PREMIER DIVISION ONE
ATHOLL INNES reports from the Greenyards
JOHN DALZIEL has been an influential player for Melrose over the years, but on Saturday he had to watch his side stay ahead of the field in the championship from the sidelines.
Dalziel, who broke a collarbone in South of Scotland’s win over the Barbarians, looked on anxiously as Melrose stuttered their way to a win against a Hawick side that battled to the final whistle.
“I thought that we were terrible,” he said after watching the match with his arm strapped up. We had a lot of guys in the South team on Tuesday, but that is no excuse.
“We are top of the league and Hawick bottom, but we were lethargic.”
Dalziel had an ally in skipper Graeme Dodds.
“That was a poor performance and we will need to improve if we want to hold on to the title,” he said. “We got the five points, but I think that on the day Hawick wanted it more.”
The Greens achieved only a losing bonus point thanks to a try in the fifth minute of injury time, although skipper Bruce McNeil feels that his players are moving the right way.
“It was a step in the right direction, but in the end we did not win the game.
“However, we hope to take that performance into the next match. It is something to build on.”
But Currie at home will be no easy opposition. Then there’s a trip to Ayr.
“Jim Renwick has helped a lot and we have been training well. We need to get that belief in ourselves,” added McNeil.
Hawick, with the loss of Gary Johnstone to a yellow card, looked as if they would be the whipping boys again as Joe Helps scored after just five minutes and Andrew Skeen and Garry Elder touched down before the break with Skeen adding two conversions.
The Greens kept in touch with a Neil Renwick try, converted by Lee Armstrong who also added a penalty.
Helps and Kieran Willison shared tries after the interval, Skeen slotted a penalty, and Lindsey Gibson’s try, converted by Armstrong, deep into injury time came too late – except for that bonus point.
Melrose: F. Thomson; C. Hardie, J. Murray, C. Murray, J. Helps; A. Skeen, B. Colvine; C. Keen, R. Ferguson, N. Beavon, G. Elder, P. Eccles, R. Miller, G. Dodds, G. Runciman. Subs: A. Walker, K. Cooney, R. Ovens, S. McCormick, B. Dick.
Hawick: N. McColm; S. Anderson, G. Johnstone, L. Armstrong, S. Bouglas; N. Renwick, G. Cottrell; R. Sutherland, L. Gibson, S. Linton, K. Willison, K. Davies, N. Mactaggart, D. Landels, B. McNeil. Subs: M. Landels, N. Little, H. Scammell, C. Russell, R. Scott.