The South of Scotland team turned round a 0-19 scoreline in the first quarter of their match at Stirling yesterday against Caledonia Reds, to run in six tries and win the match 40-24. It was a match put on to raise funds for the Doddie Weir Motor Neurone Disease Trust and succeeded in raising over £5500. On the pitch Caledonia raced into a 19-0 lead with three tries from Jonny Hope, Erland Oag and Ruairidh Leishman, with Jonny Hope converting two of them. Just before the break Calum Marshall managed to squeeze himself over the line to give The South a lifeline, with Gregor Hunter adding the extras.
There was still plenty of work to do but Kevin Barrie’s side responded to his chat at the turn and Graham Speirs crossed for a second half try following a break by Hunter. Hunter’s conversion reduced the deficit to 5 points, and when Ewan Scott side-stepped his way past two defenders for The South’s third touchdown (also converted by Hunter) the team from the Borders got their noses in front. Lee Armstrong’s solo effort score next was well received as he dived over under the posts to give The South a 28-19 lead, Hunter goaling his fourth successful conversion in the process.
Caley Reds came back with a well-worked try finished off by Logan Trotter with eight minutes to go, but a score from Dalton Redpath following more excellent work from Hunter sealed the match. Armstrong bagged a second try right at the death with Hunter kicking his fifth conversion as the final whistle blew. The 10 National 1 players in the starting XV for The South can justifiably be proud of their efforts against Caledonia’s 13-strong BT Premiership boys, but so can Hawick’s five starters who tasted victory last night for the first time this season. The South remain unbeaten this century in their four games against Caledonia (twice), Northumberland and The Barbarians, and this was their first match outwith the Borders since 1997.
It is no secret that The South have had tentative talks among most of their Border League club members with a view to possibly putting a bid in for one of the two floating Super Six franchise spots up for grabs, and on the evidence on the pitch last night a South team would certainly be competitive in such a competition. Of course with full details about rules and regulations yet to come out regarding the Super Six competition, it’s all speculation for now, but it will be very interesting to see if the South of Scotland could be at the Super Six table along with Melrose, who are likely to get the Borders franchise should they decide to bid for it, when the successful clubs are announced next year.