Melrose staying focused while Hawick hope to spring a shock

Ex-Kelso captain Dom Buckley scores a try against Ayr for a revitalised Hawick - but the task facing them on Saturday at the Greenyards is massive (picture by Alwyn Johnston)
Ex-Kelso captain Dom Buckley scores a try against Ayr for a revitalised Hawick - but the task facing them on Saturday at the Greenyards is massive (picture by Alwyn Johnston)

Hawick hope low expectations and complacency help propel them to a shock BT Premiership victory over Border rivals and table-topping Melrose at the Greenyards on Saturday.

The Rose, meanwhile, know the Greens have been inching closer to that elusive first win but are determined only to focus on their own game – not even dwelling too much on their impressive success so far.

Saturday pits top versus bottom – the most dominant side in the Premiership verses the most dominated.

Melrose have scored a combined 368 points in their eight league matches this season, a whole 116 more points than the next best side, while Hawick have conceded a league worst 347 points, 101 more than the next worst defence.

It’s a recipe for a one-sided, clear-cut and decisive Melrose victory. That assumption and attitude is something Hawick captain Bruce McNeil hopes his side can utilise, potentially, to spring an improbable upset.

“Melrose are miles ahead of everyone and we are massive underdogs this weekend but we go there with no fear and that, hopefully, can help us potentially catch them off guard,” he said.

“Last weekend against Ayr, in the first half at least, we showed we can mix it with the best in this division. We played pretty well for 40 minutes and then fell away from what was giving us success in the second half.

“We gave them trouble and, if we can replicate that this weekend, and do it for 60 or 70 minutes, I can see us getting something from the game.

“They’re heavy favorites but we are going there with no fear, knowing the pressure is all on them.

“Those sorts of odds are what Hawick boys relish.”

Looking forward to a Borders derby, Melrose head coach Rob Chrystie knew Hawick had been resurgent but said Rose had a settled squad and would concentrate on their own game, not even thinking too much about bonus points.

“We’ll try and focus on ourselves and make sure we’re as good as we can be,” he said. “We’ll prepare for what we think Hawick might chuck at us but it’s very much about us – it doesn’t matter who we are playing.”

Chrystie added it had been of great help to Melrose to be consistent with their selection, and having a settled squad was a definite asset.

“Another thing working in our favour is that Melrose Storm are playing really well,” he added. “The boys who are stepping up are on the same page as us, because we all train together.”