Hawick still targeting top-two finish in rugby’s Tennent’s Premiership as play-offs near

Hawick aren’t yet ready to abandon all hope of a top-two finish in rugby’s Tennent’s Premiership despite being seven points off second place with only three games left to play.

By Darin Hutson
Monday, 24th January 2022, 1:24 pm
Updated Monday, 24th January 2022, 1:25 pm
Jed-Forest's Craig Cowan being tackled by Hawick scrum-half Gareth Welsh (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Jed-Forest's Craig Cowan being tackled by Hawick scrum-half Gareth Welsh (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

The Greens’ 34-10 win at Jed-Forest on Saturday leaves them sitting fourth with 52 points from 15 games, one point behind third-placed Edinburgh Academical following the capital side’s 24-9 home win against Selkirk at the weekend.

Hawick’s try-scorers at Jedburgh’s Riverside Park were Andrew Mitchell twice, Ruaridh MacLeod and stand-in captain Shawn Muir, regular skipper Matt Carryer being out injured. Kirk Ford added four conversions and two penalties.

The hosts’ tries, both unconverted, were scored by Gregor Young and Paulo Ferreira.

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Jed-Forest winger Mason Cullen on the charge against Hawick (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Saturday’s defeats leave Jed sixth in the 10-team table with 26 points from 14 games and Selkirk second bottom with 22 points from 15 matches.

Muir said he was pleased at the improvement shown by Hawick to bounce back from starting off 2022 with a 31-10 loss at Glasgow Hawks, telling Borders Rugby TV: “Since the Hawks game, we’ve had four good sessions. The boys have really reacted, and I was chuffed with that bonus point at a really tough place against a stuffy Jed side so I’d take that every day of the week.

“Losing Matty was a blow this week obviously but hopefully it’s just for a couple of weeks, but then you have someone like Ross Graham stepping in. The depth’s there now.

“We’ve got a lot of young boys in that team and it’s only going to bode well for the future. Things are looking good.

Hawick scrum-half Gareth Welsh in action against Jed-Forest at Riverside Park (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

“Our start kind of set us up. Our defence was spot on. Against Hawks two weeks ago, it was non-existent. We were passive, soft, but the boys have reacted and that’s what got us on the front foot.

“We never felt in danger, but Jed, with the backs they’ve got, they’re always there or thereabouts.”

Jed coach David Grieve, stepping into the breach following the departure of head coach Scott Tomlinson the weekend before, was also pleased with his side’s efforts, saying: “We were disappointed with the margin of the result, but there were phases of that game when we did play really well.

“We looked threatening and it gives us a lot going forward, a lot of positives, but I just thought Hawick were a lot more clinical than us.

Hawick's Andrew Mitchell tackling Jed-Forest's Ben McNeill (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

“They never cut us open much. They had four or five chances and took them, and that was the main difference.”

Looking ahead to Hawick’s remaining games of the regular season prior to the play-offs, at home to seventh-placed Musselburgh this coming Saturday at 3pm and basement side Aberdeen Grammar on Saturday, February 12, followed by a trip to Troon to play second-placed Marr on Saturday, February 19, Muir added: “We’re just concentrating on ourselves, one game at a time.

“It’s Musselburgh next week. We’ll prepare for that and we’ll not look too far in front.

“We just have to take care of our own job and hopefully we can get that home semi-final.”

A trip to table-topping Currie Chieftains is next up for Jed this weekend, with kick-off at 2.30pm.