Bonus-point victory confirms Tennent's Premiership play-off spot for Hawick

Hawick confirmed their place in rugby’s Tennent’s Premiership play-offs this season with a bonus-point victory at home to Musselburgh on Saturday.

By Darin Hutson
Monday, 31st January 2022, 2:41 pm
Updated Monday, 31st January 2022, 5:08 pm
Shaun Fairbairn on the ball for Hawick against Musselburgh on Saturday (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Shaun Fairbairn on the ball for Hawick against Musselburgh on Saturday (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

That 36-12 win, along with fourth-placed Edinburgh Academical’s 26-21 home defeat by second-placed Marr, moved them up to third.

Bridging a seven-point gap to leapfrog Marr into second spot and secure a home play-off semi-final remains a possibility too, a trip to Troon on Saturday, February 19, being one of the two regular games the Greens have left, but a helping hand from Jed-Forest two weeks later on the last day of the season would be required to pull off that unlikely feat.

In the meantime, Hawick host basement side Aberdeen Grammar on Saturday, February 12, with kick-off at 3pm, and head coach Matty Douglas is hoping his side can seize that opportunity to keep up their challenge for a finish as high up the table as possible.

Shawn Muir in possession for Hawick versus Musselburgh (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

They’ve also got a Border League match away to Peebles this Friday at 7.30pm.

“It was really pleasing,” Douglas told Borders Rugby TV after watching his side retain possession of the Bill McLaren Shield.

“It was a stuffy first half and obviously there was a strong wind today at Mansfield Park. We played actually really well into the wind, though I think we maybe didn’t take our chances, especially at lineout time, but we spoke about that at half-time and we fixed that, and it was just about trying to lift the pace of the game.

“They’re a good side Musselburgh, but they can’t live with any tempo or pace and we definitely had that in the second half, and credit to the boys, they’ve really put in an 80-minute performance.”

Ross Graham on the charge for Hawick against Musselburgh (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Welcoming the confirmation of a play-off place with two matches to spare, he said: “It was one of the targets this season, probably not at the start, when we were just hoping for the best, but after beating Currie, it kind of shifted.

“Against Glasgow Hawks a couple of weeks ago, we stepped back a bit and I was quite hard on them as a group, telling them it’s not acceptable, and they’ve answered that.

“As a club, it’s great to be heading into a play-off, and in knockout rugby anything can happen, so we’ll not fear to go anywhere, whether it’s home or away, so that’s something we’re looking forward to in a couple of weeks’ time.”

Douglas was also pleased to see up-and-coming talents such as Corey Tait and Elliot Stanger holding their own against more experienced opposition, saying: “It’s great. That’s what we’ve built around.

“Yes, we’ve got the likes of Shawn Muir, Stuart Graham, Shaun Fairbairn – experienced players – in there, but I’m all for giving younger players a chance, and if they impress us, they’ll get a shot, and Corey Tait’s done that all season and Elliot Stanger is definitely one for the future. He’s a bit raw but as a coaching team, we’ll manage that.

“It’s exciting to see them on the ball, and at a young age to be in a Hawick team, it gives them full confidence as well.”

Douglas is hoping his side can defend the shield named after Hawick broadcasting legend McLaren against Aberdeen as that means they’ll keep hold of it over the close season, saying: “We had to battle to get it back here before Christmas and it’s another incentive for the boys.”

Hawick’s try-scorers against Musselburgh were Stuart Graham twice, Muir, Ronan McKean, Glen Welsh and Deaglan Lightfoot, with Kirk Ford defying high winds to add three conversions.