ALAN LORIMER @ Mansfield Park
HAWICK hauled themselves off the foot of the BT Premiership table after achieving an inspired win over a Glasgow Hawks side containing two professionals and several BT Academy level three players. Moreover, Hawick were without their regular scrum-half Bruce Campbell who was forced to miss the match because of illness. In the event Grant Huggan filled in and did very well, suggesting that the Hawick teenager, who normally turns out at stand-off or centre, may have a future in the number nine position.
Behind a Hawick pack that battled hard to overcome their heavier opponents, winger Darcy Graham dazzled with his quick footwork to add fizz to the Greens’ backline.
Ultimately the difference was the accurate goal kicking of stand-off Ali Weir, who slotted three conversions and a penalty goal, missing only one shot at gaol off the tee, in contrast to George Horne for Hawks, who succeeded with only one shot.
Hawks skipper Tommy Spinks conceded that his side had been beaten by a very good performance from the Greens. He said : ““There was no shame in losing this game, Hawick played outstandingly well.”
Arguably Hawks blew it. Having had the better of the exchanges in the set-piece and having looked potent in the driving maul and in their short-pass game, Hawks failed to capitalise on this advantage. And, moreover, having built up a 17-7 lead at the beginning of the second half they allowed Hawick to come back into the game and dominate the rest of the second half.
With five minutes played Hawick found themselves five points ahead with a skilful score from Graham from line-out possession and a clever diagonal chip kick by centre Rory Hutton. From the touchline, stand-off Ali Weir found just enough power to kick the difficult conversion kick.
Hawks quickly replied after stand-off Hagen Schultz had fired a penalty kick up the touchline. From the resultant line-out Hawks’ forwards drove collectively and when this was stopped illegally by Hawick, George Horne took a quick tap penalty, and the move ending with flanker Ross Miller crashing over from short range and Horne adding the extras.
Then, when Hawick turned up the heat with a territory-gaining kick by centre Gary Johnstone, a score looked likely only for Horne to race back and then step the oncoming Hawick attackers to underline his value to the Glasgow team.
Hawks had been using their heavier forward pack to good effect and when the front eight won a scrum penalty Horne seemed set to reward the big men, but the ball, obligingly for Hawick, rebounded off the near upright.
But the dividend finally came for the visitors forwards when Hawks drove another penalty-created line-out to give flanker Andy Hill perhaps the easiest score of his career. This time Horne was wide with his conversion attempt, but Hawks had the advantage at half time with a 12-7 interval lead.
Hawks, having come desperately close to scoring just before the break quickly atoned for their miss with an explosive start that ended with centre Brendan McGroarty brushing aside two attempted tackles before crashing over in the corner for unconverted try.
In the aftermath of the score a stromash developed resulting in a yellow card shown to Hawick’s skipper Bruce McNeil . But soon after Hawks, too, were reduced to fourteen players when replacement Stephen Leckey was yellow carded for an off-the-ball offence, allowing Weir to kick a penalty goal.
Minutes later Weir had another penalty attempt in front of the posts but this time his kick from 45 metres out was just short. But Hawick now were playing with confidence and their fast running backs were making inroads to the Hawks red zone.
The reward came nine minutes from full time from a kick ahead by Lee Armstrong. Darcy Graham chased swiftly and when the Hawks defence failed to gather the ball, the Scotland Under-20s winger gained possession to cross for his second try again converted by Weir to level the scores,
Encouraged by this score, Hawick harvested more points. From a line-out just outside the Hawks’ 22m area, Hawick went through a succession of pick ad drive phases that ended with prop Shaun Muir forcing his way over for his side’s third try, Weir coolly adding the conversion goal for a 24-17 lead.
Hawks tried desperately to score the equalising try but faulty handling close to the line coast the Anniesland side dear leaving Hawick worthy winners and now with raised hopes of maintaining their Premiership membership.
Hawick: L Armstrong; D Graham, R Hutton, G Johnstone, K Ford; A Weir, G Huggan; S Muir, F Renwick, C Mackintosh, D Lowrie, K McNeil, R Gibson, S Graham, B McNeil. Subs: M Landels, G Douglas, S Fairbairn, K Brunton, W Hamilton.
Glasgow Hawks: R Houliston; J Bulumakau, R Beattie, B McGroarty, K Gossman; H Schulte, G Horne; S Findlay, C Fenton, G Strain, A Linton, A Kirkland, R Miller, A Hill, T Spinks Subs S Rodgers, C Barnes, S Leckey, D Milne, P Boyer.
Referee: D Sutherland
Hawick: Tries D Graham 2, Muir ;Cons: Weir 3; Pen: Weir.
Hawks Tries Miller, Hill, McGroarty; Con: Horne.
Scoring Sequence (Hawick first): 5-0, 7-0, 7-5, 7-7, 7-12 (HT) 7-17, 10-17, 15-17, 17-17, 22-17, 24-17
Yellow cards –
Hawick: B McNeil x 2
Red Cards –
Man-of-the-Match: Pacy Hawick wing Darcy Graham capped another compelling display with two tries, but throughout the game he added a certain fizz to the Hawick attack.
Talking Point: Yet again Hawick lost out on the pro draft but in the end that mattered little for the Greens whose survival instinct conquered all. A great game of rugby which suggests rugby in the Borders is not yet a write-off.