FIONA SCOTT reports from Goldenacre
WITH coach Craig Chalmers held up in London it was to former Scotland, Hawick and Melrose back Cammie Murray that the men from the Greenyards turned to for touchline guidance on Saturday.
And whatever game plan he and onfield forwards coach John Dalziel hatched between them, after going 12 points down in the opening 20 minutes, certainly worked as Melrose took control and notched their first victory in four games.
Having watched the previous week’s losing encounter against Gala from the press box at the Greenyards, Murray, who usually coaches Reserve League outfit Melrose Storm, was in a good position to give the players, and the gathered media, the benefit of his wisdom.
He told TheSouthern: “Heriot’s play a totally different way from Gala and it took us a while to acclimatise to that. They like to move the ball and I think we played into their hands a wee bit in the first 20 minutes with loose kicks. Once we started to keep the ball and keep the phases, we started to score and keep possession.
“There are still things we have to work on. We were a bit loose at times, but can defend well in our own 22 when under pressure. If we can move that up the pitch I would be a lot happier.
“One of the key things this week was to get the win and put pressure on the third-placed team, which we did, so I’m quite happy.”
In one of the few club games to survive the weather, it took only two minutes for the home side to score. Mike Penn caught the Melrose defence cold before slipping the ball inside to captain Graham Wilson, who also converted. 10 minutes later, Colin Goudie broke free to run in number two.
Melrose eventually got in gear when Heriot’s went a man down when prop Struan Cessford was sent to the sin bin. In that 10-minute spell, Andrew Nagle crashed over from close range, Joe Helps slotted a long distance penalty and Fraser Thomson ran the length of the pitch to touch down, and suddenly Melrose were a point in front.
Heriot’s came back and pushed hard to get back in front, but some great defence by Melrose kept the score at 13-12 to the visitors at half-time.
Some great work by the Melrose forwards after the restart allowed the ball to be shipped out to Thomson again, who ran in for his second try.
Stalemate ensued for the next 20 minutes with most of the play in the Melrose 22. The Borderers managed to keep their hosts at bay, but as the game moved in to the final quarter, Max Learmonth crossed twice in the space of five minutes to put his team ahead by four points.
The final minutes were all Melrose as they strove to get the win that they more than probably deserved. And they did. Two minutes into injury time, Andrew Skeen was the last line of attack and crossed the line to touch down and convert in the last play of the game.
Melrose: F. Thomson; B. Colvine, J. Murray, J. Helps; S. Chalmers; R. Mill, S. McCormack; N. Little, R. Ferguson, G. Holborn, R. Ovens, R. Miller, J. Dalziel, G. Runciman, A. Nagle. Subs: W. Mitchell, C. Keen, P. Eccles, A. Skeen, L. Mallin.