Melrose pass on play-off after late fightback

Melrose v Aberdeen: John Dalziel and Wayne Mitchell played their last games for Melrose on Saturday. Photograph: Douglas Hardie.
Melrose v Aberdeen: John Dalziel and Wayne Mitchell played their last games for Melrose on Saturday. Photograph: Douglas Hardie.
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Melrose 32

Aberdeen Grammar 27

To say things were nervy before, during and towards the end of this match is an understatement, writes Stuart Cameron.

And over at Mayfield Park in Dundee, there was high drama also as the tightest Premiership league ever reached its conclusion.

With just 20 minutes to go at the Greenyards, things weren’t looking good. Melrose trailed 10-27, while Dundee, also trying to avoid the play-off, were in charge against Stirling, leading 30-19.

It looked likely that Melrose would be overtaken by Dundee and that dreaded play-off was looming. But Stirling don’t give up easily and ran in seven tries to beat Dundee 43-40, leaving their hosts to face Hawick to decide who plays in the Premiership next season.

Meanwhile, Melrose, who conceded three converted tries in eight minutes at the start of the second half, scored 22 unanswered points to win the game.

In the end, neither Melrose or Aberdeen did enough to get into the B&I Cup, and it will be Stirling and Edinburgh Accies who represent Scotland, along with Ayr and Gala.

Joe Helps scored all of his club’s 10 points in the first half with a converted try and penalty. Callum Anderson scored on the hour while Richard Ferguson and Graeme Dodds added another one apiece. Helps converted all three and added a penalty.

It was the final home game as players for John Dalziel and Wayne Mitchell, as well as for Craig Chalmers as coach. Mitchell said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the result. The boys were awesome. We’re all pleased that we don’t need to play Hawick to survive in the Premiership.”

Melrose: F. Thomson; C. Anderson, B. Dick, J. Helps, A. Dodds; R. Mill, B. Colvine; N. Little, W. Mitchell, G. Holborn, G. Dodds, R. Miller, J. Dalziel, G. Runciman, A. Nagle. Subs: R. Ferguson, S. Lowe, R. Ovens, S. McCormick, A. Skeen.