Greens boss George Graham said he was greatly encouraged by the display at Melrose on Saturday, which would give them a base on which to build during the short autumn break.
Hawick put the Greenyards side through a very uncomfortable test in the weekend’s wet conditions and, indeed, took the lead in the second half, having been level with their hosts at their interval.
But there was bitter disappointment for Graham and his troops as the formidable Melrose pack turned it round in the closing stages.
Graham attributed the demise in fortune to tiredness affecting his front-row players after an hour or so when, in his view, Hawick had been the consistently better team.
A penalty try awarded by referee Graeme Ormiston and the yellow-carding of prop Nicky Little were the proverbial nails in Hawick’s coffin (match report on page 31).
The Robbie Dyes had a break from training this week and have the day off tomorrow (Saturday) before reconvening in preparation for November 17 against Boroughmuir – the first of three home games.
Graham said Hawick had missed some tackles and try-scoring chances at the Greenyards, while Melrose had freshness in reserve.
“We were very disappointed we never came away with a victory – we were the best team on the park for 60 minutes and then we gave way a penalty try,” said the head coach.
“My loose head prop Shawn Muir and tight head Nicky Little are playing the full 80 minutes and tiring about 60-65. They (Melrose) had guys who came in earlier with fresh legs.”
Hawick had nevertheless played very well and Graham added: “We were patient and we were accurate in passing and set play, which we had planned. We managed to build a lot of phases and were breaking them down and I thought we looked very dangerous for a good hour, and the score reflected that.”
The fatigue of the scrummaging front row and the dominance of the Melrose forwards told the final story.
“We are struggling for front row cover,” said Graham. “If we had better cover, we could have hung in there a bit longer. But we will take positives out of it.
“I thought we were the better team against Melrose, at Melrose, for 60 minutes. But, unfortunately, our game doesn’t last 60 minutes.”
Graham said the Borders derby factor was a good inducement for the squad, and their form had been encouraging.
“We have a run of three games at home now and I hope we can capitalise on our confdience,” he said. “We will try and turn some performances into points – we desperately need points.”
The young squad was getting better, said Graham, but he advised: “It’s just when you come up against quality teams of the likes of Heriot’s and Melrose that you really have to cut down on the amount of errors in key places.”
Hawick’s control of the game and everything they did had been really heartening, he said. “We did the things we practised on the training field and we saw them in the game.”
The boss hoped the near miss against Melrose, the belief in what they could do against sides of that calibre, and the return to Mansfield Park, would spark a big reaction from his players.