IN GLORIOUS sunshine on the Costa del Melrose, the home club was unable to overcome the Hammie Dynamiters in the final of the Davidson Chalmers VETS Tournament.
Now in its fourth year, the tournament consists of teams of 10 players, with clubs eliminated being entered into subsidiary Bowl and Plate events.
This year the event comprised Melrose, Orkney, the Cayman Harlequins, Tynedale (Northumberland), Islay, Glasgow Legends (Glasgow Hawks), Hamilton (South Africa), Morgan Academy and the Auld Reekies (Edinburgh clubs).
Melrose knew from the outset that it was going to be a tough afternoon, despite having some weel-kent old heads on old bodies in their ranks – including the ever-youthful Doddie Weir.
In their first match they only managed to scrape past the Cayman Harlequins 14-12, the far-flung Caribbean islanders bolstered by a number of not-so-far-flung Hawick Harlequins players.
It was easier going in the second tie and Melrose cruised to an easy victory 63-5 over Orkney.
In the semi-final, Melrose came up against more island opposition in Islay. The visitors had arrived short of players and, offering anyone who turned out for them a bottle of whisky, immediately found volunteers from Gala. With the scoreline 21-21 at the final whistle the game moved into extra time with Melrose grabbing the winning try.
That set up a date with the Hammie Dynamiters, the veterans team from Hamilton Sea Point. The game started scrappily. However, it was Melrose who scored first with a well-worked move out wide, only to be pinned back by two first half tries from the visitors to trail 5-12 at the interval.
Melrose knew that they had to close the big-hitting Dynamiters down, not easy in 10-a-side rugby. In the end, the game finished 17-12 to Hamilton, a scoreline that could have gone either way – and a defeat that Melrose put right the next day in the main tournament.
Andy Drane, partner of Davidson Chalmers, said: “They may be longer in the tooth, but today’s veterans showed real passion and pride.”
Results 2011: Cup Final: Hamilton (Hammie) Dynamiters 17 Melrose 12. Bowl Final: Tynedale 31 Auld Reekies 7. Plate Final: Morgan Old Blacks 24 Glasgow Legends 12.