SATURDAY’S dramatic clash at Mansfield Park was no classic, but it was a close, competitive and entertaining match for the supporters, who decided that it offered better fare than yet more repeats on the television.
Melrose came with a strong side, which epitomised their determination for a place in the Border League final after, what had been for them, a disappointing season so far.
Hawick, on the other hand, were wanting to add to stunning victories over Watsonians and Jed-Forest, but the Greens fell short of coach Phil Leck’s aim of a treble.
The Border League final optimism felt by Hawick had been deflated by a heavy pitch, where four tries to make that achievable, was always beyond reach.
But the hosts showed determination to shock their opponents when, with the opportunity for Neil McColm to kick a penalty to level the scores deep into referee Rob Dickson’s injury time, the Hawick wing elected for a scrum to try and get the five points.
Almost inevitably Melrose turned the scrum for Andrew Skeen to kick the ball into touch and seal the victory.
The game also hinged on two late, long-range penalties from Joe Helps.
“We gave away silly penalties, and I am disappointed with the result, but the game showed that we can compete with one of the biggest clubs in Scotland,” said Leck.
Melrose assistant coach, John Dalziel, who played the whole of the game and was almost unrecognisable after the battle in the mud, commented: “We came with a strong side as we wanted to get to the final. We sometimes struggled, but we were determined to get a result.
“Overall, it was a good performance in horrendous weather and we are delighted to be in the final.”
The game ebbed and flowed as McColm banged over three penalties and converted Shawn Muir’s driven-over try, which gave Hawick sight of a famous win.
But Bruce Colvine, who flatfooted the Hawick defence with a darting run for his side’s only try in the first half, and the boot of first Skeen and then Helps did the damage to take Melrose into the final.
Hawick: J. Coutts; N. McColm, G. Johnstone, S. Anderson; R. Hutton, G. Cotttrell; S. Muir, L. Gibson, L. Launders, R. Smith, K. Willison, S. Graham, K. Davies, N. Mactaggart. Subs: H. Scammell, D. Johnstone, C. Smith, R. Anderson, G. Thomson.
Melrose: S. Chalmers; B. Hutchison, R. Mill, J. Helps, L. Mallin; A. Skeen, B. Colvine; N. Little, R. Ferguson, G. Holborn, P. Eccles, R. Ovens, J. Dalziel, G. Runciman, A. Nagle. Subs: W. Mitchell, C. Keen, S. Johnson, S. Love, D. Colvine.