Inter-District Championship: second half rally secures South win over Edinburgh

Keith Melbourne, Jae Linton and Callum Anderson tries secure narrow away win

Keith Melbourne's try hauled The South back into their match against Edinburgh at Stoneyhill. Image: John Durham
Keith Melbourne's try hauled The South back into their match against Edinburgh at Stoneyhill. Image: John Durham

Edinburgh 24

The South 27

COLIN RENTON @ Soneyhill

THE SOUTH produced a savvy second half performance to overturn an 18-point half time deficit and edge past an Edinburgh side that failed to build on a solid showing in the opening 40 minutes. The Borderers made better use of the elements than their opponents had to build a lead that they defended desperately in the closing minutes to hold out for the win.

South coach Matty Douglas praised his men and pinpointed the contribution of his complete squad as the visitors battled back for a deserved win.

“It’s an easy thing to say we were 24-6 down because of the wind. I don’t think that was the case. Edinburgh came out the blocks stronger, they looked energised and they were a bit quicker round the park”, said Douglas. “I said at half time that ‘we can’t feel sorry for ourselves and we need to find something in the second half’. We had the elements and we felt that if we had some territory we would be able to get back into the game. I think we did that, so credit to the players. It was a full squad effort – the bench made a big impact.”

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Despite the loss, his Edinburgh counterpart Bob McKillop saw reasons for optimism and praised the South for the way they rose to the challenge in the second half, although he also attributed a second half showing in which his men scored no points to their own decision making.

“The last thing we said before we came out for the second half was that we’re not going to sit on this lead, and we’re going to carry on and play. I think for the first half of the second half, we kicked too much, didn’t hold onto the ball and probably tried to defend our lead. And against that wind it was probably never going to be enough,” he said.

“They kicked excellently, they used the wind very differently to what we had done in the first half,” McKillop added. “We didn’t really use the wind, we just ran. We ran very effectively and scored some nice tries.”

With a stiff wind at their backs, Edinburgh made an impressive start and opened the scoring when the visitors failed to tidy up after a close-range line-out and Paddy Ritchie pounced. The South response came with a successful penalty effort from Kirk Ford on the first intrusion by the visitors into the opposition half.

The gap grew in 14 minutes when Calum Crookshanks crashed over from close range for a try converted by Charlie Brett.

Edinburgh were dominating possession but Ford clawed back three more points when he drilled another penalty between the uprights on a rare visit to opposition territory.

By half-time, Edinburgh had secured a four try bonus, with Ryan Daley and Robbie Kent bagging a try apiece, with a Brett conversion accounting for the other points as the hosts reached the break with a 24-6 lead.



The South restarted well and made good use of the conditions. They built a head of steam but a solid defensive effort by Edinburgh and a couple of errors meant there was no change to the score line until the 56th minute when Keith Melbourne took matters into his own hands and powered over for a score, converted by Ford.

A scrum in front of the posts produced a penalty for The South and a quick tap and go by Jae Linton allowed the dynamic No 8 to blast his way over to touch down and leave Ford a simple conversion that trimmed the deficit to four points.

And the fightback was completed nine minutes from full-time when a multi-phase move ended with the ball shipped wide to Callum Anderson who darted in. Ford’s conversion completed the scoring.

However, The South had to withstand a late onslaught from the home side, which belatedly offered an attacking threat. A solid defensive effort repelled a string of attacks and when Cammy Lessels was held up over the line, that proved to be the end of the Edinburgh challenge.


Teams –

Edinburgh: C Brett; R Hindhaugh, R Kent, N Armstrong, R Daley; S Clark, P Ritchie; R Dunbar, C Davies, C Crookshanks, J Mills, M Badenhorst, R Davies, R Kirkpatrick, J Sole. Replacements used: R Stewart, C Imrie, G Carson, S Whittaker, A Bain, C Lessels, R Watt.

The South: J Ford; J Welsh, D Patterson, A Mitchell, C Anderson, A McColm, A  Tait; S Muir, F Renwick, N Little, K Melbourne, A McColm, B McNeil, A Dun, J Linton. Replacements used: R Anderson, G Shiells, R Graham, D Redpath, C Renwick, D Crawford, S Hutchison, F Robson.

Referee: R McDowall


Scorers –

Edinburgh: Tries: Ritchie, Crookshanks, Daley, Kent; Cons: Brett 2

The South: Tries: Melbourne, Linton, Anderson; Cons: Ford 3; Pens: Ford 2.


Man-of-the-Match: There were powerful contribution by key men in both sides. For The South, Andrew Mitchell and Jae Linton were outstanding and the No 8 earns the nod for the quick-thinking that produced a try at a critical time in the game.

Talking point: The wind had an impact and spoiled the game as a spectacle, but this was a hard-fought contest between two well-drilled sides and the outcome hung in the balance until the final whistle. Further competitive fixtures lie ahead and an exciting tournament is in prospect.

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About Colin Renton 286 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!


  1. Thought the re-establishment o’ The South would pull the Borders clubs together in a positive manner.
    Seems like times have changed.
    Mostly bitter, sniping comments after a good win.

    • The comments appear to be related to Hawick’s coaching changes than the South team but I suppose you see what you want to.

      • We can’t comment on the Hawick coaching post for some reason , maybe Mr Barnes attempting to avoid controversy at his Dads old stomping ground , pretty sure there would be a lot of feedback on this topic …. open up the comments please

      • We can’t comment on the Hawick coaching post for some reason , maybe Mr Barnes attempting to avoid controversy at his Dads old stomping ground , pretty sure there would be a lot of feedback on this topic …. open up the comments please

      • I agree with you GalaHannay (twice!) but my point was that this issue has nothing to do with The South and the comments don’t suggest the representative side isn’t pulling Borders clubs together and there are no bitter sniping comments about the South as Rob suggested.

  2. Weel din ‘The Sooth’ however if you keep this up and win the District Championship you’re in danger of the SRU renaming you ‘The Melrose Natives’!
    Seriously though well done to all concerned (including the Melrose lads) in battling out the win which required determined united defence right up to the final whistle against a strong Edinburgh team.
    Thanks to TOL for excellent reporting of the District Championship and to Borders Rugby for their radio coverage.

  3. Agree with Hugh Pollock. Why was there nothing from the SRU ? It’s bad enough that the national press don’t bother with club rugby but one would have thought this new tournament might have generated some more media attention.
    Musselburgh RFC put up some very handy travel/parking advise on their website and are to be congratulated for their welcoming approach to the match.

  4. Well done OSL on the inter district reports.
    Musselburgh served up a great welcome, fine hospitality and an excellent game.
    It was perhaps disappointing to see so few city club reps around on the day but their side played very well.
    The coaching/managment team of the south did very well to turn the game around.
    Again thanks to our hosts at Musselburgh, a really great, grounded, passionate and active club.

  5. I think the timing from Hawick isn’t great and think it puts the coaches in a bad situation where realistically they can’t see the season out! Poor from club

    That said if you have read the rumours etc on here the last few months then the correct decision has been made and the players and club should not get a hard time, if the coach has bad player management and lack of coaching skills as reported then is this a suprise? In my opinion Hawick will be mid table next season with or without he has had great success with a fabulous squad in a poor premiership expect 2 or 3 teams if he was coaching Jed this season the result would have been the same he is no miracle worker just a coach who had good players.

    There are two sides to every story and a decision like this doesn’t get made just because a couple players are unhappy there is more to it and will come out in the wash…. If his touchline antics are anything to go by he’s a very unpleasant individual.

    • Borderman , I get that but why would Hawick choose the decision to go out with this news two games before the end of the season , if it has been a chronic issue all season ( and last) then why would you not just ride it out for the last two games ? If such an issue why choose the same coach to lead the South for the second year in succession ?? Something really reeks with this and more to it than we are led to believe I suspect.
      If player management issues are the reason it should not really take two whole seasons to act upon it.
      Believe me I’ve watched some other Borders clubs in action and if they all reacted to poor player management then there would not be many coaches in place but more often than not they ignore issues like this.
      As alluded young coaches are undoubtedly feeling pressure from senior player cliques in a number of clubs so possibly adopt a more defensive position because of that so the clubs unlikely to be blameless in this.
      This is where “Directors “ of rugby should be of value but only if they have a backbone which unfortunately is sadly lacking at times, particularly across the Borders clubs.
      Although it seems we cannot yet make comment on this on the TOL feed it is raised , I see Mr Bannerman has been at pains not to make any reference to the Hawick position which is quite unusual for him.
      Really bizarre timing , more to this than meets the eye on this one , watch how this unfolds …
      All I can say is that there is likely to be a reality series coming out shortly about living in Hawick , it appears that there is never a dull moment and I think a decent script writer might even struggle to imagine some of the twists and turns that living in Hawick seems to conjure up … Hoggy .. the next “JR Ewing”

      • No matter the reasons it’s poor timing
        No matter the reasons there’s a way to treat folk properly especially when they seem to have done a good job.
        Not a good look

      • hold on so you think poor player management and poor treatment of players should be swept under the carpet!? I sincerely hope you are not involved in any club, I believe the treatment of Matty and the other coach has been poor and the timing not great from Hawick but how do you know it has taken two years to act on it? I feel the Hawick players are getting a very tough time during all this.

        was interesting to note how poorly the south played first half on Saturday and 4 Hawick player were subbed before 50 minutes, hopefully for the clubs sake this does not affect the players too much and they can finish the season strongly.

      • And what is wrong with Hawick GRob great Town greater people ma hame Town so please mind what you are saying thank you

  6. Happening far too often nowadays with senior player cliques having too much influence and able to undermine young , inexperienced coaches and exacerbated when there is also weak senior club management , seen it in the last couple of years at Jed , Melrose and now apparently Hawick if rumours are true….

  7. Truly bizarre decision and timing from Hawick RFC to announce the coaching changes for next season on the day their current club head coach is leading the South coaching team. The decision to change coach in its own right makes little or no sense but to announce it whilst still unfinished club cup fixtures etc is truly baffling.
    Even if Matty Douglas had done a bad job , which he hasn’t , taking a decision like this reeks to the heavens. I wonder what nonsensical nonsense has led to this , surely this can’t be down to the mutterings around Stuart Hogg’s return in some form…. surely not.

    • If memory serves me right there has been murmurings on here for months and months now around the head coach and his treatment of players and his lack of coaching ability so now why are people feeling sorry for him and the other coaches? Only hearing one side to this story as per usual but I don’t think the blame should be laid at players when they have done all the work on the field and nothing official around them having anything to do with any decision? Nikki walker, Stuart Hogg, Graham Hogg, Scott McLeod, Greg McLeod, Jim renwick, Jim hay. The list goes on of people supposedly coming in. Lot of bollocks.

    • Weird timing of the Hawick announcement. Even big Ange leaving Celtic wasn’t announced until after the cup final which was the last game of the season.

      Again, great coverage from TOL across every level of rugby in Scotland but interesting that TOL have no comments open on that.

  8. Congratulations to TOL – for the results & reports on both district games.
    Still no results showing at SRU!


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