ATHOLL INNES reports from The Greenyards
MELROSE kicked off their season in a winning style, but Peebles battled with the Scottish champions all the way.
The new boys for Melrose, who were without professionals Fraser Thomson, Bruce Dick and Scott Wight, scored four of the eight tries accrued by their team while stand-off Richard Mill added six conversions.
Peebles played their part after falling 0-14 behind after six minutes, but clawed their way back into the contest.
“I thought that it was going to be a long afternoon, but we then had the better of the first half,” said new head coach Peter Wright.
Melrose were delighted with the performance of the new players.
“They have fitted in well on and off the field and I was delighted with the performance,” said Craig Chalmers.
“We tried out a few things before the real action starts on Saturday [at Stirling].”
The Scottish champions switched Andrew Skeen from full back to stand-off in the second half with Sam Chalmers moving back to No15 as the coach experimented with the changes.
Peebles, who scored four tries and for whom Kiwi centre James Hemara was outstanding, were pleased with the display ahead of the game against Musselburgh.
“It was a very good run-out and you know what to expect against Melrose,” said Peebles captain Dale Clancy. “We got into the game a lot better after the first 10 minutes and we know what we have to do.
“Melrose ran away a bit with it at the end, but we could take a lot out of it. I am sure that we will hit the ground running.”
It did not look positive for Peebles as Melrose raced into a 14-0 lead with tries from Lewis Mallin and Greg White.
And despite another score from Grant Runciman, Peebles kept in contention with tries from Graham Hogarth, Neil Hogarth and Connor Blyth.
In the second half, Andrew Nagle, Nick McGrath (2), Bruce Colvine and Mallin again added to the Melrose total and Mill added the goal points. Warren Kearney scored a fourth try and Gus Raeburn added the goal points for Peebles.
Melrose: A. Skeen; L. Mallin, S. Chalmers, J. Helps, G. White; R. Mill, B. Colvine; N. Little, W. Mitchell, G. Holborn, R. Ovens, R. Miller, J. Dalziel, G. Runciman, A. Nagle. Subs: R. Ferguson, C. Arthur, P. Eccles, T. Wilson, N. McGrath.
Peebles: D. Anderson; C. Blyth, C. Scott, J. Hemara, N. Hogarth; G. Raeburn, D. Clancy; A. Brown, M. Carryer, R. Milne, K. Clyde, W. Kearny, A. Warnock, G. Hogarth, D. Hall. Subs: J. Menzies, F. Dale, D. Wills, D. Kerr, S. Raeburn.