Late Linden try is the leveller
An injury-time try from Kris Rowley snatched a draw for Hawick Linden in a game which could have gone either way.
A share of the spoils was probably a fair outcome.
The hosts showed several changes, with players injured and unavailable, against a Storm side playing their first competitive game of the season with personnel from both Melrose and Earlston.
The Linden were led out by skipper for the day, Conor Gracie, on his 100th appearance, and his side got off to a dream start.
A show and go from Graeme Anderson inside his own half allowed the stand-off to slice through a gap and release Lewis Stormont. The No. 8 romped up the wing to charge over in the corner.
Five minutes later, the Royal Blues lost a line out in their 22 and, when Melrose went wide, winger Robin Sharp touched down to tie the scores. A Jack Wilson line out take put Aiden Fairbairn on the charge and Matthew Mallin burst through to the posts. When he was tackled just short of the line, Steven Bouglas was on hand to dive over and Stormont converted.
On the half hour, some inter-passing between Hamish Weir and Elliot Ruthven saw the latter finish off. A Stormont penalty goal stretched the home lead to 15-10 but a similar award with the last kick of the first period slipped past the uprights.
The Royal Blues were struck a blow when stand-off Anderson was forced to retire. The experienced Graham Colville had come off the bench but departed soon after when he saw yellow for a deliberate knock-on. Carrying an injury, the No.8 did not return.
After Melrose were held up over the line, scrum ball led to Connor Spence running hard and going under the posts. Kieran Clark’s conversion put the Storm 17-15 in front.
Mallin went on a great run for the home side up the stand side and dived in at the corner but was ruled in touch.
Wilson then won the Melrose line out but was pushed out of play as he tried to go for the touchdown.
Some great play on 60 minutes saw Craig Glendinning find Mallin on an inside line and the centre fed back to Glendinning for the winger to cross at the corner. A magnificent conversion from Rowley meant the Linden were back in the lead 22-17.
Put back on defensive duties, the Linden pack did well to push Melrose off their own scrum ball but the home side couldn’t clear their lines.
Following the next scrum, Weir went on a dancing run through some poor tackling and the winger’s fine solo try tied the game at 22-all.
As the match entered the final 10 minutes, Mallin looked to be clean through for a potential score but the whistle had gone for a Linden penalty.
Rowley went for goal but his kick agonisingly slid the wrong side of the post.
Back at the other end, the home team won a line out on their own try line.
They looked to have secured the ball but hooker Jake Fairley sneaked in to pinch it and touched down for what looked like the winning score.
A penalty for a no-arms tackle on Jordan White reduced Melrose to 14.
The home team went all-out for a try, showing great composure to play through endless phases of play, and eventually got their reward when Rowley found space on the outside to cross the whitewash.
Alas, it was wide out and he couldn’t land the tough conversion that would have brought victory with the last kick of the game.