Hawick v Watsonians: Visitors dog it out

Both sides show huge courage in an old-fashioned scrap at Mansfield Park

Bruce McNeil
Bruce McNeil on the ball for Hawick during a tight contest against Watsonians. Image: Kenneth Baillie

Hawick 12

Watsonians 13

ATHOLL INNES @ Mansfield Park

THE fact that this game went ahead was remarkable – but thanks to the efforts of many people, who helped to take the covers off the pitch, it was all systems go at 2 pm. By then, it was almost dark, and the Greens were relieved that the floodlights ensured the match went ahead.

It was remarkable in other ways, too, as brothers Callum and Fraser Renwick, were on opposing sides, as were Stuart and Ross Graham, while Watsonians fielded no fewer than four ex-Hawick players in their team.

In the end, it was a close-run affair with the hosts almost making it three wins in a row…but not quite.


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“The conditions played a part in it,” said Hawick coach George Graham.  “We did not play particularly well in the first half, but Watsonians are a very good side. The game has come at a cost as Shaun Fairbairn has dislocated his shoulder.

“I think we stepped away from what we can do, and near the end, we did not execute our driving play as much as we should have done.”

Meanwhile, Watsonians head coach Steve Lawrie was in a generous mood after seeing his team edge out a win from a game which had the potential to be a major stumbling block in their push to make the play-offs.

“It was a tough game and the effort from both sets of players was  fantastic,” said the recently appointed Super Six coach. “All credit to Hawick for getting that game on. I was glad we came down and it was a tough effort for them. In the end, they could have won it as it was a very fine margin.”

It could be argued that the horrendous conditions made it a level playing field. The driving sleet and rain, as well as a gale-force wind, meant much of the action came from the packs of both sides and defences dug deep to keep their lines intact.

But it was Watsonians who held on in a dramatic finish to clinch a victory despite losing the try count 2-1. Hawick just failed to gain their third win in a row as Lee Armstrong’s difficult conversion kick of Greg Walker’s try in the eighth minute of injury time fell wide and short of the mark.

Hawick, who rejected the offer of players from the pro draft as they felt individuals who had secured back-to-back wins during theist fortnight deserved to be on the field, still proved that local players have a major influence to play in the game.

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Flying start for visitors

Watsonians struck in three minutes when Josh Rowland’s break set up the try for James Miller, which Ewan Fox, who was in the side for the injured Lee Millar, converted.

Play raged from one end to the other with neither side was giving an inch. The rain made handling difficult, but Watsonians maintained the momentum and increased their lead in 28 minutes with a Fox  from in front of the posts after an offside.

Hawick battled hard and were rewarded nine minutes from the interval when Fairbairn burst over the line for a score and Lee Armstrong converted to cut the deficit to three points. Fairbairn then left the field with an injury as Hawick continued to press.

But in injury time of the first half, Watsonians won a penalty, which they kicked to the corner, and then a second penalty for a high tackle led to Fox kicking the goal to give his side a 13-7 interval lead.

The second-half was a stalemate which ran on deep into injury time, and in the last play Hawick have themselves a chance to win it when they kicked a penalty to the right-hand corner and Walker drove over for the try awarded after the referee consulted the touch judge – but it was too far out in the conditions for Armstrong to convert.


SOHO Wealth watsonians
Soho Wealth supports Watsonians FC

Teams – 

Hawick: A Weir; R McKean, K Davies, G Walker, D Lightfoot; L Armstrong, G Welsh; S Muir, M Carryer, N Little, S Fairbairn, D Redpath, D Lowrie, S Graham, B McNeil. Subs: C Renwick, D Johnstone, G Lowrie, J Linton, L Ferguson.

Watsonians: J Rowland; A Chalmers, R Hutton, D Innes R Steele; E Fox, M Scott; F Hobbis, F Renwick, J Stanley, J Hodgson, F Simpson, R Graham, M Fedo, JMMiller. Subs: C Fenton, G Jackson, C McKill, H Fisher, P Cunningham.

Referee: M. Todd.


Scorers –

Hawick: Tries, Fairbairn, Walker;  Con: Armstrong.

Watsonians: Try Miller; Con: Fox; Pens: Fox 2..

Scoring sequence (Hawick first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-10, 5-10; 7-10; 7-13 (h-t) 12-13.


Man-of-the-Match: Everyone who took to the park deserved a medal, but Hawick number eight Bruce McNeil was in his element.

Talking point: Not the sort of the game the SRU performance department will get excited about their players being involved in – but a great test of courage and desire.

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  1. In Saturdays Hawick v Watsonians game four of the Watsonians were ex Hawick players it could have been five if Scott Mcleod had been in the team,doesn’t say much for the youth policy at the Edinburgh club, in Hawick and other border towns youngsters start out in the mini rugby clubs then progress through the different stages to the senior team.
    With the advent of Mark Dodsons Super Six next year and the announcement of the coaches Sean Lineen said that ”It rewards the coaches for investing there time in the game” referring to the six coach appointments, if that’s the case when a player signs for a Super Six club there should be a signing on payment to the player and the club who have developed that player through the early stages of there rugby career should also receive some recompense for as Sean Lineen says ”investing there time in the game”

  2. IT was only on leaving the stand that how bad conditions were for the players became apparent. Sheet ice on the pavement and road made walking to the car park a hazardous undertaking. All roads seemed to have freezing rain causing icy surfaces so hopefully all involved at Mansfield made it home safely.

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