Hawick Harlequins secured their first win in 13 attempts on Saturday, triumphing over their local rivals Hawick Linden 15 points to 10 at Wilton Lodge Park, writes Alexander McLeman.
In typical borders derby fashion the game was physical and untidy with both sides guilty of wasting possession and opportunities.
The experience and size advantage the Linden forward pack enjoyed over their rivals counted for nought as Quins’ well organised and improved side neutralized such a dominate aspect of the team.
After an opening period of untidy exchanges from both sides, Quins were the quicker of the two to settle into the game as fly half Scott Peffers provided quick ball to a Harlequin backline, who seemed poised to punish Linden at any moment.
Ill-discipline and an exceptionally high penalty count left Linden ruing what might have been, conceding five penalties to the boot of Scott Peffers, who would score all 15 points for Quins.
The margin of victory, in truth, flattered Linden as the home side showed a far more clinical approach, dominating the visitors in possession and territory.
The home side’s victory largely came down to a defence that seemed to gain confidence the more the opposition piled on pressure.
Time and again Quins defenders pushed the visitors back in the tackle, turning possession over and counter attacking with purpose and guile.
Harlequins survived a second-half scare when Craig Smith broke the home side’s line and set up winger Stuart Williams to cross over in the corner, but the Wilton Lodge side displayed enough character in the closing period to hold out for the win.
A late penalty from Scott Peffers sealed the victory for the home side after the match was briefly suspended and moved to an adjacent pitch to allow Linden winger Sean Potts medical attention after suffering a serious neck injury.
The embraces and cheers from the players and coaches at the final whistle demonstrated just how much of a relief this win was. Quins head coach Timmy Pretswell was left scratching his head for long periods of the game as he was taken to differing extremes: From fury at his side’s general sloppy play to relief in victory.
He said: “I am just very pleased we managed to hold out for the win. It wasn’t pretty but we managed it.”