Bruce McNeil senses a big chance for Hawick to set up a surprise Border League final berth as they take on Selkirk tomorrow night (Thursday) and an opportunity to book another important competitive fixture as they begin preparations for their BT Premiership relegation play-off.
Hawick’s end game is straightforward enough. Hawick need only to defeat Selkirk under the lights at Mansfield Park by 18 points or four tries and they are in the Border League final with a chance of ending the season with silverware.
Anything less and it will be the third swing and miss for the Greens and a long wait chasing shadows on the training pitch until their relegation play-off showdown.
“With the league and cup long gone, the Border League gives us one last chance at ending the season with silverware,” said Greens captain McNeil.
“I love playing rugby like the next guy, so this game couldn’t have come quicker after such a long time not playing anything. It’s a good feeling to know if we manage to win, score 18 points and four tries then we are in the final.
“That being said, Selkirk are not exactly coming here to lie down. They will be a tough outfit to beat as they are still going in the league and have been pretty good. It won’t be easy – they will want a scalp and would like nothing more than beating us on our own pitch.”
Preparations for the game, and more importantly their relegation play-off match, have not exactly been ideal for the Greens since the end of their league campaign almost four weeks ago.
Hawick haven’t had a competitive fixture since February 18 and failure to secure the right amount of tries and points against Selkirk would leave the Robbie Dyes without any meaningful run-outs until that crucial relegation play-off contest.
The prospect of a month training against themselves, while their National One competitors play genuine competitive league matches, should be enough motivation to pick-up a result against Selkirk, according to McNeil, and book another important fixture ahead of that play-off battle.
“We finished our league a couple of weeks ago while national one still has something like four weeks remaining so we need as many competitive fixtures as we can get ahead of the play-offs,” added the skipper.
“We have not been doing much since the end of the league season. More fitness than anything else. Boxing and crossfit plus we did a 20-mile bike ride at the weekend there. Training will pick-up this week to be more focused on rugby to get ready for Thursday night.
“It’s not ideal to be training every week against each other and not playing while our opponents are playing meaningful games. That’s why this week is so important.
“We want to win to get into the final but we also want the win to guarantee us another important competitive fixture before the play-offs.”