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Match against Stewarts Melville FP (16-Feb-2013)

Date: Saturday, 16th February 2013
Kickoff time: 15:00
Against: Stewarts Melville FP
Team: Hawks 1st XV
Location: Home
Final score: 26 - 15 (won)

To the onlooker it's an easy enough equation, certainly no Fermat's Last Theorem, 6 games, 6 wins and Hawks are back in the Premier Division.; Seemples. But there is the small matter of 90 rugby players, a fixture pile up which has the 6 matches on consecutive Saturdays and three trips to the Borders. A tall order and there may be other possible scenarios whch mean 6 wins won't be needed but 6 will do it.
So to the first hurdle, Stewart's Melville, earlier this season they were the first side to beat Hawks and indeed one of only two sides to have done so. So it was only natural that there was a fair degree of trepidation for the home support as both sides took the field. Early on there was an exhibition of apparent nerves as a couple of kicks to touch missed their mark. The first going long into the in-goal for a scrum and the second a penalty that fell short. At this point Stew Mel had the brighter start putting the hosts under considerable pressure and a score was averted when a solid tackle saw the ball carrier spill the ball for a Hawks scrum.
Hawks then started to drag themselves into the match with a very solid scrum but the lineout seemed to struggle at times. After 10 minutes Hawks were awarded a penalty in the visitors 22, expecting a place kick, Stew Mel were surprised as Paddy Boyer tapped and ran. The move was halted but quick ball saw Andy White pass to his left. The ball found Ally Maxwell, who had to perorm some impromptu juggling before putting the ball to Rory McKay for the opening try. With Mike Adamson missing a wide conversion attempt, the score was restricted to 5. (5-0)
Although Hawks had opened the score Stew Mel continued to apply pressure, the strength of the Hawks defence was pressure as the line came up quickly forcing errors from the visitors back-line. There did seem to be a loss of focus from Hawks as they didn't seem able to use turnover ball to their advantage. Indeed it was another 15 minutes or so before Hawks had Stew Mel on the back foot again. A midfield break from Tom Preece had the stand cheering and took Hawks back into the opponents 22. As the ball was recycled, Adamson put in a cross field kick that saw James Gormley narrowly miss, but it marked a return of the confidence and ambition of the opening score. Hawks appeared to have been frustrated when they were penalised on the line for holding on to the ball. But the penalty from Stew Mel failed to make touch and Hawks counter attacked. David Milne got clear in the 22, before selling a dummy left to full back Richard Borthwick and then stepping right romping home or the second try. Adamson added the extras and in 31 minutes there was clear blue water between the sides. (12-0)
Stew Mel seemed rattled and their kick off went straight into touch. As half time approached Hawks turned up the pressure, their confidence in full flow. A Hawks scrum put Stew Mel under pressure and saw the back row break with Maxwell over for the third of the day. Again Adamson added the 2 points and Hawks were well ahead (19-0).
The only blot on the scoresheet for Hawks was a Seb Trotter penalty on the stroke of half time. (19-3)
Hawks came out for the second half, searching for the bonus point which could prove crucial in the tangle with Hawick. A series of breaks involving some great passing play put the visitors on the back foot. A break on the right wing saw Jono Wright and Milne exchange passes before some frantic defence blunted the attack, then from the ruck Boyer passed to White then Preece and Grant Strang, in turn. The ball came to McKay who broke through finding White in support who was over for the score, bonus try and with Adamson again doing the business it appeared to be job done with about half an hour to spare. (26-3)
It was then a strange thing happened, despite being quite clearly in control of the scoreboard, the home side began to drift and slumber in the game. The first sign came when a lineout was overthrown in 55 minutes, allowing Stew Mel to run at the line. Within minutes a second lineout was overthrown and Hawks were starting to put themselves under pressure, only a knock on from Ben Manning with the line in sight stopped a score. As the hour mark approached Stew Mel got the score they deserved when openside flanker, Donald Sangster rumbled through from a ruck for the score, Borthwick goaled and with 20 minutes to go the visitors were back in the mix. (26-10)
Hawks lost a 3rd lineout in a row when the ball wasn't straight and they placed themselves under more pressure. In the last quarter there was the odd bright move, White seemed to have scored a 5th before the referee called them back for a knock on. The problem faced by the visitors when in possession was poor decision making. As Hawks defence were up on the visitors there seemed to be a fear and hesitancy leading to knock ons and miss passes. All this said, a number of times Hawks caught the yips themselves as the line beckoned, a Stephen Findlay juggling act proving particularly entertaining until the ball went forward.
McKay came close with a few minutes to go, being tackled on the line, but the final score fell to the visitors. As Borthwick ended the match with a long range try which went unconverted making the final score 26-15 to the Hawks.
Job done and with Biggar beating Watsonians, it now seems a straight fight between Hawick and Hawks for the automatic promotion spot. So next weeks trip to Mansfiled Park looks like being a great encounter between two very hungry sides.

Team list for this match
Andrew Kirkland
Andy White
Brodie Clark
Callum Kerr
David Milne
Grant Strang
Jack Macfarlane
James Gormley
John Lohar
Jono Wright
Paddy Boyer
Paul Henderson
Peter Redmayne
Stephen Leckey
Steven Findlay

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