Hawick and Melrose each want to make progress in this season’s Scottish Cup – so both are treating Saturday’s preliminary round clash at Mansfield Park with the importance it deserves.
Little hint of a pre-season warm-up is likely to waft around this encounter – each side will be testing a few players and hoping for a good run in the competition. Therefore, a full-blooded Borders derby is on the cards.
Both clubs were in action last Saturday so have some continuity to draw on – Melrose were edged out 29-22 by Jed-Forest in the Booker Borders League, while Hawick went down 40-24 in a friendly at Carlisle.
Hawick head coach George Graham said: “We have had quite an intensive pre-season; the boys have been working very hard. We’re just fine-tuning things now to get ready for Saturday and then the Musselburgh game a week after that.
“I don’t know what team Melrose will put out but whatever is put in front of us, we need to try and deal with it – focus on what we have and what we need to get right.”
Melrose coach Stuart Johnson said there were many positives to take from the game at Riverside, with around five under-18 players in the squad and some other preferred choices missing.
“I think we lost it ourselves rather than they (Jed) won it,” he said. “We gave them four easy tries through missed tackles and we had plenty of opportunities.”
Saturday would be a different game, added Johnson. “Hawick are very dominant up front and it will be more physical. Up front will be where it is won and lost. It could be a bit feisty but we want to try and progress through.”