ALAN LORIMER @ Mansfield Park
BOROUGHMUIR maintained their recent momentum by achieving a bonus point win at Mansfield Park, in a match which pleased neither of the opposing coaches, the former Scotland props, George Graham and Peter Wright.
“That was probably the worst performance from us at Mansfield,” said Hawick’s Graham. “I thought giving them a week off was a good thing but it seems not. We couldn’t build phases, we couldn’t hold on to the ball and we didn’t play with intensity. We fell off too many tackles. Second half we made it easy for them. It’s disappointing to go from playing well against Melrose to this.”
In Hawick’s defence, they were affected by player absences. Their influential back-row Bruce McNeil was injured, and their tight-head prop Nicky Little opted to watch Scotland at Murrayfield. In Little’s absence, Hawick were forced to bring their 37-year-old director of rugby, Garry Douglas, out of retirement and field him against Scotland international Darryl Marfo. The consequence was, shall we say, some difficulty at scrum time both for the players and the referee.
For Boroughmuir’s Wright, there was in many ways a similar sentiment, albeit the former Scotland and Lions tight-head at least had a win to provide some comfort on the way back up the A7.
“Great result coming down here and getting five points,” he said. “What was disappointing was the first half. We just didn’t show any urgency. The game was bitty in the first half. Second half was much better. Jack Steele and Craig Keddie made a difference when they came off the bench.”
Boroughmuir may well have felt they short-changed themselves after failing to convert enormous first half pressure, in which they dominated both possession and territory by huge margins, into a proportional return. As it was, they led 7-0 at the break but left a pile of points out on the pitch.
That Boroughmuir did not manage to flatten the hosts was down to some doughty defence by the Greens. Hawick survived three driven line-outs in the opening ten minutes, but the question being asked around Mansfield Park was: could Hawick maintain this resistance?
The answer came in the 16th minute when from a set scrum in the Greens’ 22m area, Boroughmuir’s blind-side wing Jordan Edmunds waltzed through an indecisive Hawick defence for a try under the posts leaving Gavin Parker with the easiest of conversion kicks.
But thereafter in the first half, in spite of the visitors constantly turning the screw, Hawick’s quick engaging defence and their ability to deal with the driving maul stopped Boroughmuir from adding to their early score, leaving the home side feeling a tad more upbeat about their second half chances.
That optimism, however, was shattered when Edmunds escaped from the Hawick defence before passing to Willie Wardlaw, The centre appeared to have the pace to reach the line but a fine tackle from Andrew Mitchell felled the midfielder, only for the supporting Johnny Matthews to collect the offload and score under the posts, Parker again converting.
Boroughmuir then quickly inflicted another blow, this time Parker breaking clear and then delivering a clever inside pass to Craig Gossman for the quick-footed full-back to race in under the posts, Parker’s attempt at goal again successful.
A fracas behind the posts after the Gossman try, however, resulted in yellow cards for Boroughmuir’s Edmunds and Hawick’s Gary Lowrie, making more room for the remaining 28 players to play open rugby.
It was Hawick who took advantage, the Greens clever handling winning them territory. And when they drove a penalty-created line-out, Edinburgh scrum-half Sean Kennedy finished off a maul with an unconverted try.
Boroughmuir, responded swiftly as Gossman put Parker in at the corner for the bonus point try, the winger, however, failing to convert his own score.
Hawick, to their credit, kept plugging away and when Ali Weir floated a long pass to Mitchell, the teenage centre gave the Greens their second try, converted by Weir, to sweeten a bitter defeat.
Hawick: A Weir; K Davies, A Mitchell, G Walker, K Ford; L Armstrong, S Kennedy; S Muir, M Carryer, G Douglas, D Suddon, D Redpath, G Lowrie, D Davison, S Graham. Subs: C Renwick, T Hope, S Fairbairn, D Lightfoot, K Young.
Boroughmuir: C Gossman; G Parker, W Wardlaw, M Hare, J Edmunds; G Cannie, J Hamilton; D Marfo, J Matthews, D Robertson, W Inglis, S Smith, A Mncube, M Walker, T Drennan. Subs: R Montgomery, R Dunbar, J Steele, M Johnstone, C Keddie.
Referee: M Todd
Hawick: Tries Kennedy, Mitchell; Con: Weir.
Boroughmuir: Tries: Edmunds, Matthews, Gossman, Parker; Cons: Parker 3.
Scoring Sequence (Hawick first): 0-5; 0-7 (h-t) 0-12; 0-14; 0-19; 0-21; 5-21; 5-26; 10-26; 12-26.
Yellow cards –
Man-of-the-Match: Visiting winger Gavin Parker showed the value of time playing in New Zealand contributing to Boroughmuir’s win as a goal kicker, a play-maker and a try scorer. What his optimum position is remains to be seen but he is certainly a useful asset in the Boroughmuir squad.
Talking point: The Premiership is unforgiving and to be without quality front row forwards can be debilitating. Hawick experienced this painful fact against Boroughmuir with a ‘fill-in’ front-row playing against a prop who a year ago was in Scotland’s squad for the 2017 autumn tests. Their front-row problems, however, could ease with the possible return of a former player.