ATHOLL INNES @ Mansfield Park
HAWICK made it three victories in a row, but had to battle hard for success against bottom club Musselburgh on the day captain and prop Shawn Muir made his return after injuring himself in the warm-up against GHA at the start of the season.
It was well into the second half before Hawick gained the try bonus point, to the annoyance of head coach George Graham, and even then Musselburgh were not finished as two late tries gave them a losing bonus point for a brave performance.
“I was disappointed with the last 10 minutes of the first half, and the second,” Graham said. “Our execution was very poor. But that was five points – but we need to take our opportunities and get back to the way we played against Aberdeen and Jed. It was good to get Shawn back and we are just past the halfway mark and we are sitting joint third.”
Graeme Paterson, Musselburgh coach, praised his players for their performance. “We could have been at the end of many points in the first half, but we showed a lot of heart and desire. I thought we put some pressure on them at the end and got a bit of reward. That point could make a difference of staying up or going down at the end of the season.”
Hawick’s Andrew Mitchell burst through the visitors’ defence at pace to touch down in five minutes, but Ali Weir could not convert. The home team maintained the pressure, and after Kirk Ford had been stopped, the Greens drove to the line and Matt Carryer added a second try and this time Weir converted. Lewis Ferguson raced away for what would have been a third score, but was pulled back for a forward pass.
Musselburgh struggled to get into the contest as Hawick dominated possession and were penalised for offside. But their pick-and-drive tactics failed to produce a score after the ball was knocked on. It was one-way traffic as Hawick built momentum, and it was no surprise when Carryer was driven over for his second try and Weir added the conversion.
Musselburgh at last battled into the Hawick 22, and from a penalty award, the visitors kicked to the corner and Colin Arthur was driven over the line to cut the deficit. The touchdown inspired the visitors, who pegged the hosts on the back foot until the interval without adding to the scoreboard.
Musselburgh restarted with a bang and threatened the home line, but Hawick sprinted to the other end where they won a series of penalties which should have brought a score before Ferguson put a foot in touch as the Greens battled for a fourth try. The visitors defended bravely as Hawick mounted attack after attack without a breakthrough, and the pressure seemingly eased when Bruce McNeill was sent to the sin bin with 20 minutes left.
Musselburgh were totally on the defensive, but it took a burst of speed from outside the 22 from Mitchell to add the fourth try and bonus point, Weir kicking the conversion. But Musselburgh were not finished and Michael Maltman scored from close range and Danny Owensen converted and in the final minute they gained a losing bonus point with a Craig Owensen try converted by his brother, more than just reward for all their efforts.
Hawick: K Ford; L Ferguson, A Mitchell, W Griebenow, L Gordon-Wooley; A Weir, Gareth Welsh; R Toogood, M Carryer, D Johnstone, D Suddon, S Fairbairn, J Linton, B McNeil, S Graham, S Fairbairn. Subs: C Renwick, R Toogood, R MacLeod, Glen Welsh, M Bannerman.
Musselburgh: J Doig; S Watt, R Smith, P Cunningham, G Tait; F Roddick, D Owensen; C Owensen, J Crain, C Arthur, W Fleming, C Pryde, M Maltman, M Outram, P Brown. Subs: T Ralls, E Bonthron, J Haynes, G McKinstry, T Foley.
Referee: G. Pounder.
Hawick: Tries: Mitchell 2, Carryer 2. Cons: Weir 3.
Musselburgh: Tries: Arthur, Maltman, C Owensen. Cons: D Owensen 2.
Scoring sequence (Hawick first): 5-0, 10-0, 12-0, 17-0, 19-0, 19-5 (h-t) 24-5, 26-5, 26-10, 26-12, 26-17, 26-19.
Yellow Card –
Man of the Match: Hawick centre Andrew Mitchell scored the first and last try for the victors and his power proved just too much for a brave Musselburgh defence.
Talking point: Musselburgh’s doughty defence for long periods of the game and their ability to counter with two tries of their own.