Hawick came agonisingly close to ending their ten-match losing run against Gala in a tense and thrilling contest at Mansfield Park on Saturday.
After fighting back from 17-3 down inside the opening 25 minutes, the Greens thought they had snatched victory when Lindsay Gibson, Scott McLeod and Greg Cottrell all scored to put the home side 21-20 up with just seconds remaining.
However, the incisive blow came in the sixth minute of injury time when Gala full-back Craig Dods punched a well-struck drop goal over the uprights after an impressive pick-and-drive sequence from the visitors’ forwards.
Gala dominated the early exchanges and opened the scoring when Euan Dods collected a well-timed Alan Emond pass out of the tackle to charge over for a try inside the opening 10 minutes. Euan’s cousin Craig Dods added the conversion.
Matthew Douglas, who had been promoted from the Hawick YM ranks after Rory Hutton’s call-up to the Scotland 7s team, added Hawick’s first points of the afternoon with a penalty shortly after.
Gala’s ability to keep the ball for extended periods with their superior forwards began to show, with them eating up the metres and bullying their opponents at the breakdown and in the trenches.
Full-back Dods then evaded some poor covering defence from the home side to score an excellent solo try, before Luke Pettie crashed over to extend the visitors’ lead to 3-17.
Hawick eventually unlocked their opponents after a brief moment of forward dominance, just as the match had been threatening to turn into an ordeal for the home side.
Hooker Lindsay Gibson squeezing home from short range, before Douglas added his second penalty to leave Hawick trailing 11-17 at the break.
Gala struck first after the interval through a Craig Dods penalty, but the Maroons’ normally resolute collective defence looked frail and Hawick stretched the play with some inventive and quick, attacking rugby.
Winger Scott McLeod overcoming fierce Gala tackling to find a gap and dive over in the corner, before scrum-half Greg Cottrell picked his way through a tired visiting defence for Hawick’s third that put the home side in front for the first time in the game.
The Robbie Dyes faithful then endured a nerve-shredding final five minutes as Gala tried to force their way back into the match, and with seconds remaining, the Netherdale outfit’s forwards drove the length of the pitch through an exhausted Greens defence to set-up Craig Dods who delivered the killer drop-goal in the sixth minute of injury time to dash hopes of a Greens win.
Hawick: L. Armstrong, S. Peffers, N. Walker, G. Johnstone, S. McLeod, M. Douglas, G. Cottrell, S. Muir, L. Gibson, M. Landles, M. McKee, F. Simpson, B. McNeil, R. Scott, K. Davies. Replacements: R. Graham, N. McLennan, S. Graham, S. Goodfellow.