Melrose 34 Hawick 7
Melrose left Hawick beaten to a pulp and facing a longer than expected season with an April relegation play-off date set to define their 2016/17 campaign.
Saturday’s 34-7 defeat at the Greenyards ends Hawick’s quest to put an end to all talk of potential relegation play-off’s matchups. The Robbie Dyes will now face a one-off relegation play-off match against either Edinburgh Accies, Jed-Forest or Marr in April to save their status as a BT Premiership side.
At times in the first half Hawick were stripped of their dignity and it was not hard to see one side was aiming for top spot in the league while the other was muddling at the bottom.
Melrose managed to earn the bonus-point in the first half, aided by injuries suffered to Shawn Muir, Kirk Ford, Lee Armstrong and Grant Huggan that reduced the Greens to the barebones of their squad, scoring four tries with relative ease before adding a fifth after the break.
“Our first half performance left us far too much to do against a side like Melrose, who have so much talent at their disposal,” lamented Hawick club captain Bruce McNeil.
“They showed their class early on. We basically gave them the kind of easy ball that they can punish you with. We were second best to a lot of the game and they worked us. I didn’t help that we lost so many to injury, something I don’t I have ever really seen it that bad playing rugby over the years.
“The second half was a bit better after a bit of a rollicking and managed to keep it to 7-7.
“We played without fear as the game was already lost and kept things close. That being said, Melrose took their foot of the gas a bit, but credit to all the boys who managed to finish the game in getting some pride back.”
Defeat now leaves Hawick occupying relegation purgatory as with the uneven nature of the National Leagues, they contain 12 sides while the premiership holds ten, there will be a six-week wait before the play-off match-up.
“These sorts of games are a bit difficult to plan for as there is such a long gap between our last league game and this one,” added McNeil, who hopes to use his sides experience in the play-off after a number were involved when the Greens earned promotion against Dundee HSFP in 2013.
He added: “We obviously picked-up a number of injuries on Saturday so hopefully we will have those guys back but it is up to us as a group to stay engaged and keep ourselves motivated. We need to be in the gym, at training and working to stay fit.
“We have a lot of boys who were involved in this game when we played Dundee a few years back so that helps but we are certainly not taking anything for granted as the team will be face will be used to winning and come into the game full of confidence.”