Border League Final: Kelso look to upset the odds as Hawick target a half century

Former Greens captain Bruce McNeil returns to his old Mansfield Park stomping ground

Rory Smith wears the No 4 jersey for Hawick in tonight's Border League Final versus Kelso at Mansfield Park. Image: ©Craig Watson -
Rory Smith wears the No 4 jersey for Hawick in tonight's Border League Final versus Kelso at Mansfield Park. Image: ©Craig Watson -

WITH the toss of a coin handing Hawick home advantage, the Premiership side will start tonight’s Border League Final as hot favourites against a National One outfit Kelso, but it won’t be a walk in the park. The return to Mansfield Park of former Hawick captain Bruce McNeil, who is now player-coach at Poynder, provides a delicious extra sub-plot to this match.

“We have a front-row shortage at the moment,” acknowledged Kelso Director of Rugby Eck Hinnigan, before highlighting that this is just the sort of game where form and reputations go out the window. “It has been a long hard season and we have patched together a squad we believe can win the match and, after all, it’s a Border derby and a final so anything can happen – but we know we must be at our very best to win this one.

“Hawick have not lost at home all season so that’s how big the challenge is,” he added. “However, we have performed well this season in Border derbies with wins against Gala, Melrose and Selkirk, so hopefully that has put us in a good place to push Hawick all the way for this prestigious trophy.

WP Nel cited for allegedly striking an opponent on the head

Super6 Sprint: Fergus Pringle wants Watsonians to build on solid foundations

Super6 Sprint: Pete Horne says Ayrshire Bulls are ready to carry on from where they left off

Meanwhile, Hawick will be keen to erase form of the pain from their Premiership play-off semi-final loss at Marr just over a fortnight ago, a game which had a disappointing outcome for the Mansfield men although their performance underlined the progress Matty Douglas‘ young squad has made over the course of this season.

If the Greens do come out on top them this will be their 50th Border League success, with Melrose on 20 titles a long way back in second place in the roll of honour. Kelso, meanwhile, are chasing their sixth Border League win.

Kick-off is at 7.30pm.

Teams –

Hawick: B Donaldson; M  Tait, A  Mitchell, Glen Welsh, R McKean; K Ford, G Welsh; S Muir, M Carryer, R MacLeod, R Smith, S Frizzell, R Graham, C  Sutherland, S Graham. Subs: T Hope, R Linton, T Huggan, D Lightfoot/J Chelley, C  Riddel, E Stanger, J Delaney.

Kelso: M Wilson; R Combe, D Patterson, F Robson, A Roberts; M Hastie, A Tait; R Wight, E Knox, A Frame, A Common, K Melbourne, G Cessford, K Dryden, B McNeil. Subs: M Thompson, C Arthur, K Gibson, J Walker, C  Thompson, G Millar, B Lyall.

British Army triumph as Melrose Sevens awakens from Covid

About David Barnes 3560 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.