Saints Pre-Season Friendly at Hawick YM
A large squad travelled on Saturday for the first warm up game of the season against Hawick YM who were promoted last season to the East version of our Championship League. They have suffered a drastic loss of players to bigger clubs so with their front row bolstered by last years Saints colt Adam Prentice and new to Saints this season Grant Duffy plus a couple of Gala players courtesy of George Graham, whose big team had an earlier kick off against Hawick on the neighbouring Mansfield Park, and a couple of Kelso players thrown in for good measure, they were set to give Saints a good pre season test.
The coaches agreed on 4 X 20 minute periods to try out different combinations, Saints started with;
Andrew Wilson, Andrew Whiteford, Sam Hiddleston, Tom Hiddleston, Graeme Gemmell, Jordan Kerr, Johnnie Campion, Sean Graham, Fraser Paul, Gareth McCall, Ali Mather, Daniel Henderson, Will Greene, Villi Satalla and Andy McGaw. Keeping Kenny Henderson, Ben Johnstone, Michael Yates, Wicksy and Gregory Robinson waiting for their opportunity
Early exchanges were even with both teams looking rusty before YM started to dominate possession. Saints had the best defensive record in the league last season and one of the best in Scotland and were looking every bit as dogged and structured. Problems arose when we had possession with knock ons and pressure at the back of the scrum leading to the first unconverted try going to YM right at the end of the first period.
The home side started the second period with confidence but this time a turnover on our own 5 metre line gave Kenny Henderson the chance to run in a try from his own half. Tom Hiddleston converted. Hawick YM showed how being brought up in rugby town produces rugby brains and committed fewer players to the breakdown leaving their strong running No 8 Ewan Hogg and a big second row out as impact runners. This pair made a lot of yards and sucked in defenders which created spaces out wide and the next score went to then through some uncustomary naivety in the Saints wide defence, this time they converted to go 10 : 7 up.
In the third period we got Adam and Grant back and last seasons colt Gregory Robinson came on at No 8 for his first senior appearance and immediately made an impact with his robust rucking and tackling. As players were getting tired tackles were being missed and we leaked tries. Sam Hiddleston spotted a telegraphed move and intercepted the ball on the half way line and ran in with the support of Andrew Whiteford, Sam converted with a drop goal and we are back in 26:14.
In the 4th period some determined work by Villi turned them over and slick hands put the ball out wide to Andrew Wilson who had put in a hard shift all afternoon working off scraps and he showed what he could do with good possession and ran in a very well taken try. Tom converted and at 26 : 21 the game was there for the fitter Saints squad. Kenny Henderson collected the ball on the YM 22 in front of their posts and with 4 men outside him and 4 men in front of him saw something that looked like a gap and opted to run instead of pass and bounced and stepped his way through to touch down under the posts. Tom converted and we are 26 : 28 up. YM were not for lying down and camped inside Saints 22, with their backs to the line Saints are hard to beat and hack through from Tom Hiddleston followed by a chip ahead from Kenny Henderson bounced for Ben Johnstone who finished it well for Tom to convert and that was the final score 26 : 33.
A lot of positives and a lot for Coach Tam McGaw to work on. His army buddy, Gala coach George Graham watched the last 2 periods to gain some insight in to Saints forward play before he comes to do 3 guest coaching sessions on lineouts on Monday 3rd September, scrums on Monday 10th September and rucking on Monday 17th September. We need to use these session to maximum benefit with all senior forwards taking part and all age grade coaches and their forwards watching and listening to George Graham take sessions.
Ali Mather gets some height
Tom Hiddlestone gets ready to step
Sam Hiddleston gets ready to pass
Kenny Henderson gets ready to go past the YM winger
Kenny does it again but leaves Johnnie Campion with an obstacle to hurdle
Daniel needs to get lower going into contact
Tom, Sam and Andrew Wilson a formidable attacking trio
The YM blindside about to learn that Michael Yates always breaks the first tackle
Villi Satalla on a run with Gregory Robinson and Adan Prentice in support
Andy Whiteford runs out of defence
Sam on his interception try
Andrew Wilson wrong foots the YM defence
The travelling support