ALAN LORIMER @ Myreside
WATSONIANS put a pile of points in the bank from a substantial win over a Hawick side that is struggling to come to terms with the loss of a number of key players.
This was something of a bizarre game, however, and had the feel of Hawick Home v Hawick Diaspora. Five of the Watsonians starting side had worn the Hawick jersey in recent seasons and this quintet contained some of Mansfield Park’s prime attacking players, notably Darcy Graham and Rory Hutton, not to mention recent Scotland Under-20 star Fraser Renwick, who scored a hat-trick of tries.
Moreover, the game pitted two sets of brothers against each other, making it a difficult match for the opposing siblings.
“It was hard playing against so many of our former team mates,” admitted the Hawick coach, George Graham. “But I’m not offering up that as an excuse for the result today.
“We just didn’t turn up, yet we trained really well this week. I think our intensity wasn’t there. The ball was coughed up too many times. The scrum creaked a little bit. We are where we are. We’ve got a group of players who are young and learning all the time. But this level of rugby is very unforgiving. And I think the level of the Premiership is getting better.”
The other side of the coin was that Watsonians made it difficult for Hawick to use what ball they won. “I thought that defensively we were very good, stated Steve Lawrie, the Watsonians coach. “The boys took a lot of pride in their defence. We just built into the game. It was good to see them playing with a bit of expanse. I thought, too, that Lee Millar controlled the game really well from stand-off.”
In all Watsonians ran in eight tries, scored from both tight play and from inventive back moves that proved too subtle for the Hawick defence. Additionally Hawick were far from solid in the set-scrum and were further handicapped with the loss of their prop Shawn Muir.
Hawick had started well with a try in the opening three minutes from centre Dom Buckley from a chip over the Watsonians’ defensive line by stand-off Kyle Brunton, who then added the conversion points.
Stung by this early set-back, Watsonians replied swiftly from a driving maul which ended with Renwick touching down and Millar converting to level the scores.
Then, in a clever backline move, Edinburgh’s Darcy Graham appeared in midfield before racing in under the posts leaving Millar with an easy two pointer. Minutes later another ex-Hawick player inflicted more damage as Rory Hutton made the running for a try by Connor Boyle, again converted by Millar.
Just before the break, Watsonians secured the bonus point with a solo effort from Renwick and a fourth conversion by Millar for a 28-7 half-time lead, extended after the interval when second-row Jamie Hodgson crashed over from short range, Millar keeping up his uninterrupted flow of conversion points.
Hawick hit back
Fortunately for the game, Hawick showed some fighting spirit and when Edinburgh scrum-half Sean Kennedy cut through the Watsonians defence, Buckley was on hand to run in his second try, this time converted by Lee Armstrong.
But that was the extent of the Hawick revival and it was Watsonians who finished strongly, adding tries by replacement back-rowers Gregor Nelson and James Miller, as well as top scorer Renwick, for the hooker to complete his hat-trick, Two of the final three tries were converted by Millar to give the stand-off a personal tally of fourteen points.
In other news:
Watsonians: J Rowland; A Guthrie, R Hutton, D Innes, D Graham; L Millar, M Scott; G Jackson, F Renwick, J Stanley, J Hodgson, C Borthwick©, F Simpson, R Graham, C Boyle. Subs: D Ferguson, G Nelson, J Miller, E Fox, P Cunningham.
Hawick: L Armstrong; K Young, A Mitchell, D Buckley, F Robson; K Brunton, D Lightfoot; S Muir, M Carryer, P Ceccarelli, D Suddon, D Redpath, S Graham, D Davison, B McNeil. Subs: C Renwick, R Macleod, S Fairbairn, S Kennedy, K Davies.
Referee: F Brown
Watsonians: Tries: Renwick 3, Graham, Boyle, Hodgson, Nelson, Miller; Cons: Millar 7.
Hawick: Tries: Buckley 2; Cons: Brunton, Armstrong.
Scoring Sequence (Watsonians first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 12-7; 14-7; 19-7; 21-7; 26-7; 28-7 (h-t) 33-7; 35-7; 35-12; 35-14; 40-14.
Man-of-the-Match: Home hooker Fraser Renwick showed a range of skills and deservedly ended with a hat-trick of tries. It must have been galling for Hawick to watch one of their own products causing such carnage against his old team mates.
Talking point: Watsonians will have given themselves a confidence lift and will surely try to build on the expansive game they played here. For the Greens, this is turning into a difficult season. The fact that so many of their former players were in the opposing side illustrates how difficult it is for a community like Hawick to retain their home grown talent.