BRITISH AND IRISH CUP
IAIN HOUSTON reports
from the Greenyards
A SECOND-half fightback was not quite enough for Melrose to end their British and Irish Cup campaign with victory.
With injuries to senior half-back players, Melrose fielded youngsters Bruce Colvine and Craig Jackson in these key positions and both came through with considerable credit.
The match started off at 100 miles per hour and continued thus throughout.
Bristol took the lead when Anthony Elliot scored in the corner with Ed Barnes’ conversion going in off the post.
After 12 minutes, Barnes kicked a penalty and the Championship side increased their lead when Dan Montagu scored a push-over try, converted by Barnes.
Two minutes later Grant Runciman, in effervescent form, made a break, passing right to Nick Beavon who set up Graeme Dodds who raced in for a try converted by Jackson.
However, within three minutes, Barnes made a break and after an excellent passage of inter-passing George Watkins scored a try to give Bristol a 22-7 lead.
Was a hammering on the cards? Watch this space. Within a minute of the restart Jackson missed a penalty, but Melrose took the game to Bristol.
After a five-minute spell of bashing at the Bristol line, John Dalziel crashed over for a try which Jackson converted on 53 minutes.
Four minutes later, winger Callum Anderson raced over the tryline from halfway, but prop Wayne Thomson finished off a Bristol breakaway for a bonus-point try. All was not yet lost, for, within six minutes of coming on, Bristol replacement prop Ross Johnstone was invited to take a seat in the sin-bin for over-exuberant rucking.
Before Thomson re-entered the fray, Ewan Ford made a fine break, off-loading to Graeme Dodds who crashed over for his second try, and the Melrose bonus point, converted by Jackson on 74 minutes.
Then, Fraser Thomson, clear down the stand side, was forced to put a foot in touch just 10 metres from glory.
Melrose: F. Thomson, C. Anderson, J. Murray, C. Murray, A. Dodds, C. Jackson, B. Colvine, N. Beavon, G. Innes, G. Holborn, G. Elder, R. Miller, J. Dalziel, G. Runciman, G. Dodds. Subs: R. Higgins, W. Mitchell, S. Johnson, H. Mitchell, E. Ford, C. Hardie and D. McColl.