Melrose, Kelso and Gala claim three of NL1 top spots after latest victories

The three Borders sides in Tennent’s National League Division 1 are tightening their grip on the top of the table after four weeks’ play, accounting for three of its four top spots.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 5:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 5:37 pm
Kelso's Bruce McNeil, supported by captain Andy Tait, on the ball against Stirling Wolves on Saturday (Photos: Bill McBurnie)

Melrose are in pole position with 20 points from four games after beating Watsonians 80-21 away on Saturday.

Kelso are in second place with 14 points from four games following their 26-18 home victory over Stirling Wolves at the same time.

Gala also won at the weekend, 34-24 away against Heriot’s Blues, and are only one point behind Kelso in fourth place after four games.

Keith Melbourne on the charge for Kelso against Stirling Wolves (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

Melrose’s try-scorers at Myreside were Richard Ferguson with three, Donald Crawford and James Brown with two apiece, Elliot Ruthven, Lewis Mallin, Struan Hutchison, Gavin Wood, Doug Crawford and Will Ferrie.

The Greenyards team’s head coach, Bruce Ruthven, was pleased with that performance but warned his players to expect tougher tests ahead, telling Borders Rugby TV: “The boys played well. Watsonians, to begin with, put up a strong fight against us. We knew coming to Myreside would be tough, but we got better and better as the game went on.

“Going forward, next week at Biggar, that’s a completely different ball game. We’ll have to play a lot better than we did today to be competitive.”

Bruce McNeil and Keith Melbourne both scored tries for Kelso at Poynder Park as they looked to bounce back from the week before’s derby defeat away to Gala, but Dwain Paterson’s boot ended up accounting for the bulk of the hosts’ tally with two conversions, three penalties and a drop goal.

Dwain Patterson on the ball for Kelso against Stirling Wolves (Photo: Bill McBurnie)

“Overall we’re really chuffed with the win,” said Kelso fly-half Murray Hastie.

“It was a scrappy game. We struggled to get our shape a little bit and to get any flow in the game, but that’s four league games and to have come away with three wins so far, we’re chuffed to bits, to be honest.”

Gala’s try-scorers were Jack Easson and Fergus Johnston with two each and Andrew Mitchell, with Craig Dods’ boot supplying the rest of the visitors’ points at Goldenacre.

Melrose and Kelso are both away this Saturday, at Biggar and Ayr respectively, and Gala host Boroughmuir, with all three games kicking off at 3pm.

Kelso full-back Mark Wilson on the run against Stirling (Photo: Bill McBurnie)