Melrose 48, Stirling County 18
Melrose survived a nervous opening 20 minutes, in which they found themselves 11-0 down, and recovered impressively to reach the BT Scottish Cup final for the second year in succession.
The semi-final match was played on Saturday in warm, sunny, still conditions on a first-class Greenyards pitch.
With only two minutes gone, Murdo McAndrew, on his own 22, put in a high box kick with no length on it. Logan Trotter fielded the ball between the Melrose 10 and 22 and, with the exuberance of youth, the Scotland U20 cap raced, unchallenged, down the touchline to score the opening try in the Church Corner.
Ross Thomson later increased the Stirling lead to 11 points by kicking two penalties, in between which Jason Baggott was wide with a long-range penalty effort.
At the end of the first quarter, Fraser Thomson collected the ball in his own half and made a fine break down the far side, off-loading to Grant Runciman who, in turn, passed inside to Sam Pecqueur. He scored a great try to the right of the posts, with Baggott adding the conversion.
On the half-hour, Melrose again broke down the far side, with Fraser Thomson crossing in the Policeman’s Corner for a try which gave Melrose the lead.
With six minutes of the half remaining, Melrose put in a rolling maul with Russell Anderson crossing for a try, which Baggott converted, giving the hosts a 19-11 half-time lead.
Seven minutes into the second half, Melrose won a penalty lineout in St Mary’s Corner and, this time, it was Nick Beavon who drove over for a try converted by Baggott.
On 56 minutes, Stirling put in a series of picks and drives ending with Adam Sinclair crashing over for a try, converted by Ross Thomson.
To keep the scoreboard ticking over Baggott kicked a penalty at 61 minutes and, two minutes later, after a series of plays, Beavon forced his way over for his second try which Baggott duly converted. At 74 & 80 minutes Nyle Godsmark and Ruaridh Knott scored tries with Baggott converting the first, but not the second.
The BT Cup final will be played on Saturday, April 22 at BT Murrayfield between Melrose and Ayr, who beat Glasgow Hawks 28-10 the same day.
Saturday’s game was preceded by the draw for the 2017 Aberdeen Asset Management Melrose Sevens and a lunchtime question and answer session, with ladies’ internationalist Lisa Thomson and Scotland U20 player Ross McCann.
Melrose: Fraser Thomson, Austin Lockington, Nyle Godsmark, George Taylor, Sam Pecqueur, Jason Baggott, Murdo McAndrew, Jamie Bhatti, Russell Anderson, Ruairi McLeod, James Head, Aaron Welsh, Neil Irvine-Hess, Grant Runciman, Ruairdh Knott. Replacements: Cammie MacKay, Dan Elkington, Nick Beavon, Ally Grieve, Bruce Colvine, Craig Jackson, Gavin Wood.