HAWICK moved closer to a place in the top grade of Scottish rugby with an impressive win over RBS National League leaders Watsonians in one of the few Borders games to beat the horrendous weekend weather.
Scorers: Hawick: Tries: Coutts (3), Johnstone. Con: Armstrong. Pens: Renwick, Armstrong. Watsonians: Try: Rennie. Con: Walls. Pens: Walls (3).
The victory pushed the Greens into second place in the table just ahead of Glasgow Hawks, while also maintaining the pressure on Watsonians.
Hawick collected a bonus point, and the win was the perfect Christmas gift for the players and their passionate supporters.
John Coutts led the way with a hat-trick of tries, his bonus-winning touchdown coming just five minutes from the end after Watsonians had a player sent to the sin-bin.
“It could be the win of the season,” said Coutts. “That was the first time that I had scored three tries for Hawick and they came at the right place at the right time. We have the players and are capable of beating the top teams like Watsonians. We now just need to keep going.”
On a muddy and heavy pitch, both sides contributed to an open game in which Hawick’s handling and defensive qualities were crucial.
It left disappointment in the Watsonians camp from a team which had won its last ten league matches in a row.
“We were disappointed in the way we played the game,” said assistant coach Andrew Ker. “But Hawick knew that they had to win and came out all guns blazing.
“We were fortunate to be only ten points down at one stage and we thought we could get a point out of the game in the second half, but going down to 14 men did not help.
“On the day, Hawick wanted it more and were much hungrier than we were.”
Coutts scored the first of his tries in ten minutes and Gary Johnstone claimed a second, but Brian Walls kept Watsonians in the hunt with two penalties, so that at the interval, after Neil Renwick had added a penalty for the hosts, the score stood at 13-6.
Hawick maintained the moment after the interval, Coutts going on to complete his hat-trick and Lee Armstrong kicking a conversion and penalty.
Mark Rennie’s late try and a Walls penalty and conversion gave Watsonians hope, but the yellow card issued to Dylan Rutherford effectively ended the contest.
Hawick: N Renwick; J Coutts, L Armstrong, G Johnstone, S Anderson; R Hutton, G Cottrell; S Muir, L Gibson, L Launders, C. Smith, K Willison, S Graham, K Davies, N Mactaggart. Subs: M Landels, H Scammell, D Lowrie, N McColm, G Hogg.
Watsonians: A Chalmers; J Niven, R Aitken, T Hart, E Miller; M Ker, B Walls; M Heather, D Rutherford, C Gamboa, C Harvey, M Rennie, J Jones, H Grant, C Scott. Replacements: M Henderson, D Johnston, A Joseph, D Fraser, C Smith.
Referee: G Wells.