Heriot’s winning sequence came to a juddering halt on Saturday as Hawick revived memories of the famous New Year’s day fixtures at Goldenacre with a performance that produced their fourth Premiership victory.
An eighth successive win seemed on the cards but against a Hawick side that defended tenaciously, produced a degree of creativity – notably through Ally Weir and goal kicker Gary Johnstone – and which seemed to have rediscovered self-belief, Heriot’s looked distinctly second best.
The home side had looked potential winners in the opening quarter when they dominated both possession and territory only to be let down by a lack of discipline that allowed Hawick to claw their way back into the game.
Then in the second half the discipline issue became a match-loser after the Goldenacre men collected two yellow cards reducing them to 13 at one point in the match.
“We were penalised off the park” suggested Heriot’s coach, Phil Smith, adding : “We were hit by technical offences, the worst being a doubtful crossing call when a score looked likely. All in all it was a 17-7 penalty count against us. But to be fair our line-out didn’t function well. We overthrew several times and that proved expensive. And our error count was too big.”
The Heriot’s coach was rightly disappointed about a yellow card shown to Keith Buchan after the full-back was penalised for checking Ally Weir following a delicate chip ahead. “I’ve looked at the video and Keith did not move” stated Smith, a view shared by Hawick legend Jim Renwick.
Worse still, referee Charles Samson, in concentrating on what he considered a yellow card offence committed by Buchan, blew his whistle a fraction of a second before Hawick’s replacement flanker Keith Davies gathered the bouncing ball and touched down for a try. Not a good day at the office.
If Heriot’s were having an off day then the opposite was true of Hawick, who had come into this match on the back of unsatisfactory preparation.
“We had the worst training session we’ve ever had on Thursday. It was completely lack-lustre,” said Phil Leck, the Hawick coach. “I just told the boys to play with heart and stop feeling sorry for themselves for playing big hard sides every week.
“As soon as they get it in their heads they’ll have a go at anybody. Never say ‘dead and buried’ to a green shirt.”
Leck also picked out his stand-off for special mention.
“That’s the best I’ve seen Ally Weir play,” he added. “He played intelligently and the little chips he put in really countered their fast defence. He was my man of the match today.”
Hawick’s other hero was full-back Neil Renwick, who kicked six penalty goals and converted a second-half try by Bruce McNeill, compensation for the Davies non-try.
For Heriot’s, Liam Steele scored a first-half try from turnover ball and a quick break by Cammy Ferguson, who was the scorer of his side’s second try, with Graham Wilson scoring the other points from a conversion goal and two penalties.