Melrose go into this weekend’s Premiership clash with Aberdeen in winning form, though they left it desperately late to beat Stirling County.
That victory, which was only secured after a Joe Helps try 12 minutes into injury time at the end of the game, keeps Melrose top of the league, but head coach John Dalziel admitted that at one point he thought they were going to lose.
“I thought Stirling had done it and won the game,” he admitted, referring to seeing his side 22-7 down with 17 minutes left. “I thought it was a bit too much to claw back and we were playing to try to salvage a losing bonus point.
“Stirling approached the game well – they realised they didn’t have anything to lose and really challenged us at the breakdown. They really are a stuffy side.
“We got the score early doors and thought maybe this would be a comfortable day, but it never is at Bridgehaugh.
“We tried to use the bench to mix things up and we got a really good response with a really good effort from the replacements.”
Dalziel was full of admiration for his players’ determination. “We kept having a go and that tells me a lot about the character of the side. These guys have learned to never give up.”
Melrose took an early lead when Callum Anderson scored after just one minute, Helps converting.
Thereafter, it was Stirling in command for long periods. Rory Hughes notched an unconverted touchdown and they went in front when the same player grabbed his second try. Shortly after the restart, A. J. McFarlane stretched the advantage, and then prop Colin Hutton barged over for a bonus-point score that Brian Archibald goaled to give the Bridgehaugh men what looked an unassailable lead.
But Damian Hoyland hit back for ’Rose and then, with 80 minutes on the clock, Grant Runciman also scored, Helps adding the extras.
It still looked as if it would be County’s day, but referee Cammy Rudkin allowed no fewer than 12 minutes of injury time, which culminated in Helps sneaking in for a last-gasp try and the win.
Melrose: A. Lockington; D. Hoyland, B. Hutchison, J. Helps, C. Anderson; R. Mill, B. Colvine; N. Little, T. Pierce, N. Beavon, R. Ovens, R. Millar, P. Eccles, G. Dodds, G. Runciman. Subs: R. Ferguson, G. Holborn, S. Johnson, D. Crawford, A. Skeen.
z Go to www.thesouthernreporter.co.uk/ for a video interview with John Dalziel.