Hawick 3 Melrose 14
Another week another defeat but Hawick flash reason for hope in a gutsy 14-3 loss to Melrose at Mansfield Park.
Hawick looked left for dead following a string of dreadful defeats had altered the season’s expectations from title contenders to relegation favourites. Teams exposed holes in the Greens porous defence, inconsistent offence and inexperienced squad.
But on Saturday, despite recording their seventh loss of the season– two shy of last season’s total – against one of their biggest rivals, at their own ground, they looked every bit as capable of handling their relegation headache.
By restricting the BT Premiership leaders to two converted scores in the first half – who had averaged 22 points per half in their previous eight league games – Hawick showed they can compete and share the pitch with legitimate title contenders.
“It wasn’t a complete disaster but it also wasn’t great, it was an improvement and at this stage we will take that as a good thing,” said Hawick captain Bruce McNeil.
“We made a number of mistakes, they scored both their tries off them, but after looking at the tape there were things we can build on. There were positives that maybe weren’t there previously. Guys seem to be learning form their errors.”
A downpour of rain pre-match and a 12-minute delay during the match caused by an injury to Michael Henderson aside, Hawick and Melrose battered and bungled their way through an entertaining contest that could have gone either way right up until the final whistle.
Melrose, owning one of the most envied squads in the division with stars at every position, who appear on a level above most sides this season struggled to put away Hawick despite controlling the game for long stretches.
Hawick played with defensive assurance and displayed for the first time all season a sense that they knew what they were doing.
“There were three or four instances where we had real chances to score but for one reason or the other we missed them but what that shows is we have the ability to beat teams like Melrose,” added McNeil.
“The game was close and it was a bit disjointed with the weather and the long injury delay which meant the game flow wasn’t exactly great but we held firm and really put up a fight to one of the best teams in the league.
“It certainly wasn’t the sort of game you would have expected to see between the top and bottom sides in the division.
“We know time is running out and we are now halfway through the season but the atmosphere around the squad remains in good shape.
“Everyone is confident we can fight our way out of this mess.”