STUART RUTHERFORD @ The Greenyards
MELROSE began their Premiership season in fine form , running in eight tries on a glorious afternoon at The Greenyards. The home team showed their intent from the get go with their physicality at the breakdown and at times were just too much for capital side.
With Melorse attacking ‘The Eildons’ in the first half, the breakthrough try came after only four minutes when the impressive outside centre George Taylor made a break down the left touchline. The ball was recycled and fed to James Head, who made up significant ground. Jason Baggot then dummied and dived over to put Melrose up but GeorgeTaylor missed the conversion.
Boroughmuir came back strongly following the early score and made several breaks into the home sides’ twenty two. Cynical handling in the ruck from Melrose fullback Fraser Thomson resulted in a yellow card and the Borders outfit were made to pay. After kicking to touch Boroughmuir executed one of their few lineouts of the day and prop Thomas Gracie rumbled over and Chris Laidlaw nailed the tricky conversion to make 5-7.
Melrose struck back with a penalty after Laidlaw deliberately knocked on in front of the posts, and they added their second try of the afternoon after 34 minutes when the industrious duo of Lewis Carmichael and Grant Runciman had several pick and go’s in the opposition twenty two. The ball was then fed back to Baggott who threw a tremendous lobbed pass to left wing Ross McCann, a summer addition from Stewarts Melville, who had the simple task of running it in to extend the score to 15-7, with Taylor converting. James Head powered in under the posts for Melrose’s third try of the day to leave it 22-7 at half time.
Boroughmuir head coach Peter Wright was clearly unhappy with his team’s efforts in the first half and made his feeling’s known, giving a rallying team talk on the Greenyard’s turf for all to witness. However, his efforts were in vain and it wasn’t to get any better for the team from Meggetland. Melrose captain Bruce Colvine was a second half substitution, coming on for the injured Craig Jackson. This change moved winger Austin Lockington into the centre, who immediately showed his impressive turn of pace. The South African made back-to-back breaks, setting up Colvine and Baggott for tries, securing the bonus point after only 43 minutes.
However the visitors never gave up and the cries of Wright on the touchline spurred them to keep attacking. Tries from winger Rab Cairns and backrow Dougie Herne helped Boroughmuir restore some pride and if there is a positive to take from this match it was their offensive play. At times their passing and offloading out of contact was a joy to watch, however they never had enough clean ball to make it count. Further tries from the sniping Murdo McAndrew, Ruaridh Knott and a second from McCann wrapped it up for the Borders team.
“The boys had a smile on their face and were obviously loving running with the ball in space. However, it’s week one of a block of eleven league games, so we need to keep pushing on and getting better,” said Melrose head coach Rob Chrystie.
“We failed to cope with the physicality and that was ultimately the weakness in our game. It’s a low starting point for us, so you feel we can only get better. You don’t lose anything in August so the challenge for us to simply learn and get better for next week,” said Boroughmuir head coach Peter Wright.
Melrose: F Thomson; R McCann, G Taylor, C Jackson, A Lockington; J Baggott, M McAndrew; J Bhatti, R Anderson, N Beavon, J Head, L Carmichael, N Irvine-Hess, I Moody, G Runciman (c). Subs used: C Mckay, D Elkington, R Knott, R Taylor, B Colvine.
Boroughmuir: D Steele; J Edmunds, A Cox, M Hare, R Cairns; C Laidlaw, S Johnson; D Robertson, T King, T Gracie; J Ure, M Tweddle, C Keddie, D Herne, A Rose. Subs used: J Bett, D Winning, J Scott, G McConnell, R Bradford, C McNeil.
Melrose: Tries: Baggott (2), McCann(2), Head, Colvine, McAndrew, Knott; Cons: Taylor (3) Lockington; Pens: Taylor .
Boroughmuir: Tries: Gracie, Cairns, Herne, Keddie; Cons: Laidlaw (2)
Referee: Keith Allen
Man-of-the-Match: Melrose second-row Lewis Carmichael covered every blade of grass and was highly disruptive at the lineout all day. Deserved a try for his performance.
Talking point: The Melrose scrum was the catalyst for their impressive victory. Boroughmuir could not cope with the front row of Bhatti, Anderson and Beavon and the slick Melrose backs were able to capitalise on this advantage.
Image courtesy Douglas Hardie