back when I want to play, rather than feeling that I have to play.”
The big man will certainly be a huge miss for the club, but I have a wee bet with him that he will be playing rugby again before the year is out. I hope so – and I’m not alone.
Hawick YM: B. Hill; M. Graham, J. Coutts, G. Kellington, G. Wylie; D. McCracken, B. Campbell (c); B. Lilly, G. Douglas, W. Blacklock, A. Turnbull, S. Mabon, C. Robson, D. Cowan, R. Hogg. Subs: B. Thomson, R. Graham, H. Neish, S. Hill.