Greens go down in opener but show spirit in the second half

Captain Bruce McNeil bursts through but he was to end the day disappointed after defeat
Captain Bruce McNeil bursts through but he was to end the day disappointed after defeat

Hawick 28 
Currie Chieftains 39

Hawick opened their new BT Premiership season with a disparaging 39-28 defeat to Currie Chieftains on Saturday.

A new season means new goals, sometimes new players and a renewed sense of hope.

Hawick’s season opener, however, did not start quite as well as many had hoped. Last season’s top-four side, Currie, rolled into town and illustrated just how much work there is still to do before Hawick are back where they want to be.

The Greens were comfortably swept to one side by the Chieftains, who managed to overcome an early morning team bus no-show at Mansfield Park on Saturday.

The Ballerno-based side had wrapped up their try-bonus point before half-time and looked ready to dump a cricket score on the Robbie Dyes before a second-half resurrection helped Hawick retain a level of respectability.

Kyle Brunton, Ross Combe and a penalty try, Ali Weir adding to his first-half extra point with all three conversions, helped the Greens secure a face-saving try-bonus point.

To add to their week one misery, last season’s stand-out winger and newly signed Edinburgh Rugby star, Darcy Graham, who had scored Hawick’s opening try in the first half, suffered a grade two ACL injury that will sideline the talented do-it-all-winger for up to eight weeks.

“Scoring 28 points against a Premiership side usually gets you a win nowadays, but not when you manage to leak 39 points the other way,” said a disappointed Hawick captain Bruce McNeil.

“There were three areas where I felt we were completely outplayed.

“The contact area, our high-kick and chase, and in and around the rucks. They controlled them all really well and from there they managed to dictate line-speed, pace of the game and the overall contest.”

For all that went wrong for the Robbie Dyes in the opening half, 27-7 down at the interval and looking beaten, the Mansfield Park unit found a way to earn themselves a try bonus-point and come within four points of snatching a losing bonus-point after the break.

Hawick’s defensive structures and finge defence, which were caught being over-aggressive and allowing a methodical Currie to march down field easily on multiple occasions, improved enough to slow Currie’s forward momentum.

In attack, the Greens managed to mix up their formations to utilise all of their speed and flair that ultimately led to the Brunton, Combe and the penalty try touchdowns.

“They played well,” continued McNeil.

“Frustratingly we let them play well and I think they just wanted it more than us in the end.

“At half-time it looked like it could have gone for us, they were ready to put a fair few points on us but we managed to claw [things] back and looked better in certain areas.

“Scoring four tries was something that is pleasing for us and it got us an important point from the game. Last year we would probably come away from that game with nothing.

“Overall, disappointing result made worse with the news of Darcy’s injury which will keep him out of action for about eight weeks.

“Not ideal really and it’s tough but that’s rugby. Darren [Cunningham] is back this week and we have plenty to work on ahead of Stirling [County] this weekend.”

Hawick Force’s BT Reserve League Division Two fixture against Gala A was postponed due to the Maroons being unable to field a team.

As a result, the Force were awarded a 28-0 win along with five league points available.