Try-scoring efforts from Stuart Graham and Fraser Renwick – with Kirk Ford adding both conversions – were not enough to prevent Hawick from losing to Darlington Mowden Park in a friendly at Mansfield Park on Friday night.
The result was largely irrelevant, but on this evidence Hawick, despite holding their own against a much bigger and organised side for long stretches, still have work to do before the trip north to play Stirling County in their opening BT Premiership game on August 27.
“From a forward’s perspective, I was delighted with the performance, but overall we still have a way to go before we are truly ready for league duty,” said Hawick assistant coach Scott MacLeod.
“We aren’t going to face a pack that size in the Premiership this season so it was very pleasing to see our lads front up well.
“That said, it wasn’t all good. We didn’t score as many points as we should have and in the second half we tired, letting them score two soft tries.”
This was Darlington Mowden Park RFC’s third pre-season outing to Hawick’s first, so the result was not a complete surprise.
The fact that Hawick only trailed their English National League One opponents 19-14 at the interval was hardly disappointing.
The half-empty view is that the Robbie Dyes lacked attacking rhythm, endurance and are clearly in desperate need of more game time before the season officially starts.
The requirement for more live action is why a second friendly against Tynedale will be staged at Station Park this Saturday.
Hawick’s squad numbered 30 and featured a collection of first XV regulars augmented with young potential stars of the future and new signings keen to sharpen their teeth against a professional side who finished sixth in England’s third tier in 2015-16.
The Greens – who lost to Darlington MP in the corresponding pre-season fixture last season – appeared headed towards a heavy defeat after the visitors raced into an early 19-0 lead courtesy ofJamie Barnard, Bradley Staples and Caolan Ryan tries, who added a pair of conversions.
A disappointing start but Hawick’s willingness to try to ensure no further damage was inflicted was commendable.
Ferocious defensive work was rewarded when openside flanker Graham hit back in the corner after good set-piece work from the front eight quickly followed by Renwick, who dived over for Hawick’s second. Fly-half Ford added both conversions to bring the Greens to within five points at the break.
In the second half, Hawick’s lack of match sharpness eventually shone through against their full-time opponents.
The continual interchanging of players meant the Robbie Dyes failed to find a rhythm and any hope the Greens had of a win ended when Ben Frankland and Talite Vaioleti touched down, fly-half Sam Allen converting both.