Lasswade 22 Hawick YM 17
Lasswade retained the National Shield after an epic final against Hawick YM at Murrayfield this afternoon.
The success was deserved particularly for the sterling work of the Lasswade pack in which Man of the Match loose-head prop and two try hero Dale Robertson gave a reasonable impersonation of the Duracell bunny. But plaudits too should go to Hawick YM such was the zip with which they played, epitomised by stand-off Lee Armstrong.
Robertson, a game-keeper and local lad, was hailed by his coach Dave Cockburn, a man who knew a bit about propping in his playing days with the championship winning Boroughmuir side.
Robertson noted: “We had to work really hard for this today and that makes it all the sweeter for us. We have Premier rugby to look forward to next season and we’ll need to extend the squad but we’ve got a good seconds – most of them are under 24 – and some good young players coming through from the Colts too.”
Lasswade started purposefully and some direct running inside the Hawick YM 22 earned them a second minute penalty. However Gavin Brown was off target.
In the YM’s response there was some hard, straight-running in midfield, finished off with some aplomb as Alistair Weir released his left wing and Glyn Desport romped in for the opening try. Lee Armstrong missed the conversion but the National League Division 2 champions led by 5-0.
The game had begun at a cracking tempo and with 15 minutes played Lasswade struck, as loose-head prop Robertson escaped a tackle about 25 metres out and, complete with goose-step, dotted down at the railway end. Wood converted and Lasswade, champions of National League Division 1, had hit the front at 7-5.
The script suggested that Lasswade would turn the screw here but not a bit of it as YM remained resolute.
Some neat inter-play involving Scott McLeod and Ross Gibson appeared to have set substitute Neil McColm free but McLeod’s pass was ruled forward.
However, McColm’s dancing feet and an intelligent kick from Dean McCracken kept YM deep in Lasswade territory and, from lineout possession, YM’s stand-off Armstrong surged in under the posts for a try which he converted.
Back stormed Lasswade and shortly after No 8 Gavin Brown was held up on the try line, lock Donald Hearn drove over for the equalising try.
Lasswade kept pressing as the interval loomed but YM held firm.
Half-time: Lasswade 12 Hawick YM 12
Both kickers mis-cued with penalty chances in the opening salvoes of the second-half, Armstrong’s effort bouncing off the left upright.
In the 56th minute Lasswade’s pack mounted a drive on the right from which recycled ball was moved left where sub Neil Durie was denied. However from the ruck livewire Robertson was again on hand to claim his second try.
YM centre Dean McCracken was sin-binned for a punch and Lasswade sought to make their extra man advantage tell.
But not for long as in the 62nd minute Gavin Brown, Lasswade’s No 8, was also yellow carded for a swinging arm and YM’s adventure, as they ran a penalty in the Lasswade 22, was rewarded as centre Scott McLeod waltzed in for their third try. Armstrong saw his conversion drift to left of the posts to leave the scores tied at 17-all.
The contest continued to ebb and flow as Wood made decent contact with a 67th minute penalty attempt, only for that too to miss the target.
With thoughts turning to extra-time Lasswade manufactured space on the right and their big substitute winger Gavin Sharp crossed in the corner to give them a 22-17 lead with under ten minutes remaining but it was a gap that was to prove insurmountable for YM.
Lasswade: Jamie Carmichael; Kyle Smith, James Elliot, Bernie Hennessy, Niall Gray; Nick Wood, Neil Clark; Dale Robertson, Graeme Cook, Mark Billingham CAPTAIN, Dougie Grant, Donald Hearn, Richard Borthwick, Gavin Brown and Craig Quigley. Subs: Blair Smith, Neil Durie, Alistair Elliot, Gavin Sharp, Joe Taylor, Russell Gladstone, Rory McKenzie
Hawick YM: Alistair Weir; Chris Ritson, Scott McLeod, Dean McCracken, Glyn Desport; Lee Armstrong, Bruce Campbell; Billy Lilly CAPTAIN, Garry Douglas, Alistair Turnbull, Steven Mabon, Lewis Mallin, Craig Robson, Ross Gibson and Stephen Hill. Subs: Ross Taylor, Gregor Welsh, Shaun Desport, Graeme Cannon, Ryan Halliday, Neil McColm, Jamie Tinlin.
Referee: Frazer Balharry (Arbroath)