Rugby: Currie 17-15 Hawick
A narrow loss at Malleny Park yesterday has more or less knocked Hawick out of contention for a Premiership play-off place.
Back in mid-December Currie beat top flight pace-setters Ayr to keep their hopes of a top-four place alive, yesterday it was sixth-placed Hawick, a team with lingering hopes themselves of squeezing into the mix.
Hawick had the better of the early exchanges, helped by Currie’s butter-fingered handling, but it was the home side who put the first points on the board after pressure from the pack led to a close-range try by lock Mike Vernal, converted by stand-off James Semple.
Hawick, combative and competitive as ever in the loose, replied immediately, their stand-off Lee Armstrong knocking over a 20-metre penalty.
But they lost concentration at the restart, allowing the ball to bounce. Currie hooker Matt Goodwin gathered it at speed to carry all the way to the line where Hawick went offside to prevent the try. Semple punished them with an easy penalty bang in front of the posts.
Just before the break with Currie pressing hard, Hawick broke out of their own half and some slick passing saw the ball reach the hands of full-back Neil Renwick who raced in to score in the corner. Armstrong’s conversion attempt from the touchline would have brought the teams level but it drifted wide, making it 10-8 at half time.
The Hawick scrum with Scott MacLeod and Bruce McNeil at its heart was standing up well to their Currie opponents who had Glasgow Warriors props Ryan Grant and Mike Cusack shoring up the front row and the rest of team seemed to grow in confidence the more possession they secured.
Currie were having difficulty containing the visitors and could only build momentum slowly. When the home side were awarded a penalty under the posts they chose to take the scrum and then to go again when Hawick collapsed twice in quick succession.
McNeil was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle but Hawick won a penalty at the next scrum and were able to clear.
It was only a brief respite and Currie came straight back at them but Semple’s kick for the corner went long and the pressure was relieved again.
He had better luck on the other side of the pitch. Flanker Travis Brooke made the catch and then scored the try as the maul rolled over the line. Semple converted.
Hawick hit back with their second try, created by the forwards and touched down by McNeil seconds after he returned from the sin bin. Armstrong converted to make it a two-point game with 10 minutes remaining.
Hawick finished on the attack and Currie were glad to boot the ball into touch and trigger the final whistle.