Jed-Forest 29 Hawick 31
They did their best to throw it away – and could have had the home defence not tired and allowed Armstrong to produce his heroics – but Hawick held out to produce a climax supporters who waited an extra two days to watch the Skelly Cup clash following Monday’s postponement could not have expected.
Early scores from Stuart Graham and Conor Gracie, Neil Renwick converting one, gave the Greens a 12-3 half-time lead.
Jed fought back after the break to take a 29-24 lead into the final five minutes, touchdowns from Bruce Campbell and a second from Grace, Renwick adding a single conversion in reply for Hawick, before Lee Armstrong struck to level the scores and Renwick converting to give the Robbie Dyes a 31-29 victory.
“We were nowhere near our best tonight but we got there in the end,” Hawick captain Bruce McNeil said afterwards.
“Most of the boys were probably still sitting round the Christmas dinner table I think.
“Our defence wasn’t great and against a Jed side like that they punish you and that’s what they did.
“It wasn’t pretty but we got ourselves a good win over a good side and that is valuable for us moving forward.”
Jed-Forest were looking for a signature win over a rival they hope to replace in the BT Premiership next season.
Heading into Wednesday night’s clash under the lights at Riverside Park, Jed had won 14 out of their 16 games this season – five out of their last six – but fell behind early after Greens backrower, Stuart Graham, nipped over from close range, Renwick added the conversion.
Jed regrouped and hit back with a penalty but Gracie restored Hawick’s healthy advantage with the first of his two scoring efforts that gave the Greens a 12-3 lead heading into the interval.
Hawick were not wielding anything close to a potent attack that has seen them lodge 41 and 31 points in their previous three contests, but their opportunism opened doors and brought them a third score after the break through Campbell, after an earlier Jed converted try pulled the hosts within two points.
At 19-10, Hawick seemed comfortable, particularly as Jed struggled to deal with the Greens dominate set-piece, but it was the hosts who scored next, registering their second converted score.
As Jed chased the game Hawick’s offense opened a hole for Gracie to allow the Greens to move back into a double-figure lead.
The Robbie Dyes were worth their lead but they are nothing if not unreliable with late game advantages. Jed eventually found some form to level the scores with another converted touchdown before taking their first lead with a fourth try, conversion missed, that began a torturous final minutes which was rescued by Armstrong’s late heroics and Renwick’s nerve ending conversion.
Hawick: N. Renwick, C. Gracie, L. Armstrong, G. Johnstone, K. Ford, M. Douglas, B, Campbell, S. Fairbairn, S. Graham, R. Gibson, K. McNeil, D. Lowrie, G. Douglas, C. McKintosh, M. Landles. Replacements: L. Gibson, S. Muir, M. Renwick, D. Redpath, R. Hutton, K. Brunton, G. Huggan, A. Weir, R. Hartdegan, J. Watson.