Greens set for Darlington test

Nikki Walker
Nikki Walker

Hawick have announced this week that they will take on Darlington and Gala in pre-season friendlies ahead of the start of the 2015/16 BT Premiership season.

The Greens campaign to improve upon Last season begins with a trip to Blackwell Meadows, Darlington, on August 15, to take on the full-time professionals from England’s Durham/Northumberland Division One.

It will be the first time the two sides have faced one another and head coach Nikki Walker believes the tough test will help show his team where they are physically two weeks out from the start of league play, while gauging exactly how his side match up against a professional outfit.

“For us, it was important to find a team a step above, a team who would give us a real test and to show us what level we really are on,” said Walker.

“It will be a great trip away. They have an impressive facility down there. The boys will get to play in a nice big stadium and also it’s not that far away so not much traveling is involved.

“We’ll be taking a squad of 26 down and the agreement is we will play a full 80-minute contest which will probably consist of two completely different sets of 15 out on the pitch during each half to maximise the exercise.”

The Robbie Dyes and their 2nd XV continue their pre-season on August 22 with a short trip to Netherdale to face Gala for what will be their final warm-up game before welcoming Melrose to Mansfield Park to open the 2015/16 league season.

“It’s not exactly the most ideal friendly because we play them week two of the season but we have a good relationship with Gala and it made the most sense. We don’t have to travel very far and we get 1st XV and 2nd XV games, something we were after.

“We don’t want to have both teams playing in separate locations if we can prevent it. We want the playing group playing as close to one another as possible to stop players being dissected as either a first XV or second XV player.”

Walker added: “Gala are a good side and the game will be a great way to get all the little things sorted before Melrose visit Mansfield on August 29 to kick the new season off.”