Preview: Improving Hawick aim to shock title-chasing Ayr

By Ronan Alexander

TENNENT’S Premiership league leaders Ayr make the long trip to Hawick on Saturday with the Greens aiming to dent the visitors title hopes.

Ayr come into the match top of the table after a narrow 14-7 victory against Boroughmuir at the weekend, keeping Peter Murchie’s men one point ahead of second place Melrose.

ayr v b'muir

Photos by George McMillan.

For the hosts, they sit eighth in the table after improving in recent months, collecting back-to-back wins over Currie Chieftans and Glasgow Hawks.

However, the Teries suffered a heavy 37-7 defeat to bottom side Edinburgh Accies at the weekend. It was Accies first victory in the league this season after losing 14 consecutive matches.

Part of the Hawick squad that has started to pick up better results in recent weeks is 19-year-old scrum half Gareth Welsh, who was also part of the team that suffered the frustrating loss to Accies on Saturday.

welshy

Photo by John Collinson

He said: “The squad are very disappointed in that result because we could have secured our place in the Premiership and it just means we have to do it the hard way now by picking up points here and there.”

However, after falling to defeat against the league’s bottom club, Hawick now turn their attention to playing the side top of the league.

With strong home form, Welsh believes the Series can fancy their chances against anyone at Mansfield Park.

He said: “Especially after last week, we’ll be expecting a reaction from everyone so we’ll all be trying to impress, show we care and that we want to play for the club as we were poor on Saturday but want to kick on.”

After needing to be patient to get his chance in the team having played regularly for Hawick Force, Welsh has grabbed the opportunity with both hands and aims to keep improving.

He added: “I want to keep my starting place and make myself a key player.

“In my position you need to make a lot of important decisions and choices.

“When we lost 13-12 to Watsonians I made a decision to go down the blind side to go and score but if I’d worked it closer to the posts, the score probably would have came and we’d have had an easy kick to win the game.

“So it’s just about learning from things like that just now as I know I’m still young and inexperienced, but want to be seen as an old head on young shoulders.”

Full interview with Gareth Welsh:

For the visitors, they come into the game after back-to-back wins. The first came against second place Melrose, with a 22-point haul from former Scarlets fly-half Frazier Climo helped Ayr to a 32-15 win at the Greenyards in a repeat of last year’s final.

Last Saturday saw the men from Millbrae pick up a narrow 14-7 triumph over sixth place Boroughmuir courtesy of tries from Grant Anderson, and six-time Scotland cap Pat McArthur.

When the two teams met in league action at Mansfield Park last season, Ayr came out on top with a 32-19 victory.

However, Ayr Head Coach Peter Murchie will need to keep his eye on dangerous Hawick centre Andrew Mitchell. The 18-year-old earned himself a Scotland Under-19 call up last month before playing for Newcastle Falcons Academy in a 22-14 win against Yorkshire Carnegie at the beginning of January.

This morning, Ayr utility back Scott Lyle departed the club to join Italian Pro 12 side San Dona who are ninth in the table.

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