Hawick 32 Peebles 20
20 February 2010
D P T Scribe at a very chilly Mansfield Haugh
This Scottish Hydro Premier 2 match against Hawick was always going to be a tough ask against the promotion chasing Greens as they try to limit their only drop from the top division to one season.
The morning started cold and foggy before the sun came out for a bright but chilly afternoon. Before the team left Peebles, whilst the game was definitely on, the actual venue in Hawick was not decided until about 30 minutes before kickoff, and I am sure the travelling support were very appreciative of the regular Radio Borders updates that made sure by the time of kick off we knew where we were heading for.
With the decision made, the crowd assembled round Mansfield Haugh, Hawick YM’s ground, with some of the Hawick Supporters and the Radio Borders commentary team, preferring the elevated end of Mansefield Park to view the game.
Whilst the home side always seemed the more dangerous on the break and dominated territory especially in the last 20 minutes, the Tweed Homes sponsored Peebles led for much of the game; their offensive defence holding off wave after wave of attacks.
The home side kicked off and quickly won the ball back. In their first attack, Peebles were caught diving over and Graham Hogg narrowly missed the penalty attempt.
Five minutes later he slotted the second for a 3-0 lead as the Gytes men were caught off side in their 22.
Hawick were straight on the attack from the restart and only the resolute defence held them out. The visitors won a scrum on their own line and cleared up field, and with a penalty made it all the way to the lineout 5 metres from the home line. From the lineout, Peebles went blind and good handling from Fraser Strachan to Donald Sangster whose deft pass found James Oakes who went through the Hawick defence almost unchallenged to take the lead, with Neil Warnock adding the conversion for 3-7.
Hawick retaliated straight from the kick off, turned the ball over and went wide left for winger Steve Anderson to make the corner and reclaim the lead at 8-7.
Undaunted the Tweed Homes sponsored side mounted several attacks showing that they could handle and break the gain line as well as the Greens, but the final moves were lost in turnovers or missed passes. With ball in hand Hawick again challenged the Peebles line again and again. On the 23rd minute a small altercation resulted in a yellow for Steve Gee 3 metres from the previous line. From the Hawick scrum, their attack petered out with a knock on and Peebles cleared the immediate danger, subsequently winning a penalty inside the home half, which Neil Warnock came very close with.
A Peebles lineout 10 metres from the line was claimed by Hawick and the home side took the advantage with prop Neil Douglas bursting through tackles, running 22 metres to score putting them 13-7 ahead on 23 minutes. Another missed penalty after Peebles centre Dale Clancy was unable to roll away after the tackle was missed 10 minutes later when Hawick could easily have extended their lead.
They came very close when an attack failed on the left but an astute cross field kick found winger Michael Graham. A superb covering tackle into touch in goal by Donald Sangster stopped the try. David Anderson who had stepped in at full back for his injured brother was sidelined with an injury which meant re-jigging the line up with Steve Gee moving to full back, Craig Borthwick to centre and David Brown on in the back row.
The visitors did not seem fazed by the changes and before the break, Neil Warnock again narrowly missed a penalty and one minute into stoppage, a Peebles lineout won by Matt Thompson was quickly transferred to Fraser Strachan, Neil Warnock and then laid off to Craig Borthwick who bullocked through the defence before releasing Dale Clancy 5 metres from the line to go under the posts; Neil Warnock claiming the conversion for a 1 point interval lead.
From the re-start, Hawick knocked on but Peebles were unable to capitalise, however Hawick standoff Dean McCracken received a 10 minute enforced rest and Neil Warnock knocked the ball of the upright to extend the Peebles lead to 4 points 13-17.
Peebles were able to use their superiority to attack and when Allan Smellie charged through the middle and was stopped inches from the line it looked like another try was on the cards, however it was not to be and Hawick cleared.
Midway through the second half, Bruce McNeil made another strong run into the Peebles defence, off loading to No 8 David Lowrie who went over in the corner to reclaim the lead by one point.
A yellow for a deliberate knock down gave James Oakes a 10 minute rest. The result was 20 minutes of pressure on the Peebles line other than a few brief pushes to the Hawick line.
On 23 minutes, Neil Warnock put Peebles 2 points ahead with another penalty, but this was cancelled out by a final 5 minutes, when on 41 minutes Graham Hogg got involved in a forward drive and scored with Gary Johnson converting and on the 45th minute when Michael Robertson drove over to deny Peebles the losing bonus and Gary Johnston converted to end proceedings.
There is certainly justification that other than some slip ups in attack, with the exceptionally strong offensive defence, that Peebles could have taken the game and it was very unfortunate that the endeavours were not better regarded at the end of the day.
Peebles can look forward positively to the Scottish Hydro Cup & Radio Borders Border League game against Melrose at the Gytes tomorrow, at midday, with confidence that they can compete and bring off an upset against Melrose who slipped up at Boroughmuir last week.