Tennent’s Premiership: pack power decisive as Melrose despatch Accies

Things are about to get serious for the Borderers with trip to Ayr next weekend

Melrose V Edinburgh Accies 3-1
Bruce Colvine scores for Melrose ***Image courtesy: John Williamson***

Melrose 38

Edinburgh Accies 5

ALAN LORIMER @ The Greenyards

MELROSE completed their first tranche of matches with a fourth successive victory and a perfect record of a bonus point from each of their Tennent’s Premiership games thus far to mirror their performances of last season. 

But they are acutely aware that their opponents so far, save for Watsonians,  have not exactly been the league’s biggest hitters. The challenge for Melrose begins next Saturday when they face Ayr at Millbrae.

Against Edinburgh Accies, it was clear that Melrose were using the match to work on certain aspects of their game before their trip to the west coast next weekend. Top of the bill appeared to be their use of the driving maul as a scoring weapon, while there was, too, an equal concentration on working on a tight defence that gave their opponents little chance to find a way to the try line.

Charlesfield Melrose
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The first three Melrose tries were all attributable to the driving maul allowing the Greenyards men to build a healthy lead while their aggressive defence kept their line unbreached.  “I was pleased again at the start we made. What we had worked on the players delivered,” said Rob Chrystie, the Melrose coach.

What was less pleasing was the way the fizz went out of the Melrose performance in the second half when they could add only two further scores.

“We just kind of lost our way there for a while. Maybe a couple of connections didn’t quite click. Just little mistakes,” conceded Chrystie. “We did make a lot of changes, though. We finished the game with five front row players on the park.”

Chrystie, however, gave credit to the opposition. “Accies showed a lot more determination this weekend than they did last weekend. As a group they played a lot better. They kept control of the ball for long periods of time,” he said

Accies’ cause looked hopeless seven minutes into the second half when they trailed 33-0 but somehow they found the will to raise their performance level sufficiently to put pressure on Melrose.

But this has become a characteristic of Accies’ matches, as their coach Derek O’Riordan admitted. “We were more pleased with the second half. 12-5 was more a reflection of how we wanted the game to go. But it was the same as when we played against Ayr and against Stirling, the second halves have always been a better measure of what we’re about,” he said.

“We’ve got to go away and think about how we break that cycle of starting slow in the first half, but if we start well and can dominate possession and territory early doors, then we’ve got a sniff. For us, the ingredients are there we just have to knit them altogether and produce a performance,” he concluded.

Melrose did not take long to establish their scoring rhythm, Bruce Colvine dotting down after only four minutes following a driving maul and then intelligent, defence-splitting passing.

Two further driving mauls from penalty-created line-outs produced two tries for hooker Russell Anderson and Ruaridh Knott, and when Iain Moody crashed over after unrelenting Melrose pressure the bonus point was in the bag.

Early in the second half, stand-off Struan Hutchison side-stepped through the fragmented Accies defence to score try number five, Craig Jackson’s fourth conversion giving his side a 33-0 lead.

Then, after a drop in tempo by Melrose, the Greenyards men regrouped and after pressure on Accies’ line, Gavin Wood took a short pass from replacement scrum-half Murdo McAndrew to score the final Melrose try.

Accies, however, showed creditable fighting spirit and were rewarded for their staying power with a try in the corner by Robbie Davis from Will Stephen’s chip over the defence.

Teams –

Melrose: F Thomson; G Wood, P Anderson, C Jackson, I Sim; S Hutchison, B Colvine; G Shiels, R Anderson, C Young, J Head, A Runciman, R Knott, R Darge, I Moody. Subs: F Scott, R McLeod, C Wilde, M McAndrew, D Colvine.

Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; C Gray, G Spencer, N Armstrong, C Ramm; W Stephen, R Davis; J Pearse, C Black, C Lacour, A Inwood, M Badenhorst, J Sole, N Hall, R Campbell. Subs: C Taylor, R Lovett, A Wood, M Sinclair, J Loomes.

Referee: D Sutherland

Scorers –

Melrose: Tries B Colvine, Anderson, Knott, Moody, Hutchison, Wood;  Cons: Jackson 4.

Edinburgh Accies: Try Davis

Scoring Sequence (Melrose first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 17-0; 19-0; 24-0; 26-0 (h-t) 31-0; 33-0; 38-0; 38-5

Man-of-the-Match: Melrose established their dominance largely through a hard working defence and no player exemplified the work that was done in halting attacking by Accies than second row Angus Runciman.

Talking point: After a ‘soft’ start to the season Melrose will now be tested to the limit over the next few rounds of the championship. They will have worries about the fitness of their inspirational full-back Fraser Thomson, who went off with a hyper-extended knee injury, but they have shown in recent weeks that they have depth.

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About Alan Lorimer 360 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.