National One round-up: Biggar thump Melrose to grab top spot

Heriot's move up into second place in the table despite losing on the road to Kelso, while Highland keep the heat on in fourth place

Biggar snatched top spot with a big home win against previous league-leaders Melrose. Image: Nigel Pacey
Biggar snatched top spot with a big home win against previous league-leaders Melrose. Image: Nigel Pacey

BIGGAR snatched top spot in the National League One table heading into the first mid-season mini-break after they thumped previous leaders Melrose 55-12 on Saturday.

And Kelso have breathed life into their own campaign at the other end of the table with a 31-28 victory over Heriot’s Blues that gave them their first league win of 2019-20.

With this coming weekend providing is break in league action for the Scottish Cup, there was a big crowd at Hartreemill to see Biggar, in third at the start of play, taking on Stuart Johnson’s Melrose.

The home side, who were going for a fifth triumph on the spin, set out to get on top early against a Melrose team missing a clutch of injured players, and they did just that, helped by Thomas Brown being sin-binned after just four minutes, as the home team charged into a 24-7 lead at the interval with the bonus point for four tries already in the bag.


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Ross Jackson, Chris Mulligan, Andrew Jardine, Rowan Stewart (2), Craig Borthwick, Ewan Stewart and Robbie Orr (2) scored the tries for Biggar while Jardine kicked three conversions and Conor Lavery kicked two.

For Melrose, as they lost their unbeaten record, Douglas Crawford and Connor Spence scored their tries and Donald Crawford kicked a conversion.

“We played well and I was fairly happy with big parts of our game,” said Biggar player/forwards coach Craig Borthwick. “Melrose were without some of their usual faces, but you can only play what is in front of you and the most pleasing things was that we concentrated on ourselves and controlled the things we could control.

“We came away with the win that we deserved, but there are things we can improve on. For example, we will have to work on the system errors that saw us lose two soft scores. All in all, a good day at the office.”

Heriot’s are now second in the table, ahead of Melrose on points difference, despite only taking two bonus points from their defeat at Kelso. The second bottom home side came into the Poynder Park meeting with just four points from six games, but now have eight after this positive showing.

Kelso went ahead through an early Craig Dods penalty before a converted Craig Robertson try put Heriot’s 7-3 up. Cammy Brown scored Kelso’s first try before Sean Johnstone was yellow-carded for the visitors and Dods kicked a penalty. Tries from Matthew Kindness and Dods stretched the home side into a 25-7 lead but Heriot’s rallied.

A penalty try for the visitors made it 25-14 at the break, then Dom Martin’s converted try then made it 25-21. Dods penalty for Kelso, but the Borderers then lost Andy Tait to a yellow-card and Finlay Hutchison’s try – converted by Graham Wilson – levelled things at 28-28.

However, Dods held his nerve with a late penalty to put Kelso 31-28 ahead and then the hosts showed great resolve to hold out through injury time.

“I am delighted, we haven’t been far away over the last couple of weeks,” said victorious captain Murray Hastie. “We showed a huge amount of guts on the line in the last five minutes or so to keep them out.”

Savills

Highland are fourth in the table after they got back to winning ways at home to Boroughmuir. The visitors led 8-7 early on before a Stuart MacDonald-Butler try, converted by Scott Fraser, put the hosts ahead and a further converted try saw them 21-8 up at the interval.

Highland’s second half points in a 38-20 bonus point win came from tries by Grant Jamieson and Liam Quinn with Fraser kicking seven points.

Boroughmuir’s points in defeat came from tries by Gavin Welsh, Ben Renton and Tom Gracie, with Robin Weersma kicking a penalty and Callum Anderson a conversion.

Stirling County Wolves are fifth in the table after a bonus point home win over bottom of the table Dundee HSFP.

Ayr are sixth after a 21-10 away win at Cartha Queens Park. Seth Rae and Zac Howard scored tries to help Ayr lead 15-5 at half-time. Ayr dealt with a Scott Clelland yellow -card after the break and two Jamie Bova penalties got them home. Michael Robertson and Graham Williamson scored Cartha’s tries in defeat at Dumbreck.

“It is really good to get back to winning ways. Although we drew last week [vesus Stirling County], we also played some of our best rugby, so it was great to see out this game which was nip-and-tuck at half-time,” said Ayr head coach Stuart Fenwick.  “Cartha made it really difficult for us around the set piece. We didn’t want to get sucked into that physical contest, so we managed to move their big boys around the park and get advantages from that later in the game.”

Gala and Watsonians drew 21-21 at Netherdale. Donald Kennedy, Stuart Allison and Chris Bell scored tries converted by Kerr Stoddart to put Watsonians 21-7 up. A Ross Cooke try converted by Dean Keddie and then a Fergus Johnston effort – also converted by Keddie – made it 21-21. Gala’s first try had been scored by Rex Jeffrey with Keddie adding the extras.

National League Division One results –

19/10/19
STIRLING WOLVES38 - 17DUNDEE HSFP RFC
BIGGAR RFC55 - 12MELROSE RFC
GALA RFC21 - 21WATSONIAN RUGBY
CARTHA QUEENS10 - 21AYR RFC
HIGHLAND RFC28 - 20BOROUGHMUIR
KELSO RFC31 - 28HERIOT'S BLUES

Table as it stands (19/10/19)

Nat 1PWLDFADTBLBPts
Biggar RFC109103871222659045
Heriot's Blues107304032531509138
Melrose Rugby10820266236306038
Highland RFC107303202141066135
Gala RFC10541293250436129
Stirling Wolves1054126726076129
Cartha Queens10460363308557225
Ayr RFC10451245283-385124
Watsonian FC10451246323-775023
Kelso RFC10370186340-1543217
Boroughmuir10280159294-1352212
Dundee HSFP100100169421-252101


Fixtures and results:   Premiership  |  National League 1National League 2  |  Super 6RWC2019


National Two round-up: It’s getting tight at the top

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Gary Heatly
About Gary Heatly 97 Articles
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