When Phil Leck took over last season, his first game in charge of the Greens saw his team go down at Kelso in the RBS Cup, but back-to-back losses to the Tweedsiders was not on his agenda as Hawick got their competitive season off to a flying start.
From the whistle they tore into Kelso, and from the opening minute they set their stall out to play attacking rugby. The home defence was tested several times early on and they did well to keep Hawick out, but in the 12th minute Rory Hutton went over for the opening try, thanks to some superb work by Neil Renwick, who put pressure on Frank Robson, turned the ball over, before quickly releasing to Hutton for the score.
The large crowd were enjoying a fast-paced game in good sunny conditions with the strong wind favouring Hawick in the first half. Credit to Kelso, though, for coming back into the match and they edged in front with a rumbling try from Euan Ford which Murray Hastie converted.
The home side’s lead was shortlived, however, and they had the stuffing knocked out of them following two tries in two minutes from Kieran Willison and then an interception score by Lee Armstrong. When Renwick then kicked a penalty from halfway to add to the conversion of Armstrong’s try, Hawick had built up a lead which they would never relinquish.
On the 40-minute mark Hastie scored a penalty to give his team some hope, but when Keith Davies touched down just after the break – with Renwick landing the conversion – the Greens were in total control and playing quality rugby.
Hutton was on fire, having one of those games that we know he is capable of. When he is in this kind of form he is as good as any fly-half in the country and if he consistently delivers performances like this as the season progresses he will surely be in line for another crack at the big time. He was a joy to watch and his own confidence quickly rubbed off on his teammates who really expressed themselves with some eye-catching flair play.
Hutton’s second try was a trademark move, sending his opponent the wrong way and darting in under the posts. Renwick’s conversion took the score to 34-10.
With 10 minutes remaining, Richard Minto got a try back for Kelso, converted by Hastie, but the hosts needed more touchdowns quickly and that was always going to be difficult against a well-drilled Hawick defence who had learned a lot from the previous week’s defeat in the practice match against Gala.
The Greens’ final try was out of the top drawer. Brilliant handling sending Keith Davies in for his second touchdown, with Renwick’s fourth conversion completing the scoring and an impressive 41-17 win.
Kelso had gone all of last season without conceding that kind of total on their own patch, so the result will no doubt have raised a few eyebrows, and although it’s very early days for both sides, Hawick travel to Inverleith this Saturday in confident mood for their National League opener against Stewart’s Melville.
HAWICK skipper Greg Cottrell’s post-match reaction in Friday’s paper.