Melrose boss John Dalziel radiated calm this week ahead of Saturday’s BT Premiership opener against Hawick at Mansfield Park, writes Alexander McLeman.
It was only on the final weekend of the 2014/15 campaign that Melrose missed out on what they had set out to achieve all season, a BT Premiership league winners title which was cruelly snatched from their grasp in the closing seconds of that April play-off final.
Melrose were cruising, leading 20-17 with a little under two minutes remaining, with possession of the ball inside Heriot’s 22m line.
However, that seemingly-positive position quickly turned to despair as the city side reclaimed the ball and manoeuvred their way to the try line, and managed to secure a smash-and-grab win that seemed like robbery to those fans in black and gold.
“To get so close to winning last year and lose in the way we did it was massively disappointing after performing so well all season,” said Dalziel this week.
“It is all fine lines in games like that and we let it go in the end. But it’s a new year and we can’t dwell – we have a new challenge to face.”
Melrose return to league action this weekend against the Teries and, while they might never be able to avenge such a harrowing defeat in the pressure cooker of the play-offs, Dalziel hopes a win over their Borders rivals will provide them with the momentum needed to get back to that position in 2015.
“Heading into this season, we have high expectations and aspirations to be back in the mix for the play-offs again,” added Dalziel.
“A trip to Hawick is never easy to start a new season, as it is one of the toughest places to go in Scottish rugby, but a win on Saturday could easily put us on the right track to where we want to be come the end of the season.”
For Gala, who take on Premiership newbies Selkirk at Philliphaugh on Saturday, the 2015 season couldn’t come soon enough after ending last term with disappointment after promising so much.
Confidence is high at both clubs and with no major injury concerns in either side, both outfits will be looking to start the new campaign on the front foot.
In National One, Jed-Forest and Kelso renew their rivalry at Riverside Park, with both clubs targeting an improvement on their lacklustre 2014 season.