Hawick give it everything but Melrose prove too hot to handle

HAWICK begged and borrowed players for this match at the Greenyards, but while they may well want to swap the result, the performance from their patchwork side was priceless.

In from a more vintage era in the history of the Greens came Colin Murray, Rikki Kiore and Neil Douglas, who hadn’t quite been gathering dust on the shelves, just strutting their stuff in several leagues below the might of Melrose and company.

However, they certainly didn’t look out of place and coach Derek Armstrong’s decision to recruit the livewire Ryan Hogg was another bold move that paid off.

At times Hawick bullied their opponents, especially in the forwards, but they suffered from the sharpness and speed of the Melrose back line who punished any loose play.

It was understandable given the Greens had only played three matches in nine weeks – friendlies against Jed and Hawick YM and a Scottish Cup game at Selkirk – while the home side had pitted their wits against the likes of Munster, Llanelli and Nottingham in the British and Irish Cup.

And while the scoreline may suggest otherwise, there was still plenty for Hawick to be positive about.

The large travelling support may have feared the worst when ‘Rose speed machine Fraser Thomson opened the scoring after just eight minutes, but Hawick showed plenty of endeavour in the opening exchanges, with their very own flier Steven Anderson, Bruce McNeil and youngster Rory Sutherland all breaking through the home defence.

They reduced the deficit from the boot of Graham Hogg, who converted a penalty, but things looked ominous when first Gary Holborn and then Scott Wight crossed, both scores converted by the latter.

A high tackle on Gary Johnstone gifted Graham Hogg another three points but Hawick suffered a further setback when McNeil was carded by referee Graham Knox.

Still they refused to buckle and Ryan Hogg was introduced from the bench along with Kiore, the pair making an immediate impact.

But a sucker punch just before the interval stretched Melrose’s advantage further when Wayne Mitchell scored and Wight’s conversion hit the upright and went over.

It would have been easy to roll over at this point, but that certainly wasn’t part of Hawick’s plans as they started the second half with all guns blazing.

Straight from the restart the burly frame of Matt Landels battered a hole in the ‘Rose defence and when the ball was recycled, Johnstone crashed over.

While Wight received good fortune from the woodwork, the same couldn’t be said for Graham Hogg, who watched his simple conversion attempt strike the underside of the bar.

Landels and the powerhouse David Lowrie were causing all sorts of chaos for the home side but poor passing was letting them down.

Thomson relieved the pressure with a score from inside his own half and, after Landels was forced off with an injury, Callum Anderson kept the scoreboard busy by adding to their tally.

Yet the Greens kept their heads up and Murray rolled back the years with a lung busting run from the halfway line, which included selling an outrageous dummy, before diving over in the corner.

Anderson notched his second of the afternoon for the home side, but it was Hawick who had the final say when Lowrie grabbed the try his play deserved and the big forward added the conversion.

HAWICK: C. Murray, G. Anderson, R. Hutton, G. Johnstone, S. Anderson, G. Hogg, G. Cottrell, R. Sutherland, L. Gibson, S. Linton, K. Willison, M. Robertson, D. Lowrie, N. Mactaggart and B. McNeil. Replacements: N. Douglas, R. Kiore, R. Hogg, G. Petrie and M. Landels