Premiership: Hawick edge past Marr in top of table clash

Andrew Mitchell and Shawn Muir tries see Mansfield men home

Calum Renwick carries for Hawick versus Marr. Image: Malcolm Grant
Calum Renwick carries for Hawick versus Marr. Image: Malcolm Grant

Hawick 21

Marr 15

DAVID BARNES @ Mansfield Park

HAWICK did it the hard way. They dominated territory and possession for long spells during this keenly contested top of the table clash, but struggled to convert that into points on the scoreboard, and it was just a little bit too close for comfort for the reigning champions at the end. 

Marr had to make do with a losing bonus-point, no mean achievement at Mansfield Park, and visiting head coach Kenny Diffenthal didn’t have too many complaints afterwards, although he pointed out that the line-out which led to Shawn Muir‘s match securing try was very squint.

“We worked really hard on our ‘D’ this week and that showed because we were really great defensively, but we just didn’t fire a shot,” he said. “We just seemed to hang onto their coat-tails and couldn’t get into the game. They starved us of the ball and the few times we got into our shape we managed to stress them a little bit but we didn’t hold onto the ball long enough to get points from it.”

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Meanwhile, Hawick head coach Matty Douglas was pleased and slightly relieved to get a result which keeps his side on course of finish at the summit of the table and  exorcised some of the demons of the Borderers’ only loss in the last 18 months when they visited Fullarton back in September, but was frustrated at the lack of precision in attack.

“It was a win with about 95 percent possession,” he shrugged. “I think we gifted them a lot of points with five penalties. At times we switched off individually but take nothing away from the overall performance – defensively we were outstanding. Some of the hits going in were unreal. That’s what we are about, we build our game round our defence.

“The talk this week was we win the game and it didn’t matter whether it was by a single point or 50 points,” he added. “The manner of our defeat at Troon hurt and the boys rolled their sleeves up. We had to do it nitty-gritty, it was never going to be running in tries in the corners. The forwards played a massive role, the set-piece was outstanding, especially the scrum.

“Marr are second in the league, they are really good defensively and well coached so I’m really happy with the team performance – we probably just need to be a little bit more accurate individually and try not to give as many penalties away.”

Marr took an early lead after Lee Armstrong instinctively stuck out a hand to grab the side-stepping Calum Smith by the collar, and although he recognised his error and released his grip almost immediately it was a fair penalty which Colin Sturgeon happily turned into three points.

Hawick struck back in fine style with Jae Linton tidying up scrappy scrum ball on his team’s 10-metre line and feeding it straight to his backline, Armstrong – who had already shown a couple of times that he was in the mood – danced clear, then fed Andrew Mitchell, who made easy work of beating the last man to run it home from 35-yards.

A second Sturgeon penalty following a Hawick high tackle reduced the deficit to just one point on 23 minutes, but the home side were soon back on the offensive with Linton collecting a high ball at exactly the same time as being clobbered by Ben Johnston and showcasing his awesome power by bouncing the Marr flanker to trigger a move which featured another mazy run from Armstrong, supported by Calum Renwick, before Charlie Welsh failed to hold on to Kyle Brunton‘s cut-out pass with the line at his mercy.

Marr looked rattled, treating the ball like a hot potato and coughing up possession, although a lack of conviction at a couple of breakdowns and a some loose passing by Hawick delayed the next home score, which eventually arrived in the shape of a long-range offside penalty by Kirk Ford that landed on the crossbar and bounced over on 38 minutes.

Having worked so hard and dominated territory for so long to earn those three points, it will have been a source of significant frustration in the home ranked that they immediately conceded another high tackle penalty, with Dalton Redpath the culprit this time, which meant Sturgeon was able to take his and his team’s tally to nine points at the break.


Hawick continued to dominate in the third quarter but couldn’t find the killer pass, not even after Redpath had burst the line with powerful surge from halfway, and they had to make do with another Ford penalty, this time after Marr were guilty of not rolling away from the tackle.

A golden opportunity for the home side went begging when Greg Montgomery got caught out by the bounce of Ford’s kick into space and Linton ended up in possession, only for is offload out of contact to float harmless into Marr hands. That passage did, however, establish the field position from which Hawick finally rumbled a line-out maul to within striking distance for Shawn Muir to get that long-awaited second try with just over 10 minutes to go

Marr had their first visit to their opponents’ 22 since the break straight from the restart, only for Hawick to turn possession over at a  line-out maul five yards from the home try-line.

But the visitors dug deep and got back into the strike zone, and although they were then pushed all the way back to near Hawick’s 10-metre line by a series of thunderclap green tackles, they did well to keep hold of possession and eventually harvested a penalty – with a yellow card shown to Linton far an off the ball challenge – which Sturgeon slotted to put his side side in bonus-point territory.

It looked briefly liked Hawick were going to deprive the brave visitors of even that consolation when Marr were penalised for a side entry and Ford kicked the points, but Marr bounced right back to earn another kickable penalty – and a tip-tackle yellow card for Ross Graham – which Sturgeon coolly sent home in the last action of the game.


Teams –

Hawick: K Ford; C Welsh, A Mitchell, L Armstrong, R McKean (G Welsh 78); K Brunton, D Lightfoot (B Scott 52); S Muir, R Anderson (R Graham 45), N Little (T Hope 71), D Redpath, C Sutherland, S Graham, C Renwick (F Wilson 66-77), J Linton.

Marr: C Inglis (G Montgomery 63-66); S Bickerstaff, G Paxton, C Bickerstaff, J Jacobson; C Sturgeon, G Baird (v 73); B Sweet, S Reekie (G Dick 71), A Rogers, D Andrew (C Folan 55), C Young, C Smith (B Johnston 66), B Johnston (K Vallance 60), B Jardine.

Referee: David Young


Scorers –

Hawick: Tries: Mitchell, Muir; Con: Ford 2; Pen: Ford 3.

Marr: Pen: Sturgeon 5.

Scoring sequence (Hawick first): 0-3; 5-3; 7-3; 7-6; 10-6; 10-9 (h-t) 13-9; 18-9; 18-12; 21-12; 21-15.


Yellow cards –

Hawick: Linton (77 mins), Graham (79 mins)


Man-of-the-Match: He’s a back-row playing in the engine-room and he punches well above his weight. Connor Sutherland carried hard, was one of several big tacklers in the home pack and did a lot of unseen work at ruck and maul.

Talking point: No quarter was asked or given in this ferocious contest. In the end, the Marr coaching team conceded it was a fair result, but they can take a lot from the resilience shown which will stand the Troon men in good stead during the run-in to the play-offs. Hawick, meanwhile, will be unstoppable if they can match their defensive efforts with a bit more sharpness in attack … although Kelso (riding high after their dramatic win over Heriot’s Blues) away, Edinburgh Accies at home and Currie Chieftains away over the next three weeks will be keen to test that theory.

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About David Barnes 3817 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. Hawick were yet again very poor. But it says alot for a team who not firing can still win. Marr in all honesty.never looked like scoring a try. Say a lot about the guys playing for Hawick. Hawick will click. And woebetide who in front of them when they do.

      • You really don’t have a clue do you? Of course Premiership sides will be weakened if you take the best players out to play the not-so-Super Six. Put them back into a meaningful rugby competition played by meaningful rugby clubs and it would be vastly different. It really isn’t rocket science.

      • AngryGala2
        Were you there .?
        If not don’t comment .
        Stick to your 2 men and a dog sticking plaster games in Stupid 6

      • No one is forcing the super series players to play at those clubs my dear little Alan, they do so by choice.

        If the premiership is so meaningful, why are so many players not sticking to their home sides and leaving for the super duper series? Surely a strong sense of identity would prevent these players from wanting to leave.

        Crowds are dreadfully poor compared to the amazing super series… whats going on? Why are more people not invested into turning up to watch games if it is providing meaningful games?

      • AngryGala2.
        Good job it’s not turnstile numbers at your local Super6 Melrose team that go towards running costs and wages .
        They’d be filing for bankruptcy ages ago.
        See you at the next Gala game….at least I know who’s playing unlike the mercenaries in your world

      • Poor Alan… What Mercenaries are you referring to? Majority of players are good Scottish Talent trying to make there way up in the world, and Dodson is providing them the finance to have that opportunity, you should be personally thanking him for keeping our game alive. Super-Series is a well thought long term vision for the game which will continue to grow and expand, as well at captivate audiences.

        Your out of touch with reality, i would suggest attend a super series game before commenting again. Perhaps seeing the U20 be competitive in the forthcoming Six Nations will change your mind.

      • You might just have Egg on your face AngryGalaman 2 by your comment on U20 team .
        Why were these young guys not picked or given chances in Sup6 teams from beginning
        That’s what is was meant to be for was it not … avenue to pro rugby for young players .
        not just put in a made up team in Dodson’s ‘folly’who have been walloped every week .the benefits of being thumped every week doesn’t make sense to me .
        What will they make up next in this farce to keep it from going belly up


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