MacLeod hails Hawick defence in Gala victory

Hawick's Rory Hutton in action during Saturday's victory over Gala.
Hawick's Rory Hutton in action during Saturday's victory over Gala.

Facing their second Borders foe in as many weeks, Hawick rolled over Gala at Mansfield Park on Saturday to boost their BT Premiership play-off hopes.

As has been the case since the Greens’ defeat to the Maroons at the beginning of the season, the combination of a pacey backfield and a smothering defence carried Hawick to victory.

Gala were put under pressure all day and constantly harried by a defence that gave up just a single converted score either side of the interval.

“Our defence won us that game,” said Hawick assistant coach and Newcastle Falcon Scott MacLeod, who turned out for the Greens for the second consecutive week after being dual-registered with the Aviva Premiership club.

“We’re very pleased with the result. Gala threw everything at us to be fair in the first half and they never gave up. They played really well considering their performances of late have been a bit lacklustre, they gave us everything.

“I’m pleased to come away with the win. We stuck in well, gave away a couple of soft tries, but overall I thought our defence held and took it to them.”

Earlier this season, it appeared as though the Robbie Dyes were set to endure a difficult campaign, with Melrose, Gala and Heriot’s all sweeping the Greens aside, and questions being asked as to where the Mansfield Park outfit went from here.

Since then, however, Hawick have won six out of seven and outscored their opponents 166-94. Saturday’s win was particularly impressive considering it came off the back of last week’s hard-fought triumph over Melrose, their first victory at The Greenyards in over five years.

Saturday started as well as it ended for the Robbie Dyes. Ali Weir paced Hawick’s offence with a pair of early penalties, one of which was a result of a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on from Ruairi Howarth.

Stuart Graham dotted down for the game’s opening touchdown, which was converted by Weir, as Hawick helped themselves to a commanding 13-0 lead in the first quarter.

Gala hit back through centre Alan Emond, with Howarth converting. But the Maroons were always playing catch-up in a game that was billed as a must-win for last season’s play-off contenders.

Weir added his third penalty to round-out the first half scoring with Hawick 16-7 up.

Gala came out swinging after the break, their offense looking slightly less disjointed but uncharacteristic errors and indiscipline yielded yet more points.

Hawick lost second-rower Craig Charters for pulling down in the lineout but the visitors failed to take advantage of the extra man.

Talented youngster Kirk Ford, who has helped Hawick YM to an undefeated season so far, touched down for his first BT Premiership try, with Weir converting, which all but put the game beyond the Netherdale outfit.

Trailing by 16 points and a man down after Cameron Pate was yellow carded for an off-the-ball scuffle, Gala eventually got themselves off the mark in the second period. Hooker Mattie Carryer capitalised on a mistake by Ford, before crashing over from close range. Craig Dodds converted, but that was as good as it got for the visitors who have now not tasted victory in their last nine Premiership contests.

Hawick: K. Ford, S. Anderson, J. Coutts, R. Hutton, C. Russell, A. Weir, S. Goodfellow, N. Little, R. Graham, S. Berghan, S. MacLoed, C. Charters, B. McNeil, S. Graham, K. Davies. Replacements: L. Gibson, S. Muir, N. Mactaggart, R. Gibson, G. Cottrell.