Greens blow promotion race wide open

HE WAS dressed in a green jersey rather than a red and white outfit but John Coutts took on the role of Santa Claus at Mansfield Park on Saturday as he helped deliver a resounding victory over league leaders Watsonians.

Hawick’s hat-trick hero, however, had plenty of helpers in the shape of his team-mates, who produced arguably their best performance of the season to blow the promotion race wide open.

And Coutts, who has twice bagged three tries in a match for the YM this season, is hoping they can kick on from here.

He said: “I was just in the right place at the right time.

“It was a big win and it was exactly what we needed, especially after last week (defeat against Kelso). After three weeks off it was a disappointing result but it was maybe the kick up the backside we needed for this match.

“This is a big win and it could define our season.”

While other grounds throughout the Borders succumbed to the monsoon conditions, Hawick’s match went ahead and Neil Renwick got the scoring under way after just three minutes with a penalty.

Brian Walls levelled things up five minutes later in one of the few times Watsonians threatened during a first half dominated by the Greens.

Youngster Shawn Muir has already proven himself no respecter of reputations and he was at it again as he battered through the visitors’ defence. Fellow teenager Stuart Graham took over and when the ball was worked wide Nick Mactaggart supplied the scoring pass for Coutts to go over in the corner.

And it didn’t take long for them to cross again. Lee Armstrong punched a hole in the line, injuring himself in the process. Play, however, raged on and Rory Hutton spun a long pass into the arms of Gary Johnstone who used his brute force to charge over.

Renwick’s conversion attempt hit the post and the bar and that was his last contribution of the match as he went off with an injured shoulder shortly after.

On the stroke of half-time, Walls slotted a penalty but Hawick responded five minutes into the second half with another try from Coutts as he played a sublime one-two with winger Steven Anderson to touch down in the corner.

Walls added three points with another penalty for the visitors but Armstrong, who had returned after the interval, cancelled that out with a kick of his own.

The visitors eventually found a way through the home defence when captain Mark Rennie barged over with ten minutes to go to set up a thrilling finish.

But, with Watsonians hooker Dylan Rutherford in the sin bin, the home nerves were eased as that man Coutts capped an amazing individual and team display.

Replacement Matt Landels powered through several tackles and set up quick ball through the backs. And Coutts was the willing recipient at the corner to send the crowd into raptures.