Updated: Head coach Matty Douglas delighted to see Hawick hit half-century of Border League wins after edging out Kelso

Hawick’s Matty Douglas has told of his pride at securing a second bit of silverware in his first season as head coach after the Greens’ Border League final victory against Kelso last night, April 13.

Hawick celebrating winning the 2022 Border League final 18-14 against Kelso last night (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Hawick celebrating winning the 2022 Border League final 18-14 against Kelso last night (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

His side, playing at home at Mansfield Park, ground out an 18-14 victory against their Tennent’s National League Division 1 opposition.

That takes them up to the half-century mark of final wins in the competition, 30 more than second-best Melrose, 38 more than third-placed Gala and 10 times as many as Kelso.

It also gives them a second prize to accompany the Bill McLaren Shield already in their trophy cabinet following a Tennent’s Premiership season that saw them finish in third place, with 62 points from 18 games, and make it to the play-off semi-finals, losing 17-10 away to Marr at the end of March.

Head coach Matty Douglas, third from left, and the rest of Hawick's coaching team holding the Border League Cup (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Hawick’s tries in the final were scored by Stuart Graham and Shawn Muir, with Kirk Ford adding a conversion and two penalties.

On the scoresheet for Kelso were Colin Arthur, on loan from Musselburgh, with a try and Dwain Patterson with three penalties.

“It was just a typical Border derby – there’s no other words to describe it,” said Douglas.

“We were probably not at our best. We found a way to win, but you could tell we hadn’t played for a few weeks.

Hawick club president Neil Hamilton and team Captain Matt Carryer holding the Border League Cup (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

“We’re carrying a lot of injuries but we got the win so we’re extremely pleased.

“We’ve just had a bit of a break since the Marr game and we’ve had to try and pick the boys up. That’s been the biggest challenge. After the defeat at Marr, it was quite a hard one, but it’s just been a case of getting everyone ready. We managed to get it right last night but performance-wise it wasn’t the best.

“For XVs, we’ve had two training sessions in the last three weeks so it’s not been the best preparation.

“That’s us won the Border League for the 50th time so it’s great for us as a squad at the end of a great season.

Andrew Mitchell on the ball for Hawick against Kelso in last night's Border League final (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

“Last night kind of summed up how our season went – we find ways to win even if we’re not playing our best.

“Credit to everybody that was playing last night, they got the win.”

Members of Douglas’s squads playing in this year’s Kings of the 7s tournament will be keeping busy for the next couple of months, but the rest of his squad will now be downing tools until they start getting ready for their next premiership campaign.

“That’s us until pre-season XVs-wise. Obviously we’ve still got sevens, so the sevens boys will be keeping going another month or so and then we’ll be back end of June time, I would say, and hopefully get a good pre-season in.”

Vice-captain Shawn Muir in action for Hawick against Kelso in last night's Border League final (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Given their success this season, Douglas is hoping to keep his squad intact as far as possible for next time round, he says, though he’s lost one player to the semi-professional game, Corey Tait, and another, Rory Smith, to retirement.

“At the minute, we’ve lost one player to Super6 – Corey Tait, our 18-year-old hooker, is off to Boroughmuir Bears – and Rory Smith in our middle row is retiring, but, touch wood, apart from that, that’s it,” he told us.

“The Southern Knights were after a couple of boys but they’re happy with their rugby at Hawick at the minute. I’m not saying they won’t be back to try to poach some more boys in pre-season, but when you see the likes of Marr and Currie Chieftains, they’ve lost a lot of boys since the final, so I think we’ve been lucky.

“If we can keep this squad of players and we can add to it, we should be in a good place come pre-season.

“I think that probably sums up where we are as a club at the moment, that boys want to stay and play at Hawick.

“The Knights are always going to be coming for our better players. They have to be, because below them, and results don’t lie, we’re the next best team in the Borders.

Ex-Hawick stalwart Bruce McNeil on the charge for Kelso in last night's Border League final at Mansfield Park (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

“They’ll be wanting players from our team but I think, at the minute, the boys understand what we’re trying to achieve at Hawick, what we’re trying to build, and it’s all younger players that are coming through, so it’s probably a stepping stone now. Yes, we’ve had a good season but we’ve got to be kicking on now. I don’t want it to end here. I don’t want us to have one good season and then go back to having two bad seasons.

“We have to really work hard in the off-season and just put a few things right before we go again.”

Looking back over his first season in charge of Hawick, the 27-year-old says the biggest lessons he’s learnt are that nothing can be achieved without hard work or trust.

“I think the main things I’ve learnt are that hard work pays off and you’ve got to have trust in the players that you give a chance to.

“I’ve given a lot of boys their league debuts this season and given younger players a chance and that’s got us some big results this season.

“I’ve trusted in younger players to deliver and they have.”

One of Douglas’s priorities for next season, he says, is to improve his team’s results on the road.

“Our away form hasn’t matched our home form,” he said.

“Away from home, we’re maybe lacking a bit of experience and need some cool heads in there. Sometimes away from home you need a couple of older boys in there and that’s maybe a factor.

“It’s something we need to get right as a squad – to take our home form on the road – and I genuinely think we’re capable of that. We need to get that right.

“It’s also a mindset thing. We didn’t beat any of the top four in the league away from home but we beat them all at home, so that’s something we need to fix going into next season.”

See also …

Hawick middle-row player Tom Huggan proudly holding aloft the Border League Cup (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Hawick captain Matt Carryer with head coach Matty Douglas (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Hawick second-row player Rory Smith is retiring in style after helping his side win the Border League final against Kelso (Photo: Bill McBurnie)
Hawick scrum-half Gareth Welsh being tackled by Kelso's Murray Hastie (Photo: Bill McBurnie)