Greens boost BT Premiership survival bid

Hawick's Sean Muir is supported by teammate Ross Gibson (picture by Bill McBurnie)
Hawick's Sean Muir is supported by teammate Ross Gibson (picture by Bill McBurnie)

Hawick 27, Boroughmuir 20

In a match of immense importance to both sides at Mansfield Park, Hawick proved they wanted it more.

The Robbie Dyes’ impressive set-piece worked like a boa constrictor, slowly squeezing the life out of their relegation foes, while their defensive sets left little room for Boroughmuir to work as Hawick eventually claimed a fifth successive victory, and fourth with a try bonus-point.

“Great result and performance,” said captain Bruce McNeil. “The only drawback was we allowed them to pick up a losing bonus point in the final seconds of injury time.

“That being said, if you told me at 9am on Saturday that we would win with a try bonus point, and they would get a losing point, I’d have taken that 100 times out of 100.”

The bonus-point win against one of their closest relegation rivals, and a side who dumped 60 points on them in their first meeting earlier this season, extends the Greens advantage over Boroughmuir to seven points and pulls them to within just a point of seventh and sixth place.

The losing bonus point the Meggetland outfit managed to collect in the final seconds of an extended injury time may prove crucial for their faint survival hopes.

“They weren’t as bad as their record suggests, said McNeil. “They are not a team who have only won three games – they are much better than that. So just because we won does not mean we can slack off now. It’s on to the next game.

“We need to continue these types of performances because they are capable of still catching us. They picked up that try in the final seconds after they had us under pressure for what felt like ages. They kept pounding away and got that try. They worked hard and got what they wanted in the end.”

A pair of scrum penalty tries before halftime proved to be the decisive moment for the Robbie Dyes as they claimed a 17-8 half-time lead, following an earlier Lee Armstrong penalty. Dale Robertson touched down, with Chris Laidlaw adding a penalty for the visitors.

The Meggetland outfit ate into the Greens half-time advantage with a score from Jordan Edmunds but, rather than consolidating and protecting their slender lead, Hawick went on the attack,

Bruce McNeil and Fraser Renwick dotted down to hand the Greens the try bonus point and a 27-13 lead. As the clock shifted to red, Hawick, under immense pressure from the visitors, eventually buckled in the eighth of what would be nine minutes of injury time.

Rob Ure touched down from close range and Kieran Whyte converted to give Boroughmuir their losing bonus point.

“Our set-piece has held up well recently and everyone knows that is what we are going to go to,” added McNeil. “With the pack performing the way they are, that is essentially our game plan and we executed it well.

“We wanted to bully them in the scrums and tire them out, and we did for much of the afternoon. But, as the game went on, they went to uncontested scrums, which was a smart move by (Boroughmuir head coach) Peter Wright, and it was a bit of a momentum shifter for them.

“ They managed to stop what we were doing best and got themselves back into the game. They eventually got their try and bonus point. We are pleased with the result but it’s now on to the next, we can’t slow down.”

Afterwards, Peter Wright also praised Hawick’s performance, saying they were outstanding in the second half and put Boroughmuir under intense pressure.

It was a fair result and Hawick had wanted it more, he said, adding they had gone from the being the worst team in the league at the start of the season to a transformation under coach George Graham. They had won five games in a row and form like that meant they deserved to stay in the Premiership.

Hawick: D. Graham, Combe, Davies, Buckley, Munro, Armstrong, Cottrell, Muir, Carryer, Little, Redpath, Hamilton, S.Graham, Hardie, McNeil. Replacements: Renwick, Landles, Baillie, Gibson, Weir.