Referee Eddie Murray took a pasting in the stand, which was unfair. Referees give what they see. He just saw things nobody else did, like a Scot Nicol try which had been touched down by Gerry Hawkes.

Ah well, Eddie is an accountant, and a good bloke, so my references to him will be of the single entry type only, and we move on to the rugby. Eddie had no bearing on the result, and had a bad day. That is all, we all have them.

I have seen both of Melrose's losses this season, and on each occasion they have been beaten at the physical stuff up front.

There is one word scribbled on my notes from Old Anniesland on Saturday, and, in capitals, there it is TACKLING. The truth about this match is that Glasgow Hawks put such a stranglehold on Melrose with their uncompromising tackling, both front on in the close exchanges and out wide in cover defence, that a fast and skilful team of good Borders rugby players had the life wrung from them in dramatic fashion.

Tackles that got me in particular included a lift and spike by Gerry Hawkes, (penalised by Eddie, oops, that is double entry) two lift and dumps from big Andy Plastow, a shoulder charge on Craig Smith again by Plastow, and a lift and crash out of play from Torquil Mathewson.

There were also various smothering efforts from Andy Ness, countless felling of opponents out wide, and one hack and chase which ended up with the excellent covering Andy Purves, of Melrose, submerged in red-and-black jerseys.

Yes, you seldom see a Melrose pack come off second best, but this Hawks eight is full of uncompromising souls, and with Aussie Plastow, New Zealander Gavin Walsh, another couple of direct souls in Kevin Horton and Chris Docherty in the front row, and the

mobility of Scott Hutton and Andy Ness elsewhere the Hawks have the size and bulk to upset most.

Yet there was a sensation that Melrose arrived here in Glasgow believing the much-hyped Hawks aura, and had lost the game almost as they stepped off the bus. Melrose were meek.

Behind the scrum the key to all attacking is to have pace and power in the back three, and a stand-off who can dictate tactics. The Hawks antipodean trio is completed by Eugene Martin whose kicking boots, on Saturday's evidence, were left somewhere over the far east en route to Glasgow, but whose calming presence is all pervading.

Both wingers, Mathewson and Hawkes, are back to some form, and Peter Harris at full back is obviously strong on the ball and can kick. Cammy Little remains one of the great mysteries of Scottish rugby to me. Too much attention to cricket has stopped him being a great.

But there is predictability afoot. Take Melrose's favourite free kick. The wall lines up, it parts, and Craig Smith, hot running prop, barges through. The Hawks knew this and were waiting. Melrose are given another free kick, this time the ball goes blind. Look, Melrose need a better second option.

But what of the Hawks predictability? Well, coach Bill McDonald is on record as saying that what he saw of Waikato in New Zealand this summer told him that they drove every lineout within 20 metres of the try line and went for the score.

So, close to the line, Hawks fiddle with the lineout, transfer the ball a yard or so within bodies, and then launch an assault for the line. The try by Andy Ness came that way, and in Hawks lineouts there is sweet movement, especially by Chas Afuakwah, before the ball is thrown in. Melrose, too, have their tricks, especially a fake peel from Scott Aitken possession that is shifted even wider to Craig Redpath running at the stand-off.

Melrose played the crisper game, Stuart Thom is a good scrum half and Karl Thomson in the centre, although mighty powerful, is being overshadowed by Scot Nicol who can blast through gaps with pace.

Up front there is not a team in the whole country who can ruck like Melrose, but their fleet-footedness was not matched by power. Hard though Robbie Brown, Smith, and Redpath battle, there is a fragility about the Melrose eight not seen in past seasons, especially in defending rolling mauls and in the set scrummage. That will worry them.

The game? Not brilliant, with much set-piece to set-piece huffing and puffing and too many basic mistakes like kicking the ball out on the full. Plenty of endeavour. A good win for a workmanlike Hawks team that had the crowd baying at the end, but it took some time for this game to warm up, I can tell you.

Glasgow Hawks - P Harris; T Mathewson, M McGrandles, D Wilson, G Hawkes; E Martin, C Little (C Dunlop, 82min); K Horton, C Docherty, G Walsh, S Hutton, C Afuakwah, F Wallace, A Plastow, A Ness.

Melrose - B Ruthven; M Moncrieff, S Nicol, K Thompson, A Purves; A Morris (S Ruthven, 63), S Thom; C Smith, D Graham (W Mitchell, 63), M Browne (I Cornwell, 70), R Brown, S Aitken, D Watt, R Griffith (A Clark, 80), C Redpath.

Referee - E Murray (Greenock Wanderers).

Scoring sequence (Hawks first) 0-5, 5-5, 8-5, 11-5 (half-time) 14-5, 14-8, 17-8, 20-8.

Scorers Hawks: Tries - Ness (14mins). Penalties - Martin (37, 40, 43, 52, and 80). Melrose: Tries - Nicol (8). Penalties - Morris (50).