On a glorious day for running rugby, winless Currie battled hard, but Melrose had too much pace and power for the Edinburgh men in the end.
Melrose skipper Grant Runciman said: “I am loving playing in this team at the moment. All of the guys are digging in as a group and some of the running rugby our backs are playing is a joy to watch. We have to stick together and keep up these levels.”
With Scotland cap Richie Vernon not available to Currie, they had to re-jig their backline before kick-off. Under-20 cap Matt McPhillips came in at full-back with Harvey Elms moving to the wing and Matthew Hooks in the centre.
Mark Robertson, the Melrose lad who was part of Team GB’s men’s sevens silver medal winning squad at the Rio Olympics got a nice reception when he brought out the match ball.
And when things got underway the game was even in the opening exchanges, Currie stand-off Graeme Clow putting in a number of nice kicks to earn them good territory.
In the 13th minute Currie took the lead thanks to a penalty try. A nice chip kick ahead from scrum-half Charlie Shiel had the Melrose defence backtracking and when the defenders failed to gather the visitors made the most of it. They recycled the ball and shipped it quickly left. With Hooks about to give a try scoring pass, Melrose winger Austin Lockington deliberately knocked the ball on. Referee Mike Adamson consulted with his touch judge before awarding the score before issuing a yellow card for Lockington. for good measure
Six minutes later Melrose got themselves on the score-sheet with a penalty from stand-off Jason Baggott. And in the 22nd minute they went ahead thanks to a try by scrum-half Murdo McAndrew, which owed much to a strong break from centre Richard Taylor who set-up his brother George. A couple more phases had the Currie defence stretched befofe the scrum-half dived over under the posts. Baggott converted.
In the 30th minute Melrose hooker Russell Anderson was lucky to escape a yellow card when he joined a ruck from the side and late. And a few moments later Currie regained the lead when winger Cameron Gray finished well in the corner. Clow converted from wide out and it was 14-10.
That advantage did not last long though as Currie, who now had Glasgow Warriors’ prop Jarrod Firth on, lost winger Harvey Elms to the sin-bin. Melrose took advantage with a try through Anderson which Baggott converted.
And before the break they made their lead even larger after a cracking third try by full-back Fraser Thomson. The Scotland Club XV cap collected a great pass on the halfway line and ghosted past two defenders to score in the corner. Baggott converted.
Just before the interval, in a flurry of activity, Currie lost their skipper Ross Weston to a blood injury and Clow also went off injured. Replacement Chris Davies did kick a penaltyto keep them in things though, meaning that Melrose were 24-17 up at the interval.
Four minutes into the second half Melrose nearly extended their lead. McCann had a great break before feeding number eight Iain Moody, who was just short of the try line.
However, he didn’t have to wait long for a try of his own which gave the hosts the bonus point. Currie were falling off too many tackles at this stage and with Baggott’s conversion it was 31-17.
Currie captain Weston, sporting a large head bandage, returned to the fray and the visitors knew they had to go some to get back into this one, and in the 57th minute they gave themselves a lifeline with a third try of the day. It came from replacement prop John Cox, but Davies missed the conversion to leave things at 31-22.
The visitors had their tails up after that, but Melrose they defended well before sealing the victory with a try from second-row Lewis Carmichael. The young Edinburgh pro showed great strength to get over under the posts. A sixth try arrived when Lockington went over in the corner and Baggott added his sixth conversion.
Currie chased a losing bonus point but the home side had the last word. Winger McCann grabbed it to complete a great showing by the man-of-the-match.
Melrose:Fraser Thomson; Ross McCann, George Taylor, Richard Taylor, Austin Lockington; Jason Baggott, Murdo McAndrew; Jamie Bhatti, Russell Anderson, Nick Beavon, Ruaridh Knott, Lewis Carmichael, Neil Irvine Hess, Iain Moody, Grant Runciman (C). Subs: Neil Cochrane, Dan Elkington, Ally Grieve, Bruce Colvine, Gavin Wood.
Currie:Matt McPhillips; Harvey Elms, Robbie Nelson, Matthew Hooks, Cameron Gray; Graeme Clow, Charlie Shiel; AP McWilliam, Fergus Scott, Graeme Carson, Hamish Bain, Stephen Ainslie, Rhys Davies, Ross Weston (C), Thomas Gordon. Subs: John Cox, Jarrod Firth, Gary Temple, Richard Sneddon, Chris Davies.
Man-of-the-match: Melrose winger Ross McCann has made the step-up well from Stewart’s Melville and is a very dangerous runner.
Talking point: Melrose are a great attacking side and when they get into their stride they are very hard to stop.
Image courtesy: Douglas Hardie
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Gary has had a love for both rugby and writing for as far back as he can remember. Having cut his teeth in the ‘real world’ of journalism at the Midlothian Advertiser local newspaper for a couple of years between 2005 and 2007, he has since been kept busy covering sport, mainly rugby. He was a member of the editorial team at SCRUM Magazine for 11 years until recently and now provides regular rugby content to various national and local newspapers, magazines and websites via his company GH Media as well as hosting a podcast. Twitter: G_HMedia