Melrose 30

Hawick 20

Atholl Innes at The Greenyards

MELROSE stayed ahead in the race for the Premiership at The Greenyards on Saturday, but Hawick gave them a good run for their money.

Borders rugby derbies are often unpredictable, and while Melrose made it nine bonus-point wins in a row, the second half belonged to Hawick.

It was never too close for comfort for the runaway leaders, but Melrose Rugby Director, Mike Dalgetty, on a day when Melrose also inducted players into a new Sevens Hall of Fame, said: "A lot of people possibly expected more from us today, but Hawick are a very committed side.

"We had players away in South Africa on sevens duty and we were able to give other guys a chance, which shows the strength of the squad.

“It has been an excellent start to the season for us, but it is only halfway,” he warned.

“We will take every week as it comes.”

Hawick still anchor up the Premiership, and will be hoping that they have not left it too late to salvage survival.

The visitors, under head coach George Graham for the second time, won the second half 14-6 in a wind-strewn contest, and believe they can stage a late comeback in the league.

Hawick recovered well from a disappointing start, and despite their battling qualities and determination, mirrored in a solid all-round second half, they were left chasing the game as Melrose power and pace were crucial ingredients in the opening 40 minutes.

Graham was pleased with the performance of the Hawick side if not the result.

“We did not put enough pressure on them in the first half,” he said.

“On the positive side, we showed in the second half how well we can play. We stopped them from scoring tries and they only got two penalties.”

Melrose gained the bonus points with four first-half tries through Richard Ferguson, Fraser Thomson, Murdo McAndrew and Grant Shiells, with Craig Jackson putting over two conversions.

Ali Weir kicked two Hawick penalties.

In the second half, Melrose managed only two Jackson penalties as Hawick responded with two tries from Gary Munro, both converted by Weir, to prove a vast improvement in their performance.

Melrose: F. Thomson; G. Wood, P. Anderson, C. Jackson, B. Chalmers; J. Baggott, M. McAndrew; G. Shiells, R. Anderson, N. Beavon, J. Head, A. Runciman, N. Irvine-Hess, A. Miller, I. Moody. Replacements: D. Elkington, R. McLeod, G. Runciman, S. Hutchison, G. Taylor.

Hawick: A. Weir; G. Munro, G. Johnstone, D. Buckley, L. Anderson; L. Armstrong, G. Cottrell; S. Muir, M. Carryer, N. Little, C. Hamilton, D. Redpath, G. Graham, B. McNeil, S. Graham. Replacements: F. Renwick, R. Sutherland, K. Davies, A. Baillie, M. Tait.