Hawick head coach George Graham was happy that his side started the new-look Tennent’s Premiership season with a win at Musselburgh on Saturday, but he believes they can still become more clinical in the coming weeks.
That may be an ominous sign for their league rivals, because the Greens ran in eight tries as they notched up 50 points against a dogged home side on a glorious day in East Lothian.
For the visitors young backs Bailey Donaldson and Logan Gordon-Woolley showed glimpses of what they are capable, of while tighthead prop Craig Bachurzewski, a former Poland international cap, was strong at scrum-time and also weighed in with two tries.
Musselburgh were playing in their first top-flight league match since 1987/88 and despite going 12-0 down early on they fought back to rattle Hawick at times before fitness told in the last 20 minutes.
Their head coach, Graeme Paterson, and his players will still have taken a lot from the game, though, and it seems clear that players such as captain Michael Maltman and scrum-half Danny Owenson will be key for them in the months to come.
After the game, Graham, pictured, said: “Any time you score 50 points, especially in a league opener, you have to be pretty happy, but I want the boys to be hyper-critical of their performances this season.
“We scored some good tries,” he continued. “But I thought that we left a few out there and that is down to game management.
“There are a lot of young players in this squad and it will take them a bit of time to learn to boss the older forwards about and really dictate the game that we want to play.
“Decision-making is also something that comes with experience, but I do want to praise the team for making a good start to the league campaign and we really have a good base to build from now.”
Hawick got off to a flying start, scoring the first try of the day after just five minutes when Bachurzewski made it over the line with full-back Ali Weir converting.
Winger Gordon-Woolley sprinted down the left for Hawick’s second try to make it 12-0 soon afterwards, but Musselburgh are no pushovers, and when they scored a penalty try and then Hawick second-row Daniel Suddon was yellow-carded it was game on again.
After some handbags involving a number of players, Maltman and Hawick’s Bruce McNeil were also yellow-carded, before Owenson’s converted try put the hosts 14-12 up.
Hawick got back on top with three tries before the interval, scored by Bachurzewski, captain Shawn Muir and Gordon-Woolley to make it 29-14.
Musselburgh hung on with the first score of the second half, a converted try by winger Tom Foley, but it was all Hawick after that. They took a time before finally turning pressure into points, but they eventually made sure of a sizeable victory with further tries from stand-off Donaldson, flanker Stuart Graham and centre Andrew Mitchell.