DAVID BARNES @ Meggetland
A RAMPANT second half performance in which Melrose helped themselves to five unanswered tries sent out a strong message to the chasing pack that a couple of slightly flat performances in recent weeks should not be interpreted as anything other than a minor mid-season wobble.
The foundations of this emphatic victory were laid in the opening 40 minutes when the Borderers soaked up a deluge of pressure but still went in at the break with their noses in front. Having gone three games without a win coming into yesterday’s game, and with only two wins in total to their name this season, the hosts seemed to be a spent force physically and psychologically by the time they emerged for the second half.
“I think people were getting a bit carried away just because we weren’t racking up loads of points but now we are getting a few boys back into it and there is a real buzz developing. The seconds had a really good win as well and there are some really good young players coming through there, so they’re pushing the whole thing on,” said Melrose coach Rob Chrystie.
“They chucked the kitchen sink at us and we defended really, really well. If you look at the structure of our defence, it was solid, and they weren’t really going anywhere until they got penalties and took field position off that. I’ll have to look back at the video to see why we were so undisciplined in the eyes of the referee.”
“Once we started to play a bit we did it at the right times, which was really important because I think in weeks past we have tries to play a little bit too early at times,” he continued. “It is about having the balance in our game, and that was good today. Jason Baggott controlled the game well, and with Murdo they had that zip in their play again which was really pleasing to see. I thought the pack did well and they looked fit. Boys were coming off there looking fresh and like they could keep going – which is brilliant.”
It was another tough day at the office for Boroughmuir but head coach Peter Wright knows that this not the time for his boys to start feeling sorry for themselves. They are currently second bottom of the table but only five points behind Gala and Stirling County, who they play next weekend.
“At half-time we were in the game but I don’t think Melrose played very well in that period – they kicked away a lot of ball, which kind of surprised us. Defensively they were really solid the whole game – I think they’ve got the best defence in the league, they fill the field and hit hard – and in the second half they wore us down and scored some good tries. They scored some soft tries as well, but ultimately I think it was a fair result,” said Wright.
“We’ve got a lot to work on but there are eight games to go and we’ve just got to believe that if we can get the ball we can hurt teams. We didn’t get enough ball in the second half today. The boys are committed to getting better and that’s all we can ask for. Stirling next weekend is a huge game,” he added.
Melrose took an early lead through a Jason Baggott penalty then extended their advantage with a George Taylor try, scored after they kicked a penalty to the corner and tried to drive the line-out over, with inside centre Craig Jackson even adding his weight to the effort. Boroughmuir did well to halt the juggernaut just short, but they had no answer when the ball was fired out to Taylor, who was coming in on a wicked angle with serious pace.
The Borderers repeated the trick on the opposite side of the park later in the half, except this time it was winger Ross McCann who went over after the line-out drive had come up just short.
In the meantime, Boroughmuir demonstrated that they can rumble it at the touchline as well, with Matt Walker grounding the ball after the home pack had caught and driven over the whitewash.
Boroughmuir narrowed the gap to just one point at the break when second-row Matthew Tweddle and prop Dale Robertson combined to send Jordan Edmunds over in the corner, but it didn’t take long for Melrose to stretch away at the start of the second-half, with Baggott slotting his second penalty of the afternoon and McCann bagging his second, and his team’s third, try with a sharp twenty yard run-in after finding himself in space on the left touchline.
Another line-out drive brought the bonus point try for Melrose with only 55 minutes gone. This time it was Richard Taylor – ordinarily a centre but guesting in the pack because James Head was unwell – who got the ball down.
“Richard has been training there. Because we only have five subs it does limit you if you only have players with specialised positions, so it is something we’ve looked at and he’s keen to develop that as an option – centres and backrows are very similar in their skillsets,” explained Chrystie.
Melrose were now in complete control but they didn’t take their foot off Boroughmuir’s throat. Another penalty kicked to the corner seemed like a precursor to yet another line-out rumble, but the visitors decided to mix it up, and after Ruaridh Knott peeled at the front, the ball was sent across the park, with Fraser Thomson standing up three men with one step before sending Nyle Godsmark over virtually unchallenged.
Ross McCann scooted in for his hat-trick try with just two minutes to go and Austen Lockington hammered the final nail into Boroughmuir’s coffin when he dotted down under the posts in the last play of the match.
Boroughmuir: G Cannie; G McConnell, R Kerr, M Hare, J Edmunds; C Laidlaw, N Fowles; D Robertson, T King, D Winning, J Ure, M Tweddle, A Walker, M Walker, C Keddie©. Subs: S Clark, T Gracie, A Mncube, D Steele, A Cox.
Melrose: F Thomson; A Lockington, G Taylor, C Jackson ©, R McCann; J Baggott, M McAndrew; J Bhatti, R Anderson, R McLeod, A Greive, L Carmichael, N Irvine-Hess, R Knott, I Moody. Subs: R Ferguson, D Elkington, J Head, R Taylor, N Godsmark,
Referee: L Ramos
Boroughmuir: Try: Walker, Edmunds; Con: Laidlaw
Melrose: Try: G Taylor, McCann 3, R Taylor, Godsmark, Lockington; Con: Baggott 2; Pen: Baggott 2
Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir first): 0-3; 0-8; 5-8; 7-8; 7-13; 12-13 (h-t) 12-16; 12-21; 12-23; 12-28; 12-30; 12-35; 12-40; 12-45.
Yellow cards –
Man-of-the-match: Three tries for Ross McCann underlined his credentials as one of the most deadly finishers in the league.
Talking point: Boroughmuir’s wide men have shown flashes of brilliance this year, but do they need to deliver more when they don’t have the ball in their hands?
Image courtesy: Dave Paterson