BT Premiership: Melrose confirm home play-off with mauling of Marr

Grant Runciman in action.
Grant Runciman in action. Image: © Craig Watson -

AFTER losing their last two games and having several matches postponed, Melrose returned to winning ways with a comfortable 43-0 win at Marr. It has been obvious since the opening weeks of the season that Rob Chrystie’s side were heading for a home semi-final in the play-offs, and this bonus-point victory has at last assured them of that.

“I’m pretty pleased,” the Melrose coach said after successfully negotiating the first leg of a Fullarton Park double-header – he takes his squad there again next weekend in the quarter-finals of the BT Cup. “We coped well with determined opponents and difficult conditions. We did the simple things very well, and this result guarantees us a home semi-final in the play-offs, which is where we wanted to be at this stage.”

It was a case of job done, therefore, for the league leaders. Although the sticky underfoot conditions and driving rain militated against their playing expansive rugby, they adapted well to a more forward-orientated game before throwing the ball around a bit in the final quarter.

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And Chrystie was delighted to see youngsters such as Struan Hutchison, who was flung on as an emergency winger when Fraser Thomson had to go off at half-time, putting their hands up for more regular games. “We’ve laid down a marker now and will keep working,” the coach continued. “We have it all to do again next week.”

Austin Lockington put the visitors in front after five minutes, when he gathered a free-ball cross-kick from Jason Baggott to go over, after an advancing maul had been illegally halted. Seven minutes later, Melrose scored again, and once more it was off a driven maul from a close-range line-out, hooker Russell Anderson getting the touch down, with Craig Jackson converting.

Chrystie’s squad had to wait until the half-hour mark to claim their third try against the league’s bottom club, and it was initiated by a brilliantly judged kick from Thomson which was played out by Marr. From the lineout, the visiting pack drove, and Anderson again touched down.

Half-time replacement Ruaridh Knott scored the bonus-point try, crashing over at the posts to give Jackson a simple conversion, following some thwarted Melrose charges. Marr’s Ross Miller collected a yellow card on the hour, and from the following scrum, Melrose’s forward progress was illegally halted, resulting in a penalty try,

Marr ran out of props in the final 10 minutes, which meant uncontested scrums. To their credit the home side put Melrose under some heavy pressure, but the visitors broke out and Lockington scampered in for his second try, again unconverted. Then, in the final move of the game, Knott again forced his way over and Jackson converted to complete the rout.