Hawick find their rhythm as passing game pays off

Hawck's Rory Hutton against Heriot's at Mansfield Park.
Hawck's Rory Hutton against Heriot's at Mansfield Park.

Hawick 15

Heriot’s 15

Hawick offered up a glimmer of hope for survival by holding BT Premiership title holders Heriot’s to a draw, with a heroic performance which tamed the high-flying Goldencare men.

Heriot’s, who had the professional presence of Edinburgh and Scotland squad back row Cornell Du Preez in their side, had expected to leave Mansfield Park with at least four points from this game.

But Hawick’s committed defence and, at times, their inspired play, all but resulted in a win for the Greens.

The Greens are back down in anchor position but there are now only five points separating the bottom five clubs with six rounds remaining.

If Hawick can replicate the form they showed against Heriot’s, there’s reason to believe they can survive the drop. But it could depend on the contentious matter of professionals. Once again, Hawick were without any pros, whereas Heriot’s benefited from Du Preez.

Hawick’s dynamic play certainly rattled Heriot’s but the Greens had to battle hard in the forwards to resist Heriot’s heavyweights, both in the scrum and at the line-out. That they did undoubtedly lifted confidence.

That confidence translated into accurate use of the ball as Hawick found their attacking rhythm. Their passing game ending with skipper Bruce McNeil, outstanding throughout, sending winger Wesley Hamilton clear for the opening try, calmly converted from the touchline by full back Ali Weir.

Heriot’s, however, quickly countered, taking advantage of Hawick’s sloppiness at the restart to pressure the Greens in their own 22m area with two penalty kicks to touch. From the second of these Heriot’s formed a drive towards the line and when Hawick were forced to collapse the maul, referee Callum Sharp had no option but to award a penalty try, easily converted by Alex Hagart.

A try by full back Charlie Simpson early in the second half and then a Hagart penalty goal gave Heriot’s an eight-point lead.

But Hawick again found the ability to strike back, first with a Weir goal and then from inspirational play by winger Darcy Graham – first with a kick and chase and then his try in the corner – to achieve a draw and, with it, hope for staying in the top tier.