The posts were down at Mayfield, so this re-scheduled match was transferred to Riverside, where a calm, mild day and a flat, firm pitch made for ideal conditions, as the Titans entertained a Hawick side which could muster only 14 players.
Dundee kicked off and started brightly, but it was the visitors who opened the scoring, with a penalty by their stand-off after Dundee were adjudged offside during a Hawick drive near the Dundee line. 0-3 after 6 minutes.
A spell of Hawick pressure followed, but Dundee’s defence was solid and eventually a long clearance kick took play to the Hawick half. Dundee won possession and the ball was taken on by Joe Nakavulevu, who passed to Cammy McCrimmon, to score in the corner. His conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but Dundee were ahead 5-3 with 16 minutes played.
A spell of equal, mid-field play followed, with the only scoring chance being a long-range penalty attempt by Hawick which shaved the outside of the post. Then a turn-over on half-way led to a break by Cammy McCrimmon, with Christian Avis in support, running clear to touch down under the posts, leaving Cammy with a simple conversion attempt. 27 minutes gone and Dundee ahead 12-3.
Dundee were moving the ball well, but handling errors were preventing any sustained pressure on the visitors. From one such error, Hawick were able to clear to near the Dundee 22 and mount an attack, leading to a penalty offence by Dundee on the 22 in front of the posts. The Hawick No 10 slotted the kick and the lead was reduced: 12-6 after 37 minutes.
Hawick were back on the attack and the Dundee line was under threat, but a final pass went astray, bringing the half-time whistle.
Half-time: Dundee Titans 12 Hawick 2nd XV 6
Although it had been a fairly close half, there was considerable encouragement in the Dundee performance, with some structured play and a positive commitment in the break-down areas, which had not always been so evident in previous matches. But for some indifferent handling and kicking, the score might have been greater in Dundee’s favour. Nevertheless, with a developing on-shore breeze at their backs, there was some optimism that Dundee could build on their lead in the second half.
Indeed, Dundee started well, but a knock-on led to a Hawick break and a penalty against Dundee. The Hawick stand-of landed his third penalty goal and the visitors were just 3 points behind: 12-9 with 3 minutes of the half gone.
Hawick lost the ball from the re-start, however, and a fine break by James Mulligan, followed by a pass to Murray Devine led to a try. The conversion was unsuccessful, but the lead was increased to 8 points: 45 minutes played and Dundee ahead 17-9.
That lead lasted only two minutes, however, because Hawick hit back immediately from the re-start, with their impressive Scotland U-20 No12 making the most of ineffective Dundee tackling to run from about half-way to score under the posts. The stand-off converted and the lead was reduced to just one point. 17-16 after 45 minutes.
Hawick took the initiative after the re-start and were soon pressing in the Dundee red zone. Penalty offences were not helping the Dundee effort and a yellow card award further damaged their cause. Hawick took a scrum option at a penalty on the home 5 metre line and pushed over for a converted try which put them into the lead for the first time, 17-23 after 55 minutes.
A buoyed Hawick were on the attack again and worked the ball well to the Dundee line for an unconverted try by their No 13. 17-28 with 58 minutes played.
Hope sprang for Dundee some two minutes later, after Hawick had kicked to touch from the kick-off. The ball was won by debutant Brenton Becker, who galloped some 40 metres to score. The conversion was missed and the score moved to 22-28 after 60 minutes.
It was Hawick’s turn for an attacking spell after the re-start and after a good break by their No5, Dundee were penalised in their 22 and the Hawick stand-off took the goal chance, moving the score to 31-22 with 66 minutes played, and meaning that Dundee would need two scores to regain the lead.
Dundee’s cause was aided by a Hawick knock-on at the re-start and Dundee attacked from the scrum. A kick through was too long, however, but Hawick’s drop-out went straight into touch. A Dundee knock-on, however, saw the chance lost and slack Dundee defending led to Hawick kicking through. When Dundee were penalised on their 5 metre line, Hawick took advantage of their now dominant set scrum to choose the scrummage option. Four times Dundee were penalised under scrummage pressure and each time Hawick elected to re-scrum, leading to observers on both sides wondering why a penalty try had not been awarded.. On the final occasion, a yellow card was awarded against Dundee, meaning the next scrum was uncontested. Unable to exert a push, Hawick instead moved the ball left for their No 12 to touch down in the corner. The stand-off’s kick was successful and Hawick were ahead 22-38 with a minute of normal time remaining.
At the death, Dundee were awarded their first penalty of the half and ran the ball, only for a knock-on to bring the final whistle.
Full-time: Dundee Titans 22 Hawick 2nd XV 38
After the optimism from the first half performance, it was disappointing that Dundee fell away in the second half. It seemed that the loss of stand-off Cammy McCrimmon through injury made a damaging difference to the structure of the back line, but mention must also be made of the bizarre penalty count. Almost equal at half-time, 6-5 in Dundee’s favour, the second period saw 11 penalties to Hawick, to just the one, late award to Dundee. All credit to Hawick, however, who stuck in gamely in spite of their numerical disadvantage and the early scoring deficit.
Tries: McCrimmon, Avis, Devine, Becker
Dundee Player of the Match: Brenton Becke