Despite the disappointment of tasting defeat again at the weekend, Hawick head coach George Graham is determined to keep steering his youthful squad in the right direction.

Hawick's Lee Armstrong side-steps two players in a previous match with Ayr (picture by Bill McBurnie).
Hawick's Lee Armstrong side-steps two players in a previous match with Ayr (picture by Bill McBurnie).

The Mansfield Park boss was very critical of the display last Saturday against leaders Ayr but reminded onlookers once again that it would take Hawick a long while to get where they wanted to be.

There was a tremendous number of young players in the line-up, he said, many of whom were being blooded in the Tennent’s Premiership for the first time.

The Robbie Dyes have been displaying good form in patches all season – but the inabilty to build and sustain pressure on their rivals is exacting a heavy cost.

The side played some good rugby in the first half last week at Millbrae, with Lee Armstrong converting an excellent try by Andrew Mitchell.

Graham reckoned they still had a chance, although they trailed 21-7 at half time.

But it was a different tale after the break, as Ayr doubled their tally to win 42-7.

“I was very, very unhappy with the perfomance of quite a few of the guys,” Graham admitted.

“We were not managing to control the ball, although the weather was bad. Butwe’re not executing the things we are doing in training. We seem to be taking our foot off the gas .”

The Greens were blighted by a few injuries and call-offs, and struggled to assemble a front row, although Graham praised the work of Nicky Little, who stepped up from the second team, and teenage tryscorer Mitchell.

“We just need to keep working,” he said.

“Some boys put their hands up; some boys let themselves down. We just have to make sure everyone’s on the same playing field and same wavelength, and putting as much effort in as everyone else.

“Everyone is working really really hard in training – we just need to get that on the field.”

Graham said Hawick were delivering many “little flashes” of good rugby but, at the moment, were unable to sustain them.

“If we don’t build pressure we can’t sustain and exert pressure on the other team, which would make them defend a lot more and make the wide channels easier to attack,” explained Graham. “We can’t keep the ball to carry out our plans to make sure we do that.”

Retaining the ball would allow the building of phases which would then create pressure, he added.

“We have to be able to build pressure to exert pressure on teams.

“If we don’t make them defend for long periods of time, then they won’t get tired or lose their shape and they won’t get broken up.

“That’s what is happening to us – teams are looking after the ball for long periods and we can’t keep up with phases of play.”

Graham said he was glad to be returning to Mansfield Park tomorrow (Saturday) for the visit of Stirling County, who defeated Boroughmuir 28-27 last weekend.

“We need the boys to lift their game a hell of a lot more but there are no easy games,” said Graham.

“We are only seven games in and, of course, I am disappointed with the start. But I still believe we can have a go. We just need to keep working.”