Premiership: Hawick stay on track with gritty win over Selkirk

Defence was the key to success for league leaders in hard-fought Border derby

Hawick came out on top in the Border tussle against Selkirk. Image: Grant Kinghorn
Hawick came out on top in the Border tussle against Selkirk. Image: Grant Kinghorn

Selkirk 8

Hawick 17

LEWIS STUART @ Philiphaugh

HAWICK kept their Premiership lead as they got revenge against the only team to have held them this season. For Selkirk, though, the frustration was clear. They were clearly the better team for large chunks of the game but while Hawick were near perfect in taking chances, the hosts were at the opposite extreme.

Add a controversial final try for the visitors and it was just about as infuriating as things could get for the Selkirk coaches.

For the Greens, on the other hand, it was a case of job done with their ability to score when it mattered making all the difference. “We’re really happy, its a tough place to come,” said Matthew Douglas, their head coach. “After a slow start when we were not up to speed we did get a try.

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“We spoke at half time about upping our work-rate, getting the tempo up and got the reward. I know we were under pressure a lot of the time but I was not too worried, the defence was really good and then we took our chances.”

Scott Wight‘s, mood was at the opposite end of the scale as he reflected on a Selkirk performance that should have brought a whole lot more. “It sums us up in the last two weeks; a huge amount of effort and energy but we did not take our opportunities,” he said.

“I’ll be interested to see the stats but we dominated in possession and territory but didn’t take advantage and then didn’t cover a kick properly, gave away an interception and then they scored when I thought we should have had a penalty.”

That final try was a sickener for Selkirk and he has a point. The Hawick front-row seemed to pop out of the scrum but with the home side waiting for the whistle to go, the ball whizzed out to the Green back line for Kirk Ford to cross for the score that took the result out of Selkirk’s reach.

Even then they should have got closer but failing to convert pressure into chances has been a something of a theme for Selkirk and proved to be the case again as they camped in the visitors’ 22 for the first quarter and came away with nothing.

Inevitably they were made to pay. Inexorably, Hawick wrestled the initiative from their hosts. Though they did not make their first serious visit to the opposition 22 until the well into the second quarter, they looked sharp when they eventually got there. Full-back Ford cut back across the defence and chipped into space where the strange bounce of a rugby ball saw it beat the home cover and present wing Lewis Ferguson with the opening try.

Selkirk should have at least levelled the scores when a delightful offload from James Head, the lock being used as a midfield battering ram, created a gap but again their handling wasn’t up to it. The net result was that despite having spent most of the first half in the vicinity of their own line, it was the Greens who went into the dressing room at half time with a five point lead.


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Presumably that wasn’t enough to prevent a half time roasting from Douglas and they started the second half with new ferocity, though when the next score did come, it was more a case of Selkirk imploding than any real credit to the visitors.

The home team were trying far too hard to keep the ball alive in midfield and messed it up. Ronan McKean, the Hawick wing, latched onto the ball and, with the home defence nowhere to be seen, raced down the touchline for his team’s second score.

Selkirk at last found their scoring touch. They recovered the loose ball on the left swung it down the line where full-back Matt Reid put in a perfectly weighted kick for wing Lachlan Ferguson to win the race to the ball.

Not that the game remained that close for long. Hawick made their way upfield and started to dominate in the scrums. Even when Selkirk changed their front-row and put them under pressure, they were still winning the penalties and that proved crucial.

While it looked like it was the Green front row who went up in the scrum before that final try, they still managed to get the ball away and with the home defence distracted the visitors took full advantage through Ford.

The full-back also added the first conversion of the game to hand his side a 12 point advantage, soon cut to nine when Reid kicked the first penalty of the game a couple of minutes later. That was as good as it got for the home side, though, and after a typically tough Borders derby, it was the Green Machine that was left motoring on.



Teams –

Selkirk: M Reid; L Ferguson, J Welsh, C Jackson, R Cottrell; R Nixon, A McColm; L Pettie, J Bett, Z Szwagrzak, J Head, A Cochrane, A McColm, S McClymont, M Job. Substitutes: B Riddell, K Thomson, C Turnbull, J Hamilton, F Wheelans.

Hawick: K Ford; L Ferguson, A Mitchell, G Huggan, R McKean; K Brunson, H Patterson; S Muir, M Carryer, N Little, D Redpath, S Fairbairn, C Sutherland, C Renwick, J Linton. Substitutes: F Ranwick, R MacLeod, S Graham, E Reilly, B Donaldson.

Referee: F Brown


Scorers –

Selkirk: Tries: Ferguson; Pen: Reid.

Hawick: Tries: Ferguson, McKean, Ford; Con: Ford.

Scoring sequence (Selkirk first): 0-5 (h-t) 0-10; 5-10; 5-15- 5-17; 8-17.


Player-of-the-Match: When tries are hard to come by, the player who created one and scored another has to take the top prize. Step forward Kirk Ford, the Hawick full-back whose contributions were pivotal in the tight game.

Talking point: Defences win games, it’s as simple as that. Though Hawick spent long periods in their own 22, their defensive organisation was up to the task, helped by far too much sloppy handling from their opponents.

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About Lewis Stuart 36 Articles
Lewis has been writing about rugby for almost 40 years, the last 18 as a freelance based in Scotland bringing his wealth fo experience to just about every publication in the country. These days you can hear him as well by tuning in to his Wednesday night show on Rocksport Radio.