In a bizarre game Melrose looked shipwrecked in the opening quarter as Hawks threatened to rack up a bundle of tries but, helped by five injuries in the Hawks’ team, Melrose checked the momentum to score 35 unanswered points for a bonus victory.
“Hawks were really good for that first 20 minutes. They kept the ball well and caused us a lot of bother,” said the Melrose coach, Rob Chrystie, adding : “Our boys were patient and they were mature about it.”
Undoubtedly Hawks were affected by the high injury toll, Key backline players Junior Bulumakau, Jack Steele and David Milne all left the field while, from the forwards replacement, Sam Thompson was stretchered off prior to the exit of Andy Redmayne, the second row having had the resistance of his skull tested by an elbow from his opposite number James Head. As a result Head was shown the red card and is likely to suffer a not undeserved penalty for his efforts. Melrose lost scrum-half Murdo McAndrew and his replacement Richard Taylor to injury. Jason Baggot moved to scrum-half and gave a commanding performance, reminiscent of fellow countryman Ruan Pienaar.
Hawks looked unstoppable in the first quarter, their ball retention and refusal to kick away possession creating tries for No.8 Tommy Spinks and centre Milne. Scrum-half George Horne converted the second and then added a penalty.
But then it all went horribly wrong. Prop Gary Strain was yellow carded and from the resultant penalty Melrose drove the lineout for hooker Russell Anderson to score, Baggot converting.
Converted tries by Anderson and Baggot after the break put Melrose ahead by 21-15. Then a delightful step by wing Austen Lockington created the bonus-point try for Ruaridh Knott, again converted by Baggot. Lockington then scored Melrose’s final try leaving Baggot to kick his fifth conversion.