Melrose win ‘down to the wire’ Club Championship

Melrose 26 Currie 10


MELROSE had an excruciating four minute wait today until they could celebrate winning the 2013/14 Scottish Club Rugby Championship despite a relatively comfortable victory over Currie.

John Dalziel’s men stood in a huddle while the closing minutes of the Gala v Ayr match were aired over the Greenyards tannoy system. The celebrations weren’t long in coming however as the whistle blew at Netherdale straight after David O’Hagen successfully converted a last gasp try from Gala legend Opeta Palepoi to bring the scores to 33-34.

As well as paying tribute to his own team’s efforts throughout the campaign coach Dalziel also stated after the game that he felt for George Graham and his men who came so close to winning the title.

“The shoe could have so easily been on the other foot,” he told TheSouthern.

“And if Gala had won today then it would have been deservedly so.

“However we went out focussed and did exactly what we had to do and I can’t praise our lads enough for the effort they have put in throughout the season. They too deserve that trophy.”

Despite winning by a sizeable margin Melrose didn’t have it all their own way as Currie looked to do some party spoiling of their own and the match itself was a somewhat stuffy affair.

Joe Helps and George Horne swapped penalties in the opening stages but neither seemed able to make the vital breakthrough. Breaks by Austin Lockington, Graeme Dodds and Lewis Carmichael took Melrose down close to the Currie line but the visiting defence proved hard to penetrate and the chances were lost.

As the game approached the half hour mark Melrose edged ahead through a Helps penalty before Currie took a turn at piling on the pressure. Melrose Held firm however and cleared the danger.

Into injury time and Melrose turned up the tempo desperate to go into the break with a healthy lead. And they did just that when Bruce Colvine nipped in near the post for helps to convert to gain his side a 16-3 half-time advantage.

Another lengthy spell of stalemate after the restart ended with the yellow carding of Currie’s Mike Vernal and with news filtering through from Netherdale that Gala were trailing 28-12 Melrose took the initiative once more and Helps kicked his fourth penalty of the game.

A scrum just inside the Melrose half provided the basis for the next try as Damien Hoyland was fed the ball and danced his way all the way to the Currie line to touch down. Joe Helps converted.

Now 23 points ahead all looked good for the hosts and despite a late touch down by Currie’s John Cox, converted by Horne, Melrose achieved the win they so desperately wanted.

All that was left to do was wait.....

Melrose: Austin Lockington; Damien Hoyland, Bruce Dick, Joe Helps, Callum Anderson; Richard Mill, Bruce Colvine; Nicky Little, Todd Pearce, Gary Holborn, James Head, Lewis Carmichael, Peter Eccles, Grant Runciman, Graeme Dodds. Subs: Richard Ferguson, Lewis Niven, Ruairdh Knott, Andrew Skeen, Allan Dodds.