Hawick relishing prospect of return to Border League action, says head coach Matty Douglas
They play their first stand-alone fixture in the regional competition, being contested as a league for the first time in years after abandoning its previous two-pool pool format, away to Scottish National League Division 2 table-toppers Peebles tomorrow, February 9, with kick-off at the Gytes at 7.30pm.
That follows three Scottish Premiership double-headers, all victories – by 61-7 at home at Mansfield Park to Kelso in September, by 61-0 away to Jed-Forest in October and by 36-8 hosting Selkirk later that same month.
Those three wins see the premiership table-toppers also in pole position in the seven-team regional table with a dozen points, four clear of second-placed Selkirk.
As well as being their second derby on the trot after beating Selkirk 59-3 away on Saturday in their last game of the regular premiership season, this week’s game is their first stand-alone Border League fixture since their 18-14 win at home to Kelso in April 2022’s final as they didn’t make it out of their pool last year.
Back then, after drawing 20-20 at home to Selkirk, the Souters went on to beat Jed by a bigger margin than Hawick managed, 36-10 at home compared to the Greens’ 22-12 away, qualifying them for last March’s final against Melrose, so Douglas is pleased to be getting more of a crack of the whip this time round, playing six games rather than two.
Their remaining fixtures are against Scottish National League Division 1 teams Melrose and Gala, the former at home on Saturday, March 23, with kick-off at 3pm, and the latter away on a date yet to be fixed.
Hawick are still in the running for silverware on three fronts – the premiership title and Scottish cup both for the second year running and the Border League title for the 51st time – and they’re hoping for a hat-trick, says Douglas.
“The Border League’s another target of ours,” he said.
“We won it two years ago so we’ll be looking to try to win it back.
“We actually never lost a game last year but we didn’t get through because of points. That was the reason we didn’t manage to retain the Border League title.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s trip to Peebleshire to take on head coach Graeme Paterson’s league leaders, Douglas warned their hosts that he’s likely to be fielding a full-strength team as the club’s reserves are playing in the Border junior league cup at the same time, away to Gala A, limiting his selection options.
“The one on Friday will be a different challenge,” he said.
“Peebles are no mugs – they’re sitting on top of National 2 going for a title – so we need to approach it like any other game.
“The big thing for me is that it’s our last game before the premiership play-offs and we also have a seconds game on Friday night so that probably dictates what sort of side will head to Peebles.
“There’ll not be many changes, maybe a couple of forced ones, due to injuries or one of our boys, Fraser Wilson, being away with Scotland’s under-20s or whatever.
“It’ll be a tough game at the Gytes, it always is, but we’re looking forward to it.”
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