RBS REGIONAL CUP/
ATHOLL INNES reports from The Greenyards
IT was pensioners’ party time at The Greenyards on Saturday – a month late, but the crackers were pulled with fire on the field.
It did not matter that the party had been delayed, especially after Melrose outplayed Peebles by seven tries to three. But the hosts were not totally convincing as the players tried to put aside the disappointment, and almost disbelief, of three successive defeats.
This was a combined RBS Cup and Bookers Border League game with prestige the principal commodity at stake, but players on both sides emerged with their hopes boosted for the future.
Melrose captain Graeme Dodds agreed: “We have got some of our confidence back, but we have been told by the coach (Craig Chalmers) that we have to cut out the basic mistakes.”
Peebles, who will play in Premiership C for the remainder of the season, insist that their players now have more belief in themselves.
“There was a spell in the second part of the first half that we pressed Melrose and maybe it could have been different if decisions had not gone against us,” said rugby director Graeme Paterson. “We are not moving left or right, we are moving forward.”
“It was an excellent performance, which was lacking in our last few games and something that we are looking for.
“The guys stood up well and we are ready for the next round of matches. We could not ask for more.”
Melrose face a tough seven games in the run-in to the title, disrupted by the Six Nations tournament, if they want to hold on to their championship, but both they and Peebles feel that they are now on the home straight in which defeat is now not an option.
’Rose won comfortably, despite a series of handling errors and mistimed passes, and there were some battling performances, particularly from Ian Robertson in the line-out and Callum Wilde on the wing, on display.
“That was a win that we needed to restore confidence in the side,” added Dodds. “However, we still need to be more consistent as we will be under a lot of pressure with Gala and Currie among others on our tails.
“For us, it is all about the league now and every game will be massive for us. We have to keep winning.”
Peebles never gave up the fight and were rewarded with two tries in the final seven minutes despite Melrose storming into an early 19-3 lead.
Allan Dodds raced in for a double and Chris Hardie scored a third, and a huge score seemed inevitable, but it was only with the wind advantage that Melrose found their best rhythm with scores after the break from veteran Cammie Murray, who had to leave the field with an injured shoulder, Bruce Colvine, Graeme Dodds, from a typical forwards drive, and Scott McCormick.
Andrew Skeen kicked six conversions in the difficult conditions.
Tahiti Walsh scored in the first half and Martin Clyde and Kenny Clyde in the second for Peebles with Raeburn kicking a penalty and conversion.
It was closer than the score suggests.
Melrose: A. Dodds; C. Hardie, J. Murray, C. Murray, J. Helps; A. Skeen, B. Colvine; C. Keen, R, Fergusson, G. Holborn, R. Ovens, I. Robertson, D. Crawford, G. Runciman, G. Dodds. Subs: P. Tamba, R. McLeod, S. Johnson, S. McCormick, C. Wilde.
Peebles: D. Anderson; C. Blyth, A. Smellie, T. Welsh, N. Hogarth; G. Raeburn, D. Clancy; A. Brown, M. Carryer, T. Mapuilesua, M. Thomson, J. Serex, K.Clyde, D. Hall, J. Forrester. Subs: D. Brown, A. Nowlan, M. Clyde, G. McConnell.