HAWICK marked their return to the Premiership with a doughty performance at Mansfield Park but one that ultimately resulted in defeat by Aberdeen, leaving the Greens with little time to sort out the problems of readjusting to top-level rugby.
Not least of these is the contact area where Hawick’s coach, Phil Leck, readily admitted that his side “had come off second best”, much in part to do with the Greens’ hesitation in engagement but also down to Aberdeen’s superior technique.
That is not the only problem for Hawick. As pressing is the need to find scrum-half cover for the injured Greg Cottrell, who could be out for up to 12 weeks as a result of a pre-season injury. “I’ve made a few enquiries already for a loan player and we should solve this problem soon,” Leck said.
Also injured is Hawick’s talented stand-off Rory Hutton, who may not be back for another four weeks. Hawick’s fortunes therefore could depend on how often they have the services of the Edinburgh pro, Gregor Hunter, who posted an impressive performance for the Greens.
If Saturday’s match at Mansfield Park was a disappointment for Hawick, mitigated by a bonus point, then for Aberdeen it was a relief to taste victory in their first match. “We lost our first seven matches last season, but we’ve got a new team this season and a lot of exciting players” said skipper Greg Ryan.
Among them are two Aucklanders, second row Jamie Metcalfe and number 8 Tom Preece, who have added not just tonnage to the Aberdeen pack but Southern Hemisphere nous.
Aberdeen used their power up front at a crucial stage in the match, by shunting Hawick off their own ball at a set scrum allowing the lively Rob Aloe to skip through unguarded space before off-loading to Sam Bingham, giving the hooker his second try and his side the lead for the first time.
Aberdeen’s other five-pointer was scored by scrum-half Morgan Ward, yet the try of the match came from Hawick, who produced several waves of slick handling before Gary Johnstone went over. Their other points came from the boot of Hunter.