National One round-up: Townsend helps Melrose return to winning ways

Dundee High take another small but important step towards escaping the relegation zone with second victory of the season

James Brown celebrates scoring Melrose's third try against Boroughmuir. Image: Douglas Hardie
James Brown celebrates scoring Melrose's third try against Boroughmuir. Image: Douglas Hardie

SCOTLAND head coach Gregor Townsend’s teenage son Christian put in an assured display in his first start for Melrose as the Borderers defeated Boroughmuir in National League One on Saturday. Te Greenyards side had been on a poor run before this one, losing three league games to slip to fourth place in the table, but the players stepped up to the mark on this occasion in a 29-21 victory.

Stewart’s Melville College stand-off Townsend was one of the newer faces who did well.  “Some of the shape that Christian gave our attacking game was excellent and I can’t fault any of the players after this one,” said Melrose head coach Stuart Johnson. “The main thing after the last couple of weeks was to get a victory of any kind, I’d have taken 3-0 or 6-3, but to get the bonus point is pleasing. We will take the positive from the first 50 or so minutes and look to build on that in 2020.”

The home side took the lead in the first half through a try from Andrew Bradfield, then Gavin Welsh responded for Boroughmuir, before the experienced Grant Runciman and James Brown added to the Melrose try tally in an action-packed first half.

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Bradfield’s second try after the break made it 26-7, but Boroughmuir are scrapping for survival at the bottom of the table and came back with two converted tries, the second by captain Mark Hare, to make it 26-21, before a late long range penalty from Melrose skipper David Colvine settled it.

Boroughmuir are now just seven points clear of bottom side Dundee High after the latter got a confidence boosting 32-19 win over Ayr, their second of the season. Harry Mercer, Cailean Chalmers, Sean Gauld and Danny McGinn crossed for Dundee tries with Kieran Scoular kicking 12 points.

“It was a much better team performance,” said Dundee head coach Colin Sangster. “We went behind early, but stuck to the plan and that was pleasing.”

Ayr are now ninth, 12 points clear of the drop zone, with their points in defeat coming from tries by Cameron Young, Andy Morrison and Tom Lanni, and conversions by Ethan Aitken and Morrison.

At the top Biggar made it 11 unbeaten home games for 2019, but had to battle back for a 22-22 draw against a fast improving Gala side. The points for the home side came from tries by Andew Jardine, Donald Voas, Ross Jackson and Richard Bassett with Jardine kicking one conversion. Jardine also had a late penalty chance to win the game, but it missed and having been 17-5 down at one stage the hosts will probably have ben happy with a share of the spoils.

Gala’s tries came through Ruairi Howarth (2) and Fergus Johnston, with seven points coming from the boot of Poland internationalist Ross Cooke.

“We came away from Hartreemill with mixed emotions,” said Gala skipper Euan Dods. “We felt like we dominated the game for 50 minutes and probably should have put it to bed, but credit to Biggar they got their mauling game going and fought back. Plenty of positives to take from this game into 2020.”

Highland are third, 13 points behind Biggar, after a 49-21 home win over Kelso. There was a big crowd at Canal Park to pay their respects to Highland player Lewis MacDonald who passed away recently, and the home team were certainly up for this one.

Head coach Dave Carson was particularly impressed with man-of-the-match Mike Gordon. “We played really well in the early stages and it was great to see Mike get a hat-trick,” he said. “We went to sleep a bit in the middle part of the second half, but finished things off in style with a great Steven Rutledge try.”

Kelso go into the break in 10th place, their tries in Inverness coming from captain Murray Hastie, Scott Hilton and Fergus Common, while Craig Dods kicked three conversions.

Watsonians have moved up to fifth place after their first away win of the campaign against Stirling Wolves. Stuart Allison’s recent purple patch continued with a brace of tries and Kerr Stoddart kicking 10 points in a 17-20 victory.

Calum McPherson and Ross McKnight crossed the whitewash, and skipper Jonny Hope kicked seven points as Stirling Wolves picked up a losing bonus-point.

Cartha Queens Park against Heriot’s Blues was off due to a waterlogged pitch.

National League Division One results –

Highland 49 Kelso 21

Melrose 29 Boroughmuir 21

Stirling Wolves 17 Watsonians 20

Dundee High 32 Ayr 19

Biggar 22 Gala 22

How it stands –

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Premiership talking points from Saturday 14th December

About Gary Heatly 462 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.