Hawick captain Bruce McNeil
Hawick captain Bruce McNeil

Ayr 33 
Hawick 19

Ayr swatted Hawick aside with a punishing 33-19 victory at Millbrae on Saturday to keep the Greens’ BT Premiership relegation worries well and truly alive.

Ayr scored five, which may make this sound closer than the 14-point margin of victory suggests, but that margin was more than fair – perhaps even flattering – to Hawick, who were unable to emerge from this sobering experience with a bonus-point.

Three converted tries from Lewis Anderson, Grant Anderson, David Armstrong, built a 21-point advantage the Millbrae men were simply never going to relinquish.

Hawick pair Dom Buckley and Bruce McNeil separately spent time in the sin-bin midway through the half and Ayr used their man advantage to add to their tally through David Anderson, taking a 26-0 lead.

A pair of Dalton Redpath scores, Lee Armstrong converting both, either side of half-time, along with a McNeil forceover, did give Hawick hope of a potential rival, but the hosts eventually regathered themselves. Tommy Spinks crashed over late to end Hawick’s hope of a potential come-from-behind victory and also any thoughts of a losing bonus-point.

Saturday’s result, coupled with Marr’s upset victory over Currie and Boroughmuir managing to secure a losing bonus-point against Watsonians, leaves Hawick’s relegation from the Premiership a very big possibility.

“When you give up a 26-point lead to a side like Ayr, at home no less, there isn’t much you can do to get anything from the game,” said Hawick captain Bruce McNeil.

“I think for a 20-30 minute period we lost the plot. We gave away stupid penalties, yellow cards and possession, and they punished us for that. We just lost our shape and structures too quickly and we just couldn’t recover and stop them going wild.

“They had a lot of motivation going into the game. They are going for the play-offs, they are losing their coach at the end of the season, along with three experienced players, not least we had just beaten them in the BT Cup the week before. There was little surprise they were very up for the game.”

McNeil said: “The result was disappointing but it is what it is. After they took a 26-point lead we could have gone into our shells and allowed a massive 50/60 point score but we didn’t. We stuck at it and scored 19-points to give ourselves a chance. We came up short for a bonus-point but credit is due to the boys for not giving up.”

The Robbie Dyes sit just a single point above Boroughmuir, who have a game in hand, and five points ahead of basement side Marr. This weekend sees a fallow Premiership schedule due to the Scotland v England Six Nations international before the Greens face a potentially league altering match against rivals Melrose next weekend. “For us to stay in the Premiership we have to beat Melrose, it’s the biggest game of our season,” added McNeil, who is confident two weeks preparation is enough for his side to knock-off league leaders Melrose.

“This is not a position I want to be in, I would much rather be challenging for the title right now. If you look at our form in the second half of the season we are a side who would be in the top four. That first half of the season really cost us.

“It’s going to be difficult against Melrose, they are the best team in Scotland right now but if you take away that Jed-Forest result we haven’t lost at home in a while, and even when we have lost we haven’t been far off.

“We know for us to have a chance at staying in the league we have to win. I would rather be safe now but it is what it is. We have shown what we are capable of and can beat the best.”