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Match against Melrose (01-Mar-2008)

Date: Saturday, 1st March 2008
Kickoff time: 15:00
Against: Melrose
Team: Hawks 1st XV
Location: Away
Competition: Cup-Shield-Bowl-Plate
Final score: 8 - 42 (lost)

Melrose shoot down Hawks
Alan Lorimer at the Greenyards
MELROSE established themselves as one of the favourites for the Scottish Hydro Electric Cup after dumping the holders, Glasgow Hawks, in spectacular fashion in a fifth round tie at the Greenyards yesterday with a six-try tally that easily could have been greater.
This was Melrose at their best – and for that matter rugby at its best – as they produced a performance based on accurate passing, essential support play, and all round pace, complemented by strong defence that kept Hawks at bay for most of the match.

The question of course is whether Melrose can maintain this high tempo game in the next round, but there is little doubt, as coach Craig Chalmers confirmed, that playing week-in, week-out has helped the Greenyards men. "We had a hard game against Kelso last week and will play Peebles next Friday. These meaningful Border League games are crucial to us," said Chalmers.

The Melrose coach, while praising his entire team, rightly picked out scrum half Scott McCormick as one of the key performers in the team. McCormick, who joined Melrose from Peebles, was ousted from the scrum-half berth with the arrival of former Bath professional, Rob Chrystie, but yesterday put on a display that suggested Chrystie will have to fight hard to regain his place when he returns from Sydney next season.

"Scott is a clever player, he's quick, and he's a good defender. I think he's got huge potential. Yet he's never played any age grade rugby," said Chalmers, who had asked his charges for a full performance against the holders.

"In the cup all you need to do is win by one point but we wanted to play at tempo. We started at a pace Hawks couldn't live with. I was delighted with the early scores but we could so easily have had a few more."

Many of Hawks' problems lay in a propensity to turn over ball at the contact area, where Melrose flanker John Dalziel and his back row cohorts Ross Miller and Bill Wallace totally outplayed their opposite numbers.

The Glasgow men were also guilty of failing to turn breaks into scores with poor reading of the game and passing that failed to find the intended receiver. All of which made it easier for a Melrose defence that refused to allow breaches to occur. Melrose made clear their intentions with a try after four minutes when Scott Wight found space in midfield and with Wallace supplying support, winger Dave Whiteford was sent in for a try. Three minutes later Melrose struck again, this time skipper Jamie Murray rounding off a passage of non-stop handling with a try under the posts, giving Wight an easy conversion and a useful 12-0 lead for Melrose.

Even with prop Richard Higgins in the sin-bin for preventing Hawks from taking a quick penalty, Melrose were barely troubled, although the Old Anniesland outfit did threaten twice with moves involving No.8 Grant Strang.

Try scorer Murray was perhaps a tad lucky to avoid a yellow card when he deliberately knocked on with Hawks attacking the Melrose line. Stand-off Ian Noble, however, extracted three points with his goal kick. But almost immediately Wight replied with a similar effort to maintain the 12-point margin.

Melrose looking menacing on the ball quickly added a third try, this time Miller dotting down after Higgins, and Alec Clark had been involved in the build-up. Then with half-time approaching Wight combined with Jordan Macey and Clark to add his name to the try-scorers.

A Wight penalty early in the second half kept the Melrose points ticking over and when McCormick made a 30-metre break from the base of the scrum, Macey was on hand to finish the move, Wight adding the conversion.

Fortunately for Hawks' pride Steve Gordon, his side's most penetrative runner, ripped open the Melrose defence to score a solo try. But Melrose returned to their ascendant position, with a final try by Dalziel converted by replacement Scott Ruthven to seal a sumptuous win.

Melrose: J Macey; C Anderson, J Murray, G Stewart, D Whiteford; S Wight, S McCormick; K Cooney, W Mitchell, R Higgins, A Clark, G Dodds, B Wallace, J Dalziel, R Miller. Subs used: G Innes, N Beavon, S Ruthven, A Jessop.

Glasgow Hawks: R Kerr; M Davids, S Gordon, A Maclay, S Low; I Noble, K Sinclair; G Strain, G Mories, G McFadyen, N Cadell, J Clemens, M Sitch, G Francis, G Strang. Subs used: D McLeod, A Kelly, C Tennant, J Hunter.

Scorers: Melrose: Tries: Whiteford, Murray, Miller, Wight, Macey, Dalziel. Cons: Wight (2), Ruthven. Pens: Wight (2). Glasgow Hawks: Try: Gordon. Pen: Noble

Referee: M Changleng (Gala).

Team list for this match
Grant Strang

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