Hamilton 2nds 14

Melrose Storm 40

WITH the snow melting on top of waterlogged pitches the going could only be called VERY soft.

Melrose kicked off long and a knock on inside the Hamilton 22 put the home side under pressure immediately.

Several scrums followed as both sides made simple handling errors in the heavy going.

It was Ruarihd Campbell who eventually found the gap in the Hamilton defence and open the scoring.

Captain Struan Hutchison converted.

From the restart Melrose worked their way up the park and Lewis Mallin stretched the Storm lead with a score in the corner. There followed a muddy tussle with the heavier Hamilton pack making territorial gains for the home side being offset by some enterprising running out of defence from the Melrose backs.

From a line out break and hack through Ruarihd Campbell was fouled as he had a clear run to the line resulting in the first yellow card for Hamilton and the award of a penalty try. An excellent break out of defence from the base of the scrum saw the Storm back in the home 22 and despite some resolute defence Mallin squeezed in for his second and the Hutchison conversion brought up half-time and a 26-0 lead.

With two full replacement benches the second half was punctuated by substitutions by both sides and some very disjointed play. Melrose pressure saw some desperate defence by the home side and three yellow cards that included one for Ali Grieve for retaliation.

Jack Dobie managed to make contact with the base of the post to increase the Melrose lead and take their total league points passed the 500 mark for the season.

Another successful Hutchison conversion took the score to 33-0 points. With five league points in the bag the Storm relaxed and Hamilton pressure resulted in a neatly worked try and conversion. Melrose backs found enough pace and good handling for one more score before Hamilton finished their afternoon with a second converted try and a final score of 40 points to 14 in favour of the visitors.

With three of four remaining matches away from home the Storm have a tough run in but with a 12 points lead they are closing in on their hat-trick of league titles.