Determined ’Rose in push for title glory

Melrose 19

Stirling County 13

PREMIER A

ATHOLL INNES reports from The Greenyards

A TEAM effort drove Melrose to a crucial win at The Greenyards and kept the Scottish champions just clear of the field in the title race.

The winning try came as Melrose belief and determination counted against a Stirling team that had won the earlier game between the two sides at Bridgehaugh.

A double looked on the cards until Grant Runciman sprinted in with eight minutes left, before winger Allan Dodds added the winning try as he charged down a clearance and pounced for the score two minutes before full-time.

Dodds told TheSouthern: “Richard Ferguson (hooker) kept on saying ‘go for it’ and I managed to get my body in the way.

“We had to keep chipping away and it was not always pretty at times, but we knew that if we held on to the ball, we could do it.

“We never gave up and made a big effort at the end to look after the ball.”

Melrose had to buckle under to ease out gritty visitors, who led 8-5 at the break following Brian Archibald’s penalty and Steven Swindall’s try with Fraser Thomson retaliating for Melrose.

Referee Kurt Kirkpatrick’s (ex-rugby league) handling of the match puzzled players and spectators alike, and it was a surprise that he did not hand out any yellow cards.

But Melrose have strong ambitions and aspirations to prove they can handle any situation and the league is seen as a major objective.

Even into the wind, Stirling stretched the home strengths and the holders knew they had been in a game.

Danny Gilmour scored a try halfway through the second half and a 13-5 lead tested the Melrose character and resistance, but the two late tries, both converted by Andrew Skeen, proved the difference between the sides.

Maybe it was too close for comfort – yet Melrose are in no mood to relinquish that title.

Melrose: F. Thomson; A. Dodds, B. Dick, C. Murray, J. Murray; A. Skeen, B. Colvine; N. Little, R. Ferguson, G. Holborn, S. Johnson, P. Eccles, R. Miller, G. Dodds, G. Runciman. Subs: N. Beavon, C. Keen, D. Crawford, S. McCormick, J. Helps.