Exercise in futility, but a good one

Hawick 39

Melrose 7


ATHOLL INNES reports from Mansfield Park

ARGUABLY there was nothing at stake in this RBS Cup-tie with local rivals Gala already looking up the A7 with aspirations.

But the Borders clubs were told to play the game and the sparse crowd had the opportunity to see the up-and-coming stars in action.

That there was a crowd at all was remarkable with competition of Six Nations on the television, not the warmest of Saturday afternoons, and the fear that, to many, it would be no more than a second XV friendly.

“Not so”, said Hawick coach Phil Leck. “It gave me a chance to see players from the Quins etc, as we look to the future.”

“To be honest, a waste of time,” said Melrose coach John Dalziel, “but it was an opportunity to give the younger players a run.”

It was no more than that – and to ensure that the supporters were given a game in this fragmented season. It was free if you were a member ... a duty to the faithful.

In the end, they saw a barrow-load of tries, five in all, if not a feast of rugby.

Both sides fielded sides of youth and experience, but in the back of their minds was the fear of injury with so many games in the coming weeks.

Maybe the busiest man was referee Andrew McMenemy who dished out three yellow cards – Rory Sutherland, Lindsey Gibson and Ruari McLeod the receivers.

Hawick won comfortably, thanks to two early Lee Armstrong penalties and his conversion of tries by Steven Anderson (2) and Matt Landels for a 27-0 interval lead.

It was a long way back for Melrose despite a try and conversion from Donald Crawford, and Hawick rubbed salt in the wound with scores from Dale Johnstone and Sutherland, one converted by Armstrong.

Hawick: N. McColm; M. Graham, L. Armstrong, R. Armstrong, S. Anderson; G. Cottrell, L. Lawrence; S. Muir, M. Landels, R. Sutherland, G. Petrie, B. Keown, N. Mactaggart, M. Robertson, K. Davies. Subs: D. Johnstone, C. Smith, B. McNeil, G. Anderson, L. Gibson.

Melrose: D. Dodds; R. Shirra-Gibb, N. McGrath, J. Helps, C. Hardie; D. McLeod, S. McCormick; C. Keen, N. Beavon, R. McLeod, I. Robertson, L. Scully, S. Johnston, R. Miller, R. Ovens. Subs: G.Ryle, C. Chisholm, G. Runciman, T. Wilson, C. Wilde.