Premiership: Hawick find their groove to despatch rusty Musselburgh

Three first half tries and resolute second half defensive effort earns bonus pointy win for Borderers

Dalton Redpath carries the ball for Hawick versus Musselburgh. Image: John Durham
Dalton Redpath carries the ball for Hawick versus Musselburgh. Image: John Durham

Musselburgh 0

Hawick 28

DAVID BARNES @ Stoneyhill

FOR the first 20 minutes of this frost-surviving contest, it looked very much like the top-of-the-table defending champions – battle-hardened after a tough hit-out against Currie Chieftains last weekend – were going to steamroll the host side (who had been out of action for the last five weeks).

But Musselburgh recovered from that disorientating start to control possession and territory for significant chunks of the remainder of the match, only to be continually repelled by Hawick’s resolute defence, which has been the defining factor in this team’s success during the last 18 or so months.

“They had a decent scaffolding from their game last week,” reflected Musselburgh head coach Derek O’Riordan afterwards. “We watched the video and that was a really physical battle against Currie, and they carried that into this week, whereas we were a bit rusty and gun-shy in the first half.

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“I thought we were better in the second half, when we came into the game physically, but the damage was done with those three tries before half-time.”

The defeat does not kill off Musselburgh’s hopes of making the play-offs, but that is now reliant on Edinburgh Accies, Heriot’s Blues and Kelso all dropping points.

“We have two games left against Hawks (away next weekend) and Marr (at home the week after), and I am genuinely only concerned about having our best ever finish,” O’Riardan stressed. “Sixth would be huge for us, fifth even better, and the play-offs would be a bonus, but the reality is that is not really in our hands anymore.”

During that early period, Hawick twice threatened to score through powerhouse centre Andrew Mitchell, but on the first occasion he overcooked his kick ahead and sent the ball dead after winning a foot race initiated when Lee Armstrong hacked a dropped Musselburgh pass downfield, and on the second occasion an accidental obstruction meant the try was chalked off.

Then, eventually, the breakthrough came on 13 minutes when Hawick No 8 Stuart Graham did well to tidy up at the base of a creaking scrum right in front of Musselburgh’s posts and deliver clean ball which was transferred along the backline for Kirk Ford to scoot over on the left, for a try which he converted himself, as he did for all four of the Borderers’ touch-downs.

To add to Musselburgh’s woes, they lost influential flanker Michael Maltman to injury at this point, and Hawick struck again six minutes later when Mitchell finally got his score, bursting over the line off a pass from scrum-half Deaglan Lightfoot which looked like it may have drifted slightly forward.

However, just as it was beginning to seem inevitable that Hawick were going to run away with this game, Musselburgh started to get a foothold in the battle for possession, allowing them to build through phases and ask some questions through scrum-half Fionn Call‘s tactical kicking.

The hosts did not manage to trouble the scoreboard operator during the second quarter, but they did slow down the scoring at the other end, until tight-head prop Nicky Little marked his 150th appearance for Hawick with a close range try on the stroke of half-time.


Hawick secured the bonus-point with only five minutes of the second half played when Armstrong intercepted and carried from 22 to 22 before working a scissors to send Morgan Tait over, and that was the end of the scoring.

Musselburgh managed to blow away the cobwebs of their long Christmas/New Year break to mount a sustained onslaught deep inside Hawick’s half, but they were unable to breakdown Hawick’s brick wall defence. While one particular tackle from green flanker Callum Renwick which drove his hapless opponent back 10 yards caught the eye, it was the unity of purpose which really impressed, to provide head coach Matty Douglas with a sense of optimism as we enter the business-end of the season.

“I’m chuffed to bits with that performance,” he said. “I think we maybe left a few opportunities out there in the first half, but credit to the boys for their second half performance playing up the hill and into the conditions … our defence was outstanding.

“Our game is built on defence, and some of the shots we put in, and our energy to get off the line, was phenomenal,” he added. “A lot of players stood up today which we maybe missed a little but last week.

“If I’m honest, we probably dipped in our form a little bit last season after Christmas, so we’ve touched on that this week – that we are on a tough run of three away games so it is just about building confidence and building performance – and I felt we did that today at a difficult place to go.”


Teams –

Musselburgh: P Cunningham (O Craig 46); L Brook (T Foley 46), R Watt, B Heber, S Watt; M McMillan, F Call; C Arthur (D Miller 41), C Owenson, N McNairn (E Bonthron 41), M Badenhorst, J Lister, M Maltman (M Outram 13), M Crawford, P Bogie.

Hawick: K Ford; M Tait, C Welsh, A Mitchell, R McKean (K Brunton 65); L Armstrong, D Lightfoot (G Welsh 41); S Muir, F Renwick (C Renwick 70), N Little (R Graham 58), D Redpath, C Sutherland (S Frizzel 41), D Brooker, C Renwick (R Anderson 58), S Graham.


Scorers –

Musselburgh: No scorers.

Hawick: Tries: Ford, Mitchell, Little, Tait; Cons: Ford 4.

Scoring sequence (Musselburgh first): 0-5; 0-7; 01-12; 0-14; 0-19; 0-21 (h-t) 0-26; 0-28.


Man-of-the-Match: Lee Armstrong’s game management and eye for an opportunity was a big asset at stand-off for Hawick, but this game was won at the pit-face, with Fraser Renwick edging the award, just ahead of Shawn Muir and Start Graham, who were also outstanding on both sides of the ball.

Talking point: Five weeks without a game was a hell of a handicap for Musselburgh to overcome against the dominant club in the Premiership during recent seasons. Season structure is running sore – and there are plenty of other issues needing addressed as a matter of urgency – but surely it is time to come up with a schedule which doesn’t lose momentum so dramatically three-quarters of the way through the campaign.

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About David Barnes 3821 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Also, I don’t think I have seen Iain Milne say he likes Dodson or agrees with him. What he’s trying to get over is there’s more that happens than what you read and my hunch is he’s indirectly pointing fingers at certain club blazers.

    It’s a shame the guys from The Offside Line couldn’t get more access to these types of private meetings so we can work out WHY things aren’t working rather than just using the blame game without full facts.

    • You clearly haven’t read much of Mr Milne’s output on here. He has not only continuously defended Dodson but has even quite ludicrously suggested the implementation of the appalling Super Six had nothing to do with Dodson! Laughable.

      • I think you’ll find he hasn’t. He said the Super Six concept was seriously compromised due to club blazer involvement.

        Maybe you are one of the club blazers he’s referring to!

        For those who don’t have an interest in the old establishment and want to see success for Scotland, it’s people like you who are holding us back.

      • I think you will find he very much said so and then went very quiet when a link was posted proving him very wrong.

        And trying to pretend I must be a “club blazer” and suggesting I am holding the country back in order to justify your other ludicrous claims is frankly laughable. Do you base your understanding of the truth on Donald Trump?

  2. Well done to all at Hawick great on the road win. Know Musselbutgh not had a game for 5weeks. But was the same for Hawick last week. Well done guys. Decent meal at Musselburgh. A all round good day.

  3. It’ll be different next season when Super6 dies a death .
    Where will all those players go ?
    They’ll have to find jobs first
    A right mess Dodsons made of Scottish rugby

    • Have you ever taken time to find out the role the clubs had in this mess we find ourselves in? Our league structure is dated and not fit for purpose and that has nothing to do with Dodson or the SRU.

      • Iain.
        You don’t half speak through a hole in your balaclava .do you never think you could actually be wrong .
        Of course it had all to do with Dodson
        There was nothing wrong with the old Prem 1 format .big crowds .meaningful games .players you actually knew.
        If you were good enough you progressed up the ladder to better things .
        Your pal Dodson ffuckked it all up big time with HIS vision .he couldn’t care less about club rugby .only his baby
        It’s clearly not worked and now he’s scarpered with loads of money siphoned off into his pockets that could have been put to better use .

      • Why don’t you go into the SRU and do something about it Mr Milne? You always have something to say on forums like this or social media but I never see anything worthwhile getting said in the rooms that matter?

      • Mouse.
        Dodson will not be worried one bit about the state he’s left Scottish rugby .
        Only worried about his pockets being lined with as much as he can get .

      • Maybe you need to take your head out of your wee fiefdom and realise it’s not down to one man. Iain Milne has probably been banging his head against the club blazers for years with no change. Social media is his only outlet to effect change but everyone is blinded to thinking it’s all down to Dodson.

        There is too much control by the blazers from the traditional big clubs that no longer provide much to Scottish youth rugby. Darcy G was the last international player to come out of the once great borders yet think how much control these clubs hold over the SRU. Heriot’s school doesn’t care as much about rugby as it used to yet the club holds massive sway.

        There are probably some really good plans that could have been implemented over the last few years that just get voted down in private by the club blazers.


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