Late Christmas present as Hawick steal trophy

Jed-Forest 29, Hawick 31

Thursday, 29th December 2016, 10:30 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 2:02 pm
Hawick's scrum half Bruce Campbell breaks loose against blue-clad Jed-Forest at Riverside (picture by Bill McBurnie)

A late Lee Armstrong score sank Jed-Forest and infused Hawick with hope for the rest of the season, when the sides met at Riverside in a hastily-rearranged Skelly Cup match last night.

The Greens almost did their best to throw it away – and could have, had the home defence not tired and allowed Armstrong to produce his heroics – but Hawick held out to produce a climax which could scarcely have been expected by the supporters who waited an extra two days to watch the Skelly Cup clash, following Boxing Day’s postponement.

Early scores from Stuart Graham and Conor Gracie, with Neil Renwick converting one, gave the Greens a 12-3 half time lead. Jed fought back after the break to take a 29-24 lead into the final five minutes, with touchdowns from Bruce Campbell and a second from Grace, while Renwick added a single conversion in reply for Hawick, before Armstrong struck to level the scores and Renwick converted to give the Robbie Dyes a 31-29 victory.

“We were nowhere near our best but we got there in the end,” said Hawick captain Bruce McNeil after the game. “Most of the boys were probably still sitting round the Christmas dinner table, I think.

“Our defence wasn’t great and, against a Jed side like that, they punish you, and that’s what they did.

“It wasn’t pretty but we got ourselves a good win over a good side and that is valuable for us moving forward.”

Jed-Forest were looking for a signature win over a rival they hope to replace in the BT Premiership next season. Jed had won

14 out of their 16 games this term – five out of their last six – but fell behind early after Greens backrower, Stuart Graham, nipped over from close range and Renwick added the conversion.

Jed regrouped and hit back with a penalty but Gracie restored Hawick’s healthy advantage with the first of his two scoring efforts that gave the Greens a 12-3 interval advantage.

Hawick were not wielding anything close to the potent attack which has seen them lodge 41 and 31 points in their previous three contests, but their opportunism opened doors and brought them a third score after the break through Campbell, after an earlier Jed converted try pulled the hosts within two points.

At 19-10, Hawick seemed comfortable, particularly as Jed struggled to deal with the Greens domination of set pieces, but it was the hosts who scored next, registering their second converted score.

As Jed chased the game, Hawick’s offence opened a hole for Gracie to allow the Greens to move back into a double-figure lead. The Robbie Dyes were worth their lead but they are nothing if not unreliable with late-game advantages.

Jed eventually found some form to level the scores with another converted touchdown before taking their first lead with a fourth try, conversion missed. This began a tortuous final few minutes which were rescued by Armstrong’s late heroics and Renwick’s nerve-ending conversion.