Another hard day in Borders
By Hugh Barrow
Godsman scores in debut
MELROSE made hay in perfect autumn sunshine at The Greenyards by running in 50 points against a Glasgow Hawks side missing a clutch of key players, the result putting the defending champions at the top of the Tennent’s Premiership table.
Hawks expected to have three Glasgow players in their side to face Melrose only for the trio of Matt Smith, Bruce Flockhart and Lelia Masaga to be withdrawn on Thursday morning. Smith is serving. one-arch suspension, the other two have shoulder injuries.
In the event, Hawks were forced to field a number of youngsters behind the scrum. “They are young but they’re going to have to grow up soon,” stated the Glasgow Hawks coach, Finlay Gillies, who picked out Kristian Kay and Murray Godsman as deserving credit for their contributions off the bench in the second half.
Gillies insisted that, despite the damning scoreline, he is not dejected. He said: “I’m not super disappointed. For the first 15 minutes I thought we were the better team. We controlled possession but as soon as they got one sniff they scored straight away. There were plenty of positives. The reason we conceded tries in the first half was not system errors but simply tackling too high.”
Hawks certainly made Melrose work hard to contain the abrasive play of the visitors’ forwards, who, with Grant Stewart and Gary Adams always trying to punch holes in the home defence, earned huge plaudits.
“Credit to them. They held the ball well,” conceded the Melrose coach, Rob Chrystie. “We had to be defensively very strong and I thought we were. We’re making steps in the right direction. We’re looking a lot more comfortable as a team.”
Melrose were helped by the release from Edinburgh of Magnus Bradbury and the offer by former Scotland and Newcastle front row Scott Lawson to help his old club overcome their hooker injury crisis, that is a result of both Russell Anderson and Richard Ferguson being sidelined.
“Scott answered the SOS. I think he appreciates what the club did for him before he got his international call-up. It’s a really good example of giving something back,” noted Chrystie.
Melrose, after completing what looked like a 15 minute training session in defence, struck with lethal precision when they switched to attacking mode, their opening try coming from an exchange of passes between wing Michael Mvelase-Julyan and creator-in-chief Craig Jackson for the South Africa born wing to score in the corner, Jackson adding the difficult conversion goal.
With Hawks’ resistance broken, Melrose stepped up a gear or nine and were rewarded with a try by wing Bruce Colvine from a break by Iain Moody. Back-row Moody was again the provider as prolific scorer Fraser Thomson dashed in for try number three, again converted by Jackson.
The bonus try was inevitable and arrived when Bradbury broke off a scrum before pounding through three defenders to score wide out, leaving Jackson with a difficult but successful conversion kick.
Then just before half-time, Moody switched roles to become a scorer after fending off several tackles in a powerful run down the left touchline.
Hawks appeared to have recovered composure in the second half and earned their reward for dogged play, complemented by some clever off-loading, with a try by replacement Murray Godsman, converted by Glen Faulds, after Kristian Kay had opened up the defence.
The Glasgow side, however, were ruthless punished for a dropped pass when Rory Darge seized the ball before taking route one for a try under the posts, leaving Jackson with a simple two pointer.
Melorse then added 12 points with second tries for Colvine and Moody, Jackson’s conversion of the last score bringing up
Melrose: F Thomson; B Colvine, P Anderson, C Jackson, L Mvelase-Julyan; S Hutchison, M McAndrew; G Shiells, B McLean, R McLeod, J Head, A Runciman, I Moody, R Darge, M Bradbury Subs C Young, S Lawson, R Knott, G Runciman, G Wood.
Glasgow Hawks: G Faulds; J McCready, E Oag, C Symes, J Couper; M New, P Boyer; G Strain, G Stewart, L Skinner, C Thomson, A Kirkland, A Fraser, S Leckey, G Adams Subs P Cairncross, S Findlay, S Dow, K Kay, M Godsman.
Referee: I Kenny
Melrose: Tries: Mvelase-Julyan, Colvine 2, Thomson, Bradbury, Moody 2, Darge; Cons: Jackson 5.
Glasgow Hawks: Try: Godsman; Con: Faulds.
Scoring Sequence (Melrose first): 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 17-0, 19-0, 24-0, 26-0, 31-0 (h-t) 31-5, 31-7, 36-7, 38-7, 43-7, 48-7, 50-7
Man-of-the-Match: Since joining from Boroughmuir three seasons ago, Iain Mooody has been a mainstay in the Melrose pack and a go-to man in the line-out. Against Glasgow Hawks the tall backrow showed why he is often included in the Melrose sevens team by laying on two tries and moreover bagging two for himself.
Talking point: Without relegation the 2018-19 already has a strange feel about it. Clubs are no longer under threat and as such they can experiment without fear of the consequences. Glasgow Hawks are a case in point. In the absence of leading players like Ross Thompson, Josh Henderson and Bobby Beattie, all sidelined by injury, Hawks have been forced to bring in a number of young and inexperienced players. They may have become the school/club of hard knocks but the result could be a crop of teenagers emerging as core players in the future.