Green Machine seizes up at Mansfield

Greens flanker Nick Mactaggart makes a break through the Hawks defence with Rory Sutherland, Greg Cottrell and Keith Davies in support
Greens flanker Nick Mactaggart makes a break through the Hawks defence with Rory Sutherland, Greg Cottrell and Keith Davies in support
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IT was a day of exasperation and frustration not only for Hawick, but their supporters who turn up for each home game with an air of confidence.

That, this year, has been misplaced and Saturday was no exception.

After a good performance at Ayr a week earlier, Hawick were expected to build on that against a club just above them in Premier One.

But fans left the ground in disbelief. Where do we go from here? they asked, as Hawick faced up to ‘B’ rugby in the New Year.

And the club is still without a coach as officials try to replace Derek Armstrong. Two in the frame, we are told, but when?

However, the current coaches, stand-ins Jim Renwick and Rocky Johnstone, are excluded from blame. “We, as players, have to be more consistent,” said skipper Bruce McNeil.

“We have to turn it round, there are no ifs and buts.

“If that means putting in extra training and hard training, we have to do it. We have to be committed.

“The coaches cannot do it all. We must train on Monday nights as well. We must continue to improve on a weekly basis and build up the confidence.

“The Border League and the [Scottish] Cup will give us that chance although there will be tough games. But hopefully we can get that confidence as we must hit the ground running in January.”

The lack of a coach has not been a factor in the club’s sustained run of poor results. McNeil continued: “Jim [Renwick] is one of the most knowledgeable men around in coaching the backs, and Rocky [Johnstone] has done a great job with the forwards.

“We have played some good rugby, but went to sleep for long periods at times and we have not been able to kill games off.”

They may not show it, but there is unease at Mansfield Park that such a famous club is, if not fighting for survival, in much need of a quick remedy to emerge from the doldrums.

And to compound their day, Hawick lost the game and remained bottom of Prem One. A real shame, as the Borders need as many top sides as possible, especially with Gala and Melrose at the head of the field.

Hawick were often on the back foot and not even the presence of John Coutts – a late recruit from neighbouring Hawick YM – who scored the only try with Glasgow Hawks’ Bart Karalus in the sin bin, could turn their fortunes around. There was, quite simply, nothing on offer from the home side, who surrendered meekly as the points flowed west and Hawks won their third game of the season, leaving Hawick supporters stunned, and the players with lots of work to do yet.

Hawick got off to the best possible start when Gary Johnstone slotted an early penalty. But by half time they trailed 3-20 as Mike Martin banged over two penalties and converted tries from George Hunter, who was driven over, and Ross Miller, who had the freedom of the park on the right-hand touchline to score with relative ease.

Coutts restored some hope for the Greens only for Peter Jericevich to put the result beyond doubt seven minutes from the end.

By then, many fans had had enough and were making their way along Mansfield Road while chewing the fat over another disappointing day.