Melrose prove preparation is key to winning Border derbies

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Melrose 45

Hawick 23

PREMIER GROUP A

FIONA SCOTT reports from The Greenyards

CONSIDERING the winners of this match have had two weeks of British and Irish Cup action behind them and a league title to focus on, while the losers have had little in the way of match practice over the last few months, had nothing to gain from winning and had a desperately-depleted starting line-up, the outcome was perhaps a little predictable.

But for supporters of both sides, excitement was never in short supply with the early frantic pace and 10 tries making for an excellent afternoon’s viewing at The Greenyards.

For winning coach Craig Chalmers, however, there is always room for improvement.

Speaking to TheSouthern after the game, he said: “After the level we have been playing at the last few weeks I think we dropped down today.

“There were a lot of inaccuracies and we will have to improve on that if we want any chance of winning any league titles.

“Saying that, we got the job done, and got four tries, so we will just have to move on now.”

Knowing that they had a tough task ahead of them, Hawick made their intentions known from the off, holding Melrose pinned to their own try line for a good spell in the opening minutes.

It was the home side who scored first, however, when Fraser Thomson took the ball well, following some impressive play by the backs, to beat two defenders and touch down, with Scott Wight making the conversion.

Still, Hawick fought on and reduced the margin in the 16th minute when Graham Hogg sent a long-range penalty soaring through the posts.

Five minutes later, Melrose grabbed their second try when Gary Holborn was shoved over the Hawick try line following some good work from his pack. Wight converted and the Melrose skipper kept the scoreboard ticking over when he streaked in for a third and converted from the touchline.

Hogg added another penalty shortly afterwards before Greens skipper Bruce McNeil was sent to the sin bin.

Now looking to add the bonus point, ’Rose upped the pace and were rewarded with a try from Wayne Mitchell, converted by Wight to make it 28-6 at the break.

The Teries again came out all guns blazing and got their first try minutes after the restart when Gary Johnstone nipped in at the posts. Hogg’s conversion, however, rattled off the underside of the bar.

For 16 minutes it was all Hawick and the visiting side did everything they could bar touch the ball down over the line. But again it was Melrose who notched the points when Thomson scooped up a loose ball in his own 22 and sprinted to the other end of the field for a fine solo try.

Callum Anderson then took the ball on from 10m out and jinked his way through to the Hawick line to touch down.

Hawick were rewarded for their hard work next when veteran full-back Colin Murray showed he still has what it takes with an impressive run up the touchline and the dummy of the season to score in the corner.

Minutes later, however, Anderson notched his brace with another fantastic evasive run and score, which Wight converted.

Hawick’s David Lowrie had the last say when he rumbled over a pile of bodies to touch down and convert himself.

Melrose: F. Thomson; C. Anderson, J. Murray, J. Helps, B. Allen; S. Wight, R. Chrystie; N. Little, W. Mitchell, G. Holborn, G. Elder, R. Miller, J. Dalziel, D. Crawford, G. Dodds. Subs: N. Beavon, G. Innes, S. Johnson, S. McCormick and C. Hardie.

Hawick: C. Murray; S. Anderson, R. Hutton, G. Johnstone, G. Anderson; G. Hogg, G. Cottrell; R. Sutherland, L. Gibson, S. Linton, K. Wilson, M. Robertson, D. Lowrie, N. Mactaggart, B. McNeil. Subs: N. Douglas, R. Kiore, R. Hogg, G. Petrie and M. Landels.