Premiership: Hawick dig deep to squeeze past Heriot’s Blues

Tense and entertaining encounter at Goldenacre showcases what club game in Scotland can offer

Jae Linton on the charge for Hawick versus Heriot's Blues. Image: Malcolm Grant
Jae Linton on the charge for Hawick versus Heriot's Blues. Image: Malcolm Grant

Heriot’s Blues 17

Hawick 19

ALAN LORIMER @ Goldenacre

IN the annals of Scottish rugby, matches between Heriot’s and Hawick at Goldenacre must rank as some of the most memorable in the sport, and while the latest iteration might not have had international stars like Andy Irvine and Jim Renwick to light up the game, it nevertheless had sufficient excitement to send supporters home feeling they had watched another decent spectacle. 

Ultimately, Hawick prevailed in a game that ended even in terms of tries with one conversion separating the two teams. Narrow though it was, it was still an important win for defending champions Hawick who complete their Premiership schedule against Selkirk next Saturday.

Both teams came into the match with different problems; Hawick were missing key forwards while Heriot’s were playing their first league game in six weeks. And for both teams their deficiencies were exposed. Hawick’s set-piece suffered to the extent that they could hardly win a line-out ball in the first half and even their much vaunted scrum came under extreme pressure.


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“We won but Heriot’s were really good today,” admitted Hawick coach, Matty Douglas. “That’s one of the biggest packs we’re likely to come up against in the league.”

But Douglas argued that the lack of seasoned second-rows in the team hurt the Greens performance. “We had to make a lot of forced changes this week which affected our line-out,” he added. “We were off it a bit at scrum time. That was frustrating. But credit to the boys, in the second half they were outstanding. That’s us chopped off three away games on the bounce.

“The guys got a rocket at half-time because their play wasn’t up to the level of last week. It showed in the second half. We were a totally different side. Credit to Heriot’s – they fought their way back in the second half but defensively we were bang on. But we left tries out there,” concluded Douglas.

Meanwhile, Heriot’s coach, Phil Smith, whose side is chasing the fourth play-off place, expressed mixed sentiments.

“It was three tries all at the end and only one conversion in it,” he said. “They came out in the second half and really went for it and we struggled at that point, but we held on. In the last five minutes we felt we could win the game.

“We perhaps looked like a team that’s not thrown a ball for six weeks. But I don’t want to keep accepting that. We’ve got two important games coming up. We’ve got to win our next two games for a chance of being in the top four.”

Heriot’s, having enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, looked the more likely side to chalk up the first score, and this perception became reality following a scrum penalty and then a line-out maul try attributed to Blues’ hooker Rory Jackson.

Hawick’s hurt was quickly sublimated into an immediate reply, aided by Heriot’s faulty exit from the restart kick. From the ensuing line-out, Hawick attacked with repeated surges at the Blues’ line, finally securing the points they required with a short-range try from Fraser Renwick, converted by Kirk Ford.

The visitors had a second chance to capitalise on powerful driving in the red zone only for an obstruction to ruin what seemed to point to a further score. Then, just before the interval, Hawick again attacked from a line-out but this time the thwarting factor was Heriot’s tight defence that managed to repel the Greens’ efforts to reach beyond the try line, leaving the visitors with a slender two points lead going into the break .

 

If Hawick had looked a tad somnolent in the opening minutes of the game then they certainly cast aside that image at the beginning of the second half, the visitors making an instant breakthrough with a spectacular try by Calum Renwick, which came from clever work on the touchline by Stuart Graham and then a decisive break by Lee Armstrong.

Ford’s second conversion success gave Hawick a 14-5 lead, an advantage that seemed to energise the Greens to a further try, this time scored in the corner by Morgan Tait after the forwards had done the softening-up work close to the line.

Very much to their credit, Heriot’s bounced back from this double setback and after a strong carry by second-row Malachy Keough, stand-off Luke Townsend moved the ball wide to allow power winger Cammy Meager to dive in at the corner for an unconverted try.

Now it was time for Heriot’s to feed off their scoring success with a third try, from adventurous handling play by the Goldenacre men, a surge by Rory Kirkpatrick and strong finishing from Keough. After missing the previous two conversion attempts, Townsend was on target with his third kick at the posts to put his side within two points of Hawick.

But any hopes Heriot’s had of making a late charge were extinguished by a Hawick side which knew how to run down the clock to seal a narrow but important win, taking a further step forward in pursuit of a second Premiership title.

 

Teams –

Heriot’s Blues: R Steele; P Christie, R Jones, K Kutsuna, C Meager; L Townsend, G Wilson; A Munro, R Jackson, S Cessford, N Doherty, M Keough, J Hill, R Kirkpatrick, A Johnston©. Subs: F Thomas, B Dineen, P Spence, A Hunter, H Hitchen.

Hawick: K Ford; M Tait, C Welsh, A Mitchell, R Purvis; L Armstrong, D Lightfoot; S Muir©, F Renwick, N Little, S Frizzel, J Linton, D Brooker, C Renwick, S Graham. Subs: R Anderson, R Macleod, M Brogan, G Welsh, K Brunton.

Referee: Ian Kenney

 

Scorers –

Heriot’s Blues: Tries: Jackson, Meager, Keough; Con: Townsend.

Hawick: Tries: F Renwick, C Renwick, Tait; Cons: Ford 2.

Scoring Sequence (Heriot’s first): 5-0; 5-5; 5-7 (h-t) 5-12; 5-14; 5-19; 10-19; 15-19; 17-19.

 

Man-of-the-Match: In a match full of action, all players deserve plaudits for their contributions notably Malchy Keough, second-row partner Patrick Spence and back-row Rory Kirkpatrick for Heriot’s, as well as stand-off Lee Armstrong, full-back Kirk Ford and hooker Fraser Renwick for Hawick. But Calum Renwick‘s try for the Greens in the second half demonstrated alertness, excellent support and sheer pace to make the dynamic flanker MOTM.

Talking point: If club rugby can maintain the standards shown by Heriot’s and Hawick then the game should not be short of new adherents whether in the stand or on the pitch. Moreover it bodes well for further excitement in the play-offs.


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About Alan Lorimer 369 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.

19 Comments

  1. Hawick squeaked a win here and will have to be careful in future as they let a good lead slip away against Currie two weeks ago and nearly did the same at Heriots thanks to the normally excellent Graham Wilson missing a conversion. Selkirk will be up for the Greens this coming weekend though after their good result yesterday. But, full marks to both teams for putting on a great display of club rugby at Goldenacre.

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  2. Why why do sided like hawick have to pay for heriols super6 rugby. Take a look at yourself.

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      • Andy Black.
        SRU will have no money to waste on a disaster like S6
        Dodson has left them many Millions in debt .
        It will have to cut its losses and ditch loss makers which S6 is number 1
        And he’s buggeerred off to the Post Office (to sort it out )

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    • Hawick probably pay more that super 6! And let’s be honest, they are probably better team than most of the Super 6 teams!

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      • Rugby Reader.
        Wheres your evidence of paying more than S6
        You can’t just make things up without facts .

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  3. Club Rugby is the soul of Scottish Rugby . Champions performance from Hawick pushed all the way by Heriots . Great game , Hawick powering on 19 5 up and Heriots clawing their way back into the game with 2 great tries . Heriots supporters disappointed Hawick supporters relieved and proud . Thank you “ Club Rugby “

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  4. No lights shame Heriots need to charge a conssesion £10. Entry but that’s rugby these days invest in your ground don’t rip spectators off. It will bite you back.

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    • Curious to understand your reasoning behind £10 for an exciting game of rugby being a rip-off? Paid a lot more to see a lot less entertainment in the past personally, have no issue with that fee myself

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