BOROUGHMUIR now face a severe uphill battle to escape the relegation play-off spot after being beaten 27-20 at Hawick, but head coach Peter Wright found some consolation in a losing bonus point which he believes might be vital at the end of the season.
Just how valuable it is will depend on how Boroughmuir perform in their remaining matches. A win at Mansfield would have seen them leapfrog Hawick into eighth place, but they are now seven points behind the Borderers, eight adrift of Glasgow Hawks and three ahead of bottom club Marr. Losing bonuses are better than nothing, but Wright knows all too well that his team need to pick up at least a couple of wins from their last four matches.
“We’ve got three of our remaining games at home – against Stirling, Heriot’s and Watsonians,” he said. “We’ve got Hawks away from home. That’s a game we have to target.”
Whether home advantage will play its part remains to be seen, but certainly there was enough good play in Boroughmuir’s performance against Hawick to suggest that the Meggetland side will be competitive in their remaining matches. For much of the first half Boroughmuir recycled ball smartly, allowing their back division to threaten the Hawick defence. But they had few answers to the power of Hawick’s scrum and to their ability after the break to hold on to the ball for long periods.
“Fair dues to Hawick,” Wright continued. “They were outstanding in the second half. We just misfired but a lot of that was down to the pressure Hawick were putting on us. It was a fair result. But we got a point which could make all the difference.
“They were the team that wanted it most. Unfortunately we got a couple of injuries to props. They stuck in and we got a point. I take my hat off to George [Graham, the Hawick coach]. At the beginning of the season Hawick were the worst team in the league. He’s brought something to the club. They’re gutsy, they play for the town. He’s won five games in a row. So that’s the form that deserves to keep them in the Premiership.”
This match was all about the relegation battle, but the appearance of the Edinburgh and Scotland flanker John Hardie for his first action after a three-month suspension threatened to be the main story. Until, that was, Hardie left the pitch after only 13 minutes, promptly setting off for West Lothian to receive surgery for a severe gash on his upper lip.
Hawick made a statement of intent from the kick-off with dogged forward play that earned a penalty and three points from the boot of Lee Armstrong, but Boroughmuir playing with tempo and fast recycling of the ball began to threaten and were rewarded with a try under the posts from their mobile loosehead Dale Robertson. Bizarrely, the conversion attempt by Chris Laidlaw was charged down by Hawick’s Dom Buckley. Laidlaw quickly atoned with a penalty goal for an 8-3 advantage, but in the final 10 minutes of the first half Hawick’s powerful pack, in which props Shawn Muir and Nicky Little were outstanding, turned the screw to earn two penalty tries for a 17-8 half-time lead.
Boroughmuir ate into Hawick’s lead early in the second half with with a try from a driven lineout by cheeky winger Jordan. Edmunds, capitalising on the hard work of the big boys in the pack, only for Hawick to reply in identical manner as Bruce McNeil forced himself over. Then after the game had gone to uncontested scrums replacement hooker Fraser Renwick bundled over for Hawick’s bonus-point try but in the sixth minute of stoppage time lock Rob Ure scored for Boroughmuir, leaving Kieran Whyte to kick the conversion which gave the Meggetland men that bonus point of their own.