Selkirk ended Hawick’s quest for a 50th Border League title with a 28-17 victory at Mansfield Park on Thursday evening and cast serious concerns about Greens’ preparations for their crucial relegation play-off match next month.
A sloppy, penalty-riddled first-half in which Hawick emerged 10-7 ahead following a try from Neil Renwick and a push-over score from their forwards, Ali Weir adding a single conversion, gave way to a second half dominated by the visitors.
Hawick simply couldn’t get out of their own way, penalised for simple mistakes, coughing up possession and ultimately were just second best to every breakdown.
The Souters piled on three converted scores against a single effort from Gary Douglas, again converted by Weir, to claim the spoils and raise serious concerns about the Robbie Dyes preparations for next month’s BT Premiership relegation play-off.
“It basically never went to plan,” said a bitterly disappointed Hawick club captain, Bruce McNeil, post-match.
“We came into the game with the completely wrong attitude. We thought we could just turn up and win. That’s not how you prepare for a team of Selkirk’s quality. They basically wanted it more than us.
“We lacked the continuity, didn’t retain the ball well at all and gifted them easy tries. Coughing up possession to a team like Selkirk is not good. We were second to everything really.
“Pretty disappointed with the whole performance, really.”
Confidence was high, for Hawick, heading into the midweek showdown. The Greens were targeting a four-try and 18-point victory, which would secure them a Border League final berth against Melrose and a chance at making it 50 titles in the competition.
Additionally, the Robbie Dyes were pinning their hopes on a comprehensive victory in order to set-up another competitive match in preparation for their relegation play-off.
However, looking beyond a Selkirk side who have secured wins over Edinburgh Accies and Jed Forrest, two of Hawick’s likely relegation play-off opponents, and eager to claim a Premiership scalp was the Greens downfall.
The Philliphaugh men’s youthful, small-ball line-up against Hawick’s power-orientated system, who looked half-a-step off their opponents’ pace, worked in the visitors’ favour early when centre Darren Clapperton dived over. Josh Welsh converted.
Hawick hit back through their forwards and Renwick, Weir converting one, but it was Selkirk who looked more like the team in the higher division.
The second half, led by Welsh who pulled the strings for the Souters at stand-off, was dictated by Selkirk.
Hawick kept the game competitive with a late Douglas try and conversion from Weir, but the Greens were merely passengers as their national one guests dominated.
Tries from Tythan Adams, Ciaran Whyte and Catu Graur built a heathy points tally for Selkirk that Hawick simply couldn’t reign in.
“The result really gives everyone a wake-up call,” continued McNeil.
“We have lost to Peebles and Selkirk at Mansfield this season and Jed [Forrest] ran us close in the Skelly Cup.
“We need to take a long look at ourselves and really get serious about preparing for next month’s big relegation match. This result hopefully makes guys realise they have to be in the gym, at training and getting ready because whoever we play are going to be very ready for us. Preparations have to start now. We have to make sure this club stays in the Premiership.”