Hawick v Edinburgh Accies
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29th April 2017 - HAWICK 23, EDINBURGH ACCIES 20

This long awaited play-off took place on a dry and bright afternoon on a firm pitch at Lasswade with the Greens anxious to get playing after a 10 week lay-off. There was a good travelling support and a fair number of neutrals in the big crowd, many of whom seemed to be sporting Greens colours!

Despite their obvious nervousness, the Hawick players started well and showed some promising early flourishes which got the crowd going early. Accies were awarded a penalty on the Greens 22 for not rolling away but Appleson was unable to grab the points. When Hawick were given a similar penalty a few minutes later Armstrong made no mistake to put the Greens ahead. The Hawick centre added to his total after 18 mins with a second penalty from short range. However, Hawick seemed to slacken off and the Accies forwards were by now well into the game and put pressure on the Hawick side with some powerful phases leading to a ruck on the 22 in centre field from which scrum-half Glashan, who looked dangerous all day, sold an outrageous dummy to the Greens defence to run in between the posts. Appleson converted for a 7-6 lead.

Accies continued to have the best of the play and forced another kickable penalty for holding on but again Appleton was unable to make the kick. However, on the stroke of the interval, a high tackle from a Greens defender gave him a third opportunity which he kicked high over the post, and although many in the crowd thought the ball drifted past, the touch judges flags went up and Accies went into the dressing rooms 10-6 to the good.

The Hawick faithful were hoping for a change in tempo after the break but were disappointed when Accies came out of the blocks the fastest with a series of attacks which led to a push over try for replacement No 8 Seydak, converted by Appleson for a 17-6 lead after only 3 minutes play. Things got worse for the Greens support when, after too many simple mistakes and penalties from the Hawick players, Appleton got another chance at the 15 mins mark to add to his score and made no mistake for a 20-6 lead and suddenly there were some seriously worried faces amongst the Hawick followers.

However, that proved to be the high water mark for the city side as the Greens, as they so often do when backs are to the wall, seemed to find another gear and lifted the tempo and intensity of their play. A wave of attacks pinned the Accies back near their goal line as drive after drive came in and finally a chance fell to Coutts who powered over with at least two tacklers in tow for a try by the posts. Armstrong made no mistake to cut the deficit to seven points. Then with 10 mins left to play, and with the Greens support in loud voice, the familar sight of Bruce McNeil in full flow raised the roof as he drove off a ruck and over the line for a try which Armstrong converted to tie the scores.

At this point, the Accies players looked shell-shocked as the Hawick side chased the win. With loud vocal support from the terraces, the Hawick players were forcing mistakes from their opponents until, with 35 mins on the clock, Armstrong had another penalty chance from the 22. He completed a faultless display by slotting it between the post and Hawick were 20-23 points up. The remainder of the match was a frantic scramble as Accies threw everything in to save the game but eventually they broke down with a penalty which Armstrong punted into the crowd and the referee blew for full time. Both teams were exhausted by this point but all the players deserve congratulations for the way this match was played.