ATHOLL INNES @ Philiphaugh
HAWICK dominated up front to maintain their recent fine form, but the hosts battled hard to the final whistle in this Premiership challenge between third and fourth in the table, on a soft Philiphaugh pitch following several periods of heavy rain in the preceding seven days.
Hawick coach George Graham praised his players for their performance after the break. “I thought we had never left Mansfield in the first 20 minutes of the game and they put us under a lot of pressure,” he said. “We managed to control it better in the second half, and to win here and not play well is a big statement for me.”
It was Selkirk who made the perfect start from a line-out move, with Henry Bithray breaking the defence before sending Josh Welsh over for a try in the right-hand corner. Callum Anderson’s conversion came back off the post.
The hosts then continued to put Hawick on the back foot and 16 minutes had been played before the visitors gained some control and got back on level terms when the forwards powered over the line for Bruce McNeil to score. Ali Weir kicked the conversion for a 7-5 lead.
The Hawick pack started to gain control and it was no surprise when, after a series of attacks, the Greens swung the ball wide through several hands and Kirk Ford found space to go over in the right-hand corner. Weir’s conversion attempt fell short.
On the stroke of half-time, Weir’s penalty from 30 metres fell short and Hawick turned round 12-5 ahead at the interval.
Selkirk missed a chance to cut the gap soon after the restart when Anderson pulled a penalty wide of the posts, but they were not to be denied and Peter Forrest, who had replaced Bruce Riddell, was at the bottom of a forwards’ try. Anderson missed the conversion and Selkirk counted the cost when Weir stretched the Hawick lead with a penalty from in front of the posts at the other end.
Hawick pressed on, and after Scott McClymont was yellow carded, they were awarded a penalty try to make it 22-10.
Selkirk kept battling and Aaron McColm closed gap with a try, but again the conversion was missed and the hosts had to settle for a losing bonus point.
Hawick: K Ford; L Ferguson, A Mitchell, W Griebenow, L Gordon-Wooley; A Weir, G Welsh; S Muir, C Renwick, D Johnstone, A Piotrowski, D Suddon, S Graham, Bruce McNeil, J Linton. Subs: M Carryer, C Bachurzewski, S Fairbairn, Billy McNeil, B Donaldson.
Selkirk: H Bithray; J Welsh, L Berte, R Nixon, R Cottrell; C Anderson, A McColm; L Pettie, J Bett, B Riddell, A Mackay, D Nichol, J Mackay, E Macdougall, S McClymont. Subs: H Borthwick, S Rankin, P Forrest, L Morelle, C McNeil.
Referee: J Perriam
Selkirk: Tries: Welsh, Forrest, McColm.
Hawick: Tries, Bruce McNeil, Ford, Penalty Try; Con: Weir; Pen: Weir.
Scoring sequence (Selkirk first): 5-0; 5-5; 5-7; 5-12 (h-t) 10-12; 10-15; 10-20; 10-22; 15-22.
Yellow Cards –
Selkirk: Scott McClymont.
Man-of-the-Match: Hawick loose-head Shawn Muir, whose driving force inspired the pack and set a captain’s example on a day and pitch which lent itself to a forwards’ battle.
Talking point: The penalty try which took Hawick out of reach of a strong Selkirk challenge, but it was almost inevitable after a series of penalties to the visitors.