Hawick had to win to avoid either outright relegation or having to take part in a play-off match. In the event, victory for Hawick was made less difficult by playing against a Melrose side short of a number of front line players who had been involved in the Club International on Friday night.
“We made it tough for ourselves in the early part of the game,” admitted the Hawick coach George Graham, whose contract has been extended for next season. “It doesn’t matter what Melrose side you’re playing against, they will always try hard.”
Hawick were also helped by Edinburgh releasing Scotland and Lions prop Allan Dell, pictured, and Scotland Under-20 flyer Darcy Graham for yesterday’s match. Dell has had little rugby this season but showed impressive form in the Hawick front row, capping a good performance with two tries.
Playing into the beast-from-the east wind that carried frequent snow showers, Hawick led 5-3 at half time with a try from a driven lineout by Dell to an eighth minute penalty goal by the Melrose stand-off Jason Baggott.
With the elements behind them in the second half Hawick were quickly into their stride with a close range try by scrum-half Greg Cottrell and the conversion by Lee Armstrong.
Then from another driven lineout prop Nicky Little was at the foot of a pile of bodies for try number three.
All that Hawick needed now was the bonus point try and it came courtesy of a dashing run by Graham and the finish by Dell. Armstrong converted and added the extras to a Bruce McNeil try.
In a final assault Dom Buckley benefitted from an Armstrong kick to score Hawick’s sixth try. The conversion attempt was given to Matt Landels to mark the veteran prop’s retirement, his successful kick greeted with warm and deserved applause from the Hawick supporters on a day to remember.