Melrose clinched their first piece of silverware of the season on Saturday and will now go through to join Gala in the RBS National Cup quarter-final stages.
The game itself hardly set the heather alight, but for the Greenyards outfit it was very much a case of going out and getting the job done. And that’s exactly what they did, scoring four tries in the first half and leaving their visitors with an uphill struggle.
Speaking after the game, Melrose try scorer Richard Mill said: “We didn’t play at all well today. The truth of the matter was we were scrappy, but they made it scrappy for us.”
Credit to Peebles, however. The visitors came out fighting in the second half and managed to match their hosts try for try in the 40-minute period, with some valiant defending and skilful turnovers giving their supporters something to cheer about.
“Peebles are a good side and they put us under a lot of pressure in the second half,” added Mill. “We have to look forward now though and there are some very exciting times to come for us as a club.”
Peebles captain Dale Clancy commented: “We knew at half-time that the game was getting away from us so we just decided to try and get something out of it. The game opened up a bit more as Melrose were trying to get a few more tries which suited us better.”
It took the hosts only seven minutes to get points on the board. After continuous pressure in the Peebles 22 from the kick-off, Mill collected the ball from a scrum five to run in between the posts. Joe Helps converted.
Play switched to the opposite end for a spell with Melrose racking up the penalty count and the Tweeddale outfit showing eagerness to score tries by sending the resulting kicks to the corner.
Peebles were reduced to 14 men after 25 minutes when prop Andrew Brown was sinbinned for repeated infringements, and Melrose made the extra man count almost immediately with tries from Ruaridh Knott and Joe Helps who also converted the former.
The bonus point was in the bag just before the break when Andrew Nagle crossed the whitewash, Helps converting. Half-time score: Melrose 26 Peebles 0.
With the job more or less done, Melrose took their foot of the gas slightly as the second half got under way, just as Peebles stepped up a gear. A sustained period of pressure from the visitors in the Melrose half resulted in a try for Ross Brown.
Such was the intensity of the Peebles defence, it took Melrose until the closing 10 minutes before they scored again.
This time Andrew Skeen touching down with Mill converting to seal the win.