Just as they had done two weeks ago at Ayr, Melrose stepped up in the second half against Hawick to run out comfortable winners.
John Dalziel’s men turned round a 24-19 deficit to triumph 53-24 and remain unbeaten at the top of the table, although most Melrose supporters, not to mention coaches, present at the game would probably prefer that their team didn’t wait until the second period to mount a counter attack.
President Mike Bleasdale said: “Hawick didn’t make it easy in a thrilling match that wasn’t won until deep into the second half, with both teams playing with a verve belying the old stigma that Border derbies are always dull, turgid affairs.
“A lively first half from the home side probably perturbed our coaches enough to keep them focused again this week and also showed Hawick’s capability to win matches this season.”
The hosts did indeed provide some scintillating rugby. Following a short-range penalty from Melrose centre Joe Helps, the Greens were rewarded for some ambitious play with fine tries finished by Scott McLeod and James Johnstone, both converted by Neil Renwick.
Two more penalties from Helps, who also converted a try from Damien Hoyland, however, put the Greenyards outfit ahead for the first time in the game on 27 minutes.
Helps and Renwick exchanged penalties before Hawick scored the final touchdown of the half when Johnstone began and finished a great handling move to go in near the posts. Renwick converted for a 24-19 interval lead.
The game turned in the first 10 minutes of the second half with Rory Hutton being yellow-carded for not releasing. Melrose posted 10 points during the time he was off, Graeme Dodds driving over from the resultant scrum and Helps converting and adding a penalty.
Helps moved the lead to eight points with his sixth penalty before converting Mark Robertson’s fine try. As the clock ran down, the bonus point was finally claimed when Allan Dodds finished off a sweeping move, also converted by Helps.
The ‘Rose pack took control for the final minutes and, following a collapsed scrum on the Hawick line, referee Lloyd Linton awarded a penalty try. Helps converted to finish with a personal tally of 28 points.