Heriot’s played the whole of the second half with 14 men after Stuart Edwards was red-carded by referee Graham Wells for a tackle on Rory Hutton, and coach Phil Smith was unhappy when they were denied what they felt was a clear try by Max Learmonth in the last of the extra eight minutes added on for an ankle injury to Russell Nimmo.
Hawick were reduced to 13 men for several minutes after Matt Landels and Scott Peffers were yellow-carded in the first half, but it was resolute work by the home defence which denied Heriot’s onslaught in the final ten minutes of the match.
“That was a tremendous performance,” said former Scottish internationalist Scott MacLeod, who has been assisting at the training. “The players’ determination to hold them out was immense.
“It was an outstanding performance from all of the boys. They defended to stop Heriot’s from scoring and it is massive for the town (to get to the final). It was an outstanding effort.”
There was less enthusiasm in the Heriot’s camp with regard to referee Graeme Wells’ decision, after consultation with touch judge Stephen Ward, not to award a try.
“You can talk about the red card, but that, in my mind, was a try,” Smith said.
“We had hoped to get to Murrayfield and we are in contention for the league, but that was a big blow to us.”
Heriot’s will look back at a first half which they dominated through the power of their forwards, and yet trailed 6-3 at the interval.
Hawick gave away a succession of penalties as Heriot’s pressed into the rain and the gale to break down the home defence before Graham Wilson put over a kick in 12 minutes.
Wilson, usually renowned for his accuracy, missed a total of three kicks at goal as Heriot’s battled to gain supremacy only to fall behind to two Lee Armstrong penalties in the space of seven minutes late in the first half.
Two breaks by Hutton almost broke the Heriot’s defence after the interval, but in the last ten minutes Hawick held firm to see out victory despite Heriot’s thinking they had won it at the death before their try was ruled out.
Hawick were the first winners of the cup in 1996 and as a result of reaching the final, they have had to defer their sevens tournament from cup final day, 18 April, to Sunday, 10 May.
Secretary John Thorburn said: “We recognise the inconvenience caused by this unavoidable change, but we hope that it will be manageable by all our members, sponsors and guests.”
Scorers: Hawick: Pens: Armstrong (2). Heriot’s: Pen: Wilson.
Hawick: L Armstrong; S Peffers, N Walker, G Johnstone, S McLeod; R Hutton, G Cottrell; S Muir, L Gibson, M Landels, M McKee, B McNeil, N Mactaggart, K Davies, R Scott. Replacements: R Graham, W Blacklock, N McLennan, M Robertson, R Gibson, S Goodfellow, M Douglas.
Heriot’s: G Bryce; C Simpson, M Learmonth, K Buchan, C Goudie; S Edwards, G Wilson; N Borel, D McGregor, S Cessford, R Nimmo, J Turley; J Armstrong, J Hill, J McLean. Replacements: G Turner, S Mustard, J P Ward, J Syme, D Levison, G McNeish, J. Laird.
Referee: G Wells.