ALAN LORIMER @ Riverside Park
HAWICK duly delivered what was expected of them in scoring nine tries and conceding none to overrun a Jed-Forest side that stuck in gamely but which, in its depleted form, never stood a chance against the reigning Premiership champions.
Jed’s coach, David Grieve, admitted this has been one of the most difficult weeks for the Riverside club, saying: “Trying to pick a squad was very difficult. To be honest, the game was in doubt on Thursday night. It’s getting front-row replacements. Five of the [front-row] boys from last week are all injured”.
Grieve, however, although feeling a bit down, has not lost hope and believes this is not the end for Jed. “The boys who played today showed they can perform at this level. The did themselves justice. The scoreline is a bit harsh but the boys can do it.
“We need them to believe and come down to training. At the end of the day it’s their club, not the committee’s. We’ll have a couple of boys back next week so maybe that might help”.
As for Hawick, the heat was on the Greens knowing that they were playing against a Jed team in difficulty long before kick-off.
“With the build up and injuries to their team there was a little pressure on us,” admitted Matty Douglas, the Hawick coach. “We were expected to win but these derbies can be different. I thought Jed started pretty well in the first 15 minutes. But once we got the first two tries we cracked them. I also thought defensively we were very good today.”
Hawick displayed some neat touches, especially commendable in the unhelpful wet conditions both overhead and underfoot, and once the Greens found top gear with their handling game the scores piled up.
Among the Hawick players to catch the eye were centre Lee Armstrong, back-rows Jae Linton and Connor Sutherland and second-rows Fraser Wilson and Sam Frizzel. The bench, too, contributed well with Declan Lightbody featuring well as replacement scrum-half and Fraser Renwick and Charlie Welsh proving their worth.
As if defying predictions, it was Jed who looked the more likely to claim first points after dominating both possession and territory in the opening period. The hosts had the chance to drive a line-out close to the Hawick line but a loss of ball at the throw-in thwarted their early ambitions.
It was all a false dawn for Jed, who were quickly shown why Hawick are currently in the top three, the Greens displaying composure with a decisive attack before Armstrong put in a low diagonal kick that proved to be a killer blow.
Fellow centre Andrew Mitchell, following up Armstrong’s kick with a rapid chase touched down in the corner for an unconverted try to put Hawick on their way to an eventually massive win. Then within what seemed a short time lapse, Mitchell was again on the score sheet, this time after the ball was hacked down the left touchline.
Ford’s conversion gave Hawick a 12-0 lead and when Mitchell showed soft hands to send Linton powering through a gap for his side’s third try, the Kirk was again on target with the extras to put the Greens ahead by 19-0.
Hawick now had the sniff of the bonus point and sated their appetite after their forwards switched to pick-and-drive mode setting up a try under the posts for prop Tom Hope, easily converted by Ford.
The visitors’ desire for further points was quickly realised with Armstrong judging his pass perfectly to put scrum-half Sean Goodfellow on course for try number five, and Ford, now enjoying a fiesta first half with the boot, succeeded with his fourth conversion goal to give the defending champions a massive 33-0 interval advantage.
Hawick were in no mood to let up after the break and showed their intent with a try and conversion by Ford after waves of attacks. Then just a minute after coming off the bench, Welsh sailed over after supporting winger Ronan McKean, Ford yet again converting.
The flow of points for Hawick continued with Mitchell completing his hat-trick at the end of some slick handling by the Greens and then Ford hacking the ball ahead before skilfully sliding over for his side’s ninth try, then converting both scores to give the defending champions a handsome win at Riverside and the Hawick full back a personal tally of 26 points.
Jed-Forest: L Young; G Young, O Cranston, B Roff, R Shirra-Gibb; L Walker, L Elder; M Purves, H Keith, N Bates, C Skeldon, J Hynd, H Stenhouse, E Lauder, D Wardrop. Subs: G Munro, S Anderson, N Cook, R Anderson, K Grieve.
Hawick: K Ford; F Anderson, A Mitchell, L Armstrong, R McKean; K Brunton, S Goodfellow; S Muir, R Anderson, T Hope, F Wilson, S Frizzel, S Graham, C Sutherland, J Linton. Subs: F Renwick, R Linton, H Donaldson, D Lightfoot, C Welsh.
Referee: S O’Neill
Jed-Forest: No scorers
Hawick: Tries; Mitchell 3, Linton, Goodfellow, Ford 2, Hope, Welsh; Cons: Ford 8.
Scoring Sequence (Jed-Forest first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12; 0-17; 0-19; 0-24; 0-26; 0-31; 0-33 (h-t) 0-38; 0-40; 0-45; 0-47; 0-52; 0-54; 0-59, 0-61.
Man-of-the-Match: Hawick’s centre Lee Armstrong looked back to his creative best, displaying soft hands and skill with the boot to create scoring opportunities for those around him and fully deserves the MOTM accolade.
Talking point: While Hawick put points in the bank, the focus after the Riverside derby is more on Jed-Forest, who are fighting to ward off a club-busting crisis. With the list of front-row casualties lengthening, Jed are having to dig deep to field a viable team. They have got out of jail before this season but with six rounds of the Premiership played and no wins yet recorded it is not looking good for the Riverside club.