Steele unbending

Melrose 21

Dundee HSFP 37


LAING SPEIRS reports from The Greenyards

THERE was enough incentive on both sides to set up a match of total commitment – the problem was that only one of them took up the challenge,

Melrose were looking to strengthen their bid for a place in next year’s British and Irish Cup, while Dundee needed points to ease their relegation fears.

But right from the off it was clear that the Tayside squad were bringing the bigger effort to the game. Melrose put on a display of shadow tackling that made life easier for the visitors, who ran in four tries, building their success on a powerful effort up front.

They also carried a match winner in kicker Jack Steele, who followed up his four successful kicks at Netherdale seven days earlier with another 17 points.

For the Greenyards men who lost a Premiership game at home for the sixth time, it was another example of simple errors proving costly. They couldn’t match Dundee’s speed of transfer, they spent too long on retreat in the scrums and they came up short in the tackling chores.

Callum Anderson had a couple of good runs and Andrew Skeen, coming on late in proceedings, showed he knew where the try line was. But, overall, it was very much a day when Melrose’s appetite for the game was below par.

It was significant that a Dundee second row man should produce the first problems for Melrose, Richie Hawkins racing through an unimpressive defence for a try in five minutes. Steele converted.

Handling on both sides was a bit shaky, but the guests settled down and speedy transfer sent Harry Duthie in for a score, Steele again converting and then adding a penalty.

Melrose were 17 points adrift after 20 minutes, but Fraser Thomson followed through a chip to the corner to get a vital score. Richard Mill added the extras.

Into the second period and the strong Dundee scrum set up the ball for Richie McIver to cross the line far out. Steele, as was now becoming inevitable, added the two points.

Duthie dodged through some weak tackling for his second try, converted again by Steele who added another two penalties, the second after Melrose’s Gary Holborn scored a hard-worked touchdown which Skeen converted.

At 14-37 there was just time for Skeen to score at the posts and add the points.

The Taysiders performed a celebratory dance at the end – they had every reason to do so.

Melrose: F. Thomson; C. Anderson, B. Dick, A. Letham, A. Dodds; R. Mill, B. Colvine; N. Little, R. Ferguson, G. Holborn, G. Dodds, R. Ovens, J. Dalziel, A. Nagle, R. Miller. Subs: W. Mitchell, C. Keen, P. Eccles, S. McCormick, A. Skeen.