Gala 23 Hawick 15
Hawick’s BT Cup journey came to an abrupt end Saturday after rivals Gala dumped the Robbie Dyes out of the competition with a convincing 23-15 win at Netherdale.
Saturday was the second round of what is effectively a three-round match-up spanning six-weeks between these two close neighbours.
Hawick claimed the first in the Border League with the Maroons levelling things at the weekend in the cup. The final round comes next weekend at Mansfield Park where the two will have 80 minutes to save their respective BT Premiership seasons.
“We are out the cup and it’s pretty depressing as everyone loves a great cup round, we were just second best to a lot of things on the day,” said captain Bruce McNeil, who watched from the sidelines as he served his two-game ban.
The match was full-blooded and frantic, amid sub-zero temperatures, but it was not the kind of contest to inspire much poetry.
Fielding a slightly more senior side than Hawick, who were missing McNeil, Rory Hutton and Greg Cottrell among others through injury, Gala in the end were deserving of victory and a place in the fourth round of the cup.
George Hunter led the way for the Marrons with two first-half penalties and a conversion of Matt Carryer’s fifteenth minute try.
A Grant Huggan touchdown and a penalty and conversion from Ali Weir kept the Greens within touching distance but for a team lauded in the past eight weeks for their stout defence and thrilling attacking play, Hawick struggled mightily.
Trailing 13-10 as the two emerged from the interval, Hawick’s Achilles heal for much of the season was their slow starts and it again came back to bite them when winger Dwayne Burrows touched down with barely a minute on the clock. Hunter’s conversion and penalty ten minutes from time following Kirk Ford’s yellow card for a deliberate knock-on essentially wrapped up the victory for the hosts.
Hawick did attempt a brief fightback through a late Lee Armstrong try but Gala closed ranks and held firm to close out for the 23-15 win.
“We lost the game because we started so slow and allowed them to really build up a lead but also our inaccuracies cost us big,” added McNeil.
“We eventually got going and the fightback might have been completed had there been five or so extra minutes, but in the end I think a lot of the boys were looking to the game next week rather than this one.
“Despite all that, there were positives. We had a youngish team out there. All the boys who stepped up did a good job and got a taste of the BT Cup.
“It means that when we face them in a massive game next week at Mansfield Park we should have guys back who will hopefully give us the quality we will need to get over this defeat and more.”