Welsh seals first final

Watsonians 15 Hawick 17
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Hawick came from three scores down to lay claim to the first Tennents 1556 Scottish Cup final with a stirring 17-15 victory over Watsonians in front of a crowd of 22,000 at Murrayfield yesterday.

The winner's stand-off, Scott Welsh, capped the revival with a try six minutes from time to ensure that whenever there is an innovation in Scottish rugby, Hawick's team are right to the fore. The first winners of the world's oldest competition, the Border League, in 1902 and the inaugural National League in 1974, the Cup success completed a neat piece of symmetry for the club.

After accepting the trophy, the Hawick skipper, Brian Renwick, alluded to that history, saying: "There was a lot on our shoulders. Not another club in Scotland has a history like ours. But today a lot of young players came through and made their own history." At the heart of Hawick's success was the front row of Jim McDonnell, Jim Hay and Andrew Johnstone, who frequently wrecked the Watsonian scrummage possession.

Watsonian's skipper, Fergus Henderson, was at a loss to explain how a 15-0 lead had been squandered, remarking: "In previous rounds we have been killing teams off, but they scored just before half-time and started to dominate everything. If you play well and get beaten, at least you feel you have justified your potential. Today we felt we let our coaches down."

Watsonians started superbly with Duncan Hodge landing a penalty then sending Scott Hastings charging through for a try which Hodge converted. When Hodge went over soon after, it seemed a case of how many Watsonians would cruise home by.

But then Hawick, a close-knit club drawn exclusively from a small town, rallied dramatically. Alastair Imray, the lock, went over for a try out on the wing to spark the comeback, and Watsonians' possession dried up.

Entering the final quarter, the full-back, Colin Turnbull, came into the line and Welsh converted for 12-15. Awarded a series of penalties inside the Watsonian 22, Hawick's surprising decision to run the ball paid dividends when Welsh took a quick tap and forced his way over. In the closing moments Watsonians were given four scrummage put-ins within range of the Hawick posts, but the loss of a heel against the head neatly summed up their misfortune, denying Hodge the chance to snatch the game from the fire with a late drop goal.

Watsonians: D Lee; F Henderson (capt), S Hastings, A Garry, J Kerr; D Hodge, J Weston; T Smith, G Mckelvey, J Waddell, S Grimes, C Mather, G Hannah, C Brown, I Sinclair.

Hawick: C Turnbull; G Sharp, C Murray, A Stanger, K Suddon; S Welsh, K Reid; B McDonnell, J Hay, A Johnstone, A Imray, I Elliott, J Graham, B Renwick (capt), G Harris.

Referee: J Fleming (Boroughmuir).