Two years on from now, if Scottish Rugby’s plans prevail, a semi-professional league will be in place.
Yesterday, Melrose showed they intend to be part of this new set-up by opening their BT Premiership campaign with what was very much a polished performance against a Watsonians side that could not match their opponents.
The Greenyards men stamped their mark on the game early on with powerful driving mauls and aggressive work at the breakdown area, while behind the scrum their strike runners showed how to finish once the sniff of a chance presented itself.
“What pleased me was that we were clinical and showed a great deal of accuracy for this time in the season,” said Melrose coach Rob Chrystie, whose side defended impressively.
Melrose, it has to be said, were helped in the first half by two yellow cards in quick succession shown to back row Angus Duckett and then prop Kyle Whyte.
“The yellow cards cost us 14 points. We were chasing the game from them on,” admitted Watsonians coach, Steve Lawrie.
“We need to look at our discipline and we need to look at how we use possession.”
An early penalty by their stand-off Ewan Fox gave Watsonians initial hope only for the Melrose maul to generate tries for Sam Pecqueur, Fraser Thomson and Russell Anderson, two of them converted by Craig Jackson.
Melrose then grabbed the bonus point with an individual try from skipper Grant Runciman, the skipper pirating ball at the breakdown before scorching through a gap.
Jackson again converted before laying on a try and adding the extras for replacement Ally Miller with an accurate cross kick.
Then just before half-time Watsonians showed their strength in the forwards with a catch and drive that ended with Duckett scoring and Fox converting.
Sixteen minutes into the second half Scotland under-20 cap Ross McCann shot over for an individual try, this time converted by Jason Baggott.
The young South African then laid on the scoring pass for a second try by Thomson, converted by replacement Ben Chalmers.
Minutes later Thomson made it a hat-trick in scoring his 100th try for Melrose from a training-ground move, Chalmers adding the extras for the home side.
A Mike Allen try converted by Fox and then an unconverted score by Duckett gave the scoreline a better feel for Watsonians, but not nearly enough to take the shine off what was a monumental Melrose win.