Hawick finished third in the Tennent’s Premiership this season, behind only Currie Chieftains and Marr, and Kelso went into Wednesday’s game sitting sixth in the tier below, Tennent’s National League Division 1, but only four points separated them after 80 minutes’ play, the Greens edging it 18-14 at their Mansfield Park home ground.
Ex-Hawick captain McNeil, with the Teries for most of 2003 to 2020, told Borders Rugby TV: “We got here on merit. We beat a lot of really good teams to get here, so we knew that we deserved to be here.
“To be within a few points of one of the best teams in amateur rugby is a massive plus for us, but we’re obviously bitterly disappointed.
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“I just think they maybe had the luck of the bounce a couple of times and they were certainly more clinical.
“They put us under a lot of pressure at set-pieces and it took a toll on us. They were deserved winners.
“It’s one of the hardest places to come in Scottish rugby, but our boys can hold their heads up high and we can take a lot from that, that we can come to places like this and mix it with one of the best teams in Scottish rugby.”
Kelso beat Melrose and Selkirk to get to the final in pursuit of their sixth Border League title and first since 1987.
Hawick, due to Gala and Peebles pulling out of their pool, only had Jed-Forest to knock out to claim a place in the oldest rugby union league competition of its kind in the world’s first final since 2019, securing their 50th title overall and first since 2015.
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