BRITISH AND IRISH CUP
PETER SKED reports from Meadow Lane
THEY say in sport that you are only as good as your last game – and Melrose’s astonishing win in the British and Irish Cup will certainly be put into perspective when Hawick come calling this weekend.
This was one of the best results for a Scottish club and has set a new standard as Melrose, with the Bristol game at The Greenyards on February 26 to follow, drive towards the Scottish title.
It was a remarkable result in that the Borderers played 30 minutes with 14 players – and eight minutes with 13 – after referee Rhys Thomas waved yellow cards like confetti. John Dalziel, Graeme Dodds and Wayne Mitchell each saw yellow, but that did not take away from a sterling Melrose performance against all the odds.
“It was a great effort and to play like that at a stadium like Notts County’s ground at Meadow Lane was an amazing achievement. The passion, commitment and the effort was tremendous and our defence was outstanding,” said coach Craig Chalmers.
“Our target was to win three games and while we will not qualify, we were always aware of the intensity of the games against guys who are mostly full-time and train every day. And we want to be up with the best.
“It is a massive step and the intensity that they are playing at is a major factor. Every player here is full-time and doing it day in, day out. If we had the structure to do that, it would be fantastic. But we do not have the time to go into the gym and get that physical conditioning.
“We competed very well, we are learning and we are getting better. Our priority is to try and win the league.”
Melrose were able to match their opponents up front – and to win at Nottingham was no mean achievement. And that was also a lot to do with the kicking of Scott Wight, a true asset to the club, who kicked four penalties and two conversions.
The tries came from Dave McCall – released by Glasgow Warriors – Fraser Thomson, when reduced to 13 players, and Dalziel. And while Melrose led 18-10 at the break, they had to hold on in the final minutes as Nottingham staged a storming finish.
“That was an absolutely fantastic result and performance,” said club president Mike Dalgetty.
Last Saturday was the third time that the clubs had met – Nottingham winning in 1980 and 1982.
Nottingham officials were full of praise for their opponents – Melrose will be more than just about the sevens in the future.
Melrose: F. Thomson; C. Anderson, J. Murray, J, Helps, D. McCall; S. Wight, R. Chrystie; N. Little, W. Mitchell, G. Holborn, G. Elder, R. Miller, J. Dalziel, G. Dodds, D. Crawford. Subs: N. Beavon, G. Innes, H. Mitchell, S. Johnson, S. McCormick, C. Jackson, C. Hardie.