Melrose are caught cold by intense Heriot’s fightback

Melrose 29

Heriot’s 36

RBS PREMIERSHIP

ATHOLL INNES reports from The Greenyards

THE Scottish champions have not surrendered their crown, despite this defeat at The Greenyards, but Melrose know that they are the target for all their opposition and will need to get their season back on track sooner rather than later.

Melrose were not comfortable, but seemed in control at 22-8, when Fraser Thomson raced away for a try four minutes into the second half, but Heriot’s quickly grasped the mettle and stormed to win with a try in injury time.

“They were a physical side and hungrier than us,” said Melrose coach Craig Chalmers, who has seen his side struggle in their opening three games, despite enjoying two wins.

“It was a wake-up call and we cannot afford any more slips.”

Melrose seemed to have the game won, but as in the match against Dundee last season, they allowed the points to slip from their grasp.

They would have settled for a draw. They did not even get that.

Heriot’s coach Phil Smith, at Goldenacre after a spell at Watsonians, said that Heriot’s would have given up the game – at 8-22 – in the past, but not this time.

Their patience was rewarded with a flurry of tries which proved enough for the Goldenacre side to take the points back to the city. Andrew Skeen twice found space to create tries, including one for himself, Helps got a double, and Thomson and Scott McCormick the others.

But that was not enough for Melrose as Kiwi Jack Thurley, Marc Teague, Fraser Brown, Jason Hill and finally Max Learmonth got Heriot’s scores.

The difference was in the kicking, Wilson landing five and Richard Mill only two.

There remains a lot of hard work to be done if Melrose have aspirations of keeping their title.

Melrose: F. Thomson, G. White, N. McGrath, R. Mill, J. Helps, A. Skeen, B. Colvine; N. Little, W. Mitchell, G. Holborn, R. Ovens, P. Eccles, J. Dalziel, A. Nagle, R. Miller. Subs: R. Ferguson, C. Keen, A. Walker, C. Keen, S. McCormick, J. Murray.