Melrose too strong for Hawick in season opener

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Title holders Melrose flexed their rugby muscles in the opening round of this Tennents Premiership season to achieve a seven try 48-14 win over Hawick.

The Greens struggled to compete due to an absence of key players among their side.

Missing from the line-up were the half back pairing of Greg Cottrell and Lee Armstrong, and their captain and Scotland Club XV prop Shawn Muir.

In the circumstances Hawick were forced to field a team that lacked the overall experience necessary for the Premiership.

Melrose certainly looked sharp in the opening quarter, scoring after only five minutes from a cleverly taken line-out, leading to a move down the blindside involving new wing recruit Iain Sim, before the ball was spread wide for the other new wing, Michael Mvelase-Julyan, to score in the corner. Jackson converted.

Then, after Taylor and Thomson had shredded the Hawick midfield defence, Sim raced in for an unconverted try.

Hawick, however, recovered their composure and forced their way back into the game, gaining their reward when Bruce McNeil made the best of a Melrose overthrow at a line-out to score, with Ali Weir adding the extras.

Melrose quickly reasserted themselves and again it was Taylor who opened up the Hawick defence to lay on a try for Patrick Anderson.

Jackson goaled the easy conversion kick and then added a further two points to a try from a driven line-out by lock Angus Runciman, leaving Melrose in possession of a bonus point and a healthy lead at half-time with the scoreline at 26-7.

Melrose then dominated the opening minutes of the second half and Iain Moody laid on the scoring pass for Hutchison, and Jackson’s boot providing the conversion points.

Fortunately for the game, Hawick pulled themselves together and with the likes of Dalton Redpath at lock and McNeil at number eight leading a forward pack in which Premiership newcomers Callum Renwick and Daniel Suddon impressed, the Greens were able to narrow the points gap.

McNeil grabbed his second try after Hawick achieved a tighthead strike, the backrow picking up from the base of the scrum and darting through an unguarded gap.

Weir converted but the Hawick utility back was unable to add the extras to Hawick’s third try, scored by replacement Ruaridh McLeod from a driven line-out.

A Jackson penalty steadied Melrose nerves before Mvelase-Julyan raced on for his second try, the Greenyards men completing their victorious performance with a try by Hutchison from a clever kick by replacement Bruce Colvine, Jackson converting to give the stand-off a 13 points tally.