STUART CAMERON reports from The Greenyards
Melrose made it to their first final of the season as they swept Jed-Forest aside at The Greenyards in their final Border League match.
Having won their previous three games with bonus points against Hawick, Langholm and Peebles, a win was what they needed to reach the final – and they did it in style with a team which was missing key players due to the Club International match the night before (involving Scott Wight, John Dalziel and Fraser Thomson) or injuries.
Speaking after the game player/coach Dalziel said: “Getting to the Border League final is something that we set out to do from the end of last season. Getting beat in the final by Selkirk last year was disappointing so getting to the final was something we really wanted to target and I think that showed in our performance today. One of the pleasing factors was that with having some key players out today we could see the quality coming through.”
Jed were expected to put up a good fight, having won their last two games in Premier C, where they currently top the table, but after a good start when they almost took the lead with a Ewan Scott penalty which slipped to the right of the posts, the hosts scored four tries in the space of 14 minutes to wrap up a bonus point in the first 30 minutes of the game.
The way they brushed past the Royal Blues defence will have caused concern for the Jed-Forest coaching staff.
To add insult to injury it was former Jed player Gary Holborn went over for the first touchdown for Melrose, to be followed two minutes later by Callum Anderson who found acres of space out wide. Then powerful No.8 Ross Miller scored two quick tries followed just before half-time by an outrageous score from Chris Hardie, who dived into the base of the goal posts when it seemed easier to cross the try line. The shaken winger got up with a smile, but it must have hurt!
Craig Jackson kicked two of the five conversions in the first period to give Melrose a 29-0 lead at the break, and it was hard to see any way back for the visitors as they faced a huge uphill task after the resumption.
The first quarter of the second half produced no further score as the Riverside outfit tried to stem the flow of points against them, and they certainly tightened up their defence a little, but one always felt there were more tries coming. Another ex-Jed player, Garry Elder, added his name to the scoresheet, along with Bruce Colvine and Richard Higgins who also scored touchdowns – two of them converted – to give the homesters a comfortable passage to the final.
For Jed, there was a battling performance from Darren Gillespie, who continues to impress, and full back Iain Chisholm played well with a safe pair of hands at the back. They were blooding some youngsters who will have learned from this experience. They can go on to top the Premier C table with just a point against Kelso.
Melrose: A. Dodds; C. Anderson, J. Murray, J. Helps, C. Hardie; C. Jackson, S. McCormick; N. Beavon, G. Innes, G Holborn, S. Johnson, H. Mitchell, G. Elder, G. Runciman, R. Miller. Subs: R. Higgins, K. Cooney, R. Ovens, B. Colvine, C. Murray.
Jed-Forest: I. Chisholm; G. Young, R. Hogg, G. Hill, D. Gobby; E. Scott, J. Hogg; C. Hogg, D. Grieve, A. Croitoru, P. Hill, N. Cook, A. Nagle, D. Grieve, D. Gillespie. Subs: S. Raeburn, M. Weekley, G. Taylor, C. Gillon.