Hawick 28

Currie Chieftains 39

Atholl Innes at Mansfield Park

OPENING games of the season are never easy as both clubs discovered on Saturday at Mansfield Park.

Hawick, who won a play-off to retain its Premiership status, left it too late to fight off the newly named Chieftains, but in a physical battle, scored two very late tries to salvage a bonus point out of nothing.

Craig Hamilton, the former Scottish internationalist, was in charge of the side with coach Darren Cunningham out of the country, and he admitted there remained many positives from the match even in defeat.

“A defeat at home is hard to take at the start of the season, but we played some good rugby and looked dangerous at times,” he said.

The inclusion of Darcy Graham, who scored a try and ended up in the medical room at the end of a tough contest, added strength to the Hawick side, which never recovered from a 14-39 deficit at one point.

However, Hawick dug deep to score twice in the extra 10 minutes added by referee Keith Allen following a series of stoppages due to injury.

There was no shortage of entertainment with nine tries, but it was Currie’s early clinical finishing that left the Greens too big a mountain to climb despite showing loads of spirit.

Currie played with a power and passion to impose their dominance in a first half that produced fast, open rugby in the ideal conditions to deservedly go in at the break 27-7 ahead the interval.

Graham kept home hopes alive as it cut the deficit to seven points and Ali Weir, who missed two penalties, converted. Currie scored an early penalty try and yellow-carded Dalton Redpath before Charlie Shiel, son of ex-Melrose cap Graham, added a second, Jamie Forbes converting. Stephen Ainslie added a third try, Forbes again converted and kicked a penalty, for a 27-7 half-time lead.

Currie collected the bonus point in 46 minutes, Ruaridh Smith touching down and Forbes converting.

Midway through the half, Kyle Brunton scored and Weir converted, but Harvey Elms added a fifth try to stamp Currie’s authority.

The hosts found strong resilience for Ross Combe to touch down and add a penalty try in the 10th minute of injury time.

Hawick: A. Weir; D. Graham, L. Armstrong, D. Buckley, R. Combe. K. Brunton, G. Munro; S. Muir, N. Little, K. Bryce, D. Redpath, K. McNeil, S. Graham, B. McNeil, R. Gibson. Replacements: M. Landels, D. Johnstone, K. Davies, G. Graham, G. Cottrell.