Hawick and Melrose will be leagues apart next season, although the cup always offers the opportunity to throw up the occasional shock.
Not so at Mansfield Park on Saturday, however, despite a close-run contest.
But, if Melrose had not been disallowed a try following an infringement on the other side of the field, when trailing only 3-7 in the first half, then this BT Cup preliminary tie could have produced a real surprise.
Melrose coach Stuart Johnson was adamant the game could have swung either way.
“We had a young squad against a squad that has been together for a couple of seasons,” he said.
“We have a new squad and competed there for 80 per cent of the time.
“Our physicality against a big Hawick side was outstanding and we have to be positive about that. I did not think the scoreline reflected the game.”
Chris Raymond seemed to have lifted Melrose’s hopes when he scored from Lewis Mallin’s pass in 31 minutes, following an over-throw, before referee Keith Allen stepped in and awarded a penalty to Hawick, then reversed the decision, on the opposite side of the field in front of the stand.
That ‘non-score’ changed the face of the game as, in the injury time added on, Matt Carryer was driven over the line and Ali Weir converted for a 14-3 interval lead, following David Colvine’s penalty, and Stuart Graham’s early try and Weir’s conversion.
George Graham, head coach at Hawick, admitted they were never going to ‘walk over them.’
He added: “It was a horrible game – our discipline was terrible at times and we gave away too many silly penalties.
“We could not hold the ball long enough and lost our shape so many times.”
“We did not play particularly well but we are still winning, and that’s the main thing.”
And he praised the Melrose effort, saying: “For a bunch of young boys, they are well drilled and competed very well.
“At the end, they tired a bit and that is when we capitalised on them.”
Melrose, despite the advantage of the strong gale after the break, succumbed to a captain’s try from Shawn Muir, following good work by Daniel Suddon and proof that the powerful home pack, which included Polish internationalist Craig Bachurzewski, proved decisive in the final quarter of a typically feisty Borders contest.
Hawick: A. Weir; R. McKean, A. Mitchell, G. Johnstone, L. G. Wooley; B. Donaldson, G. Welsh; S.Muir, M, Carryer, C. Bachurzewski, D. Suddon, K. McNeil, S. Graham, Bruce McNeil, Billy McNeil. Subs: C. Renwick, D. Johnstone, J. Rowley, M. Renwick, M. Bannerman.
Melrose: K. Clark; L. Mallin, D. Colvine, T. Klein, J. Brown; Donald Crawford, David Crawford; W. Owen, R. Ferguson, C. Crookshanks, T. Brown, C. Wilde, C. Raymond, T. Andrews, G. Runciman. Subs: B. McLean, M. Wilson, G. Lindsay, S. Fisher, G. Wood.