Melrose aggression at breakdown is the keys

Clarke Smith, of Heriot's, moves in to tackle Tom Galbraith during Saturday's clash at The Greenyards. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Clarke Smith, of Heriot's, moves in to tackle Tom Galbraith during Saturday's clash at The Greenyards. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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Melrose made physicality in the contact area count to a massive degree in their winning performance against champions Heriot’s, elevating the Greenyards men to second place in the league.

The Borderers were quick to the breakdown and aggressive when they contested for the ball, denying Heriot’s the quick possession that their polished backline needed. Moreover, Melrose were much the more determined in defence in contrast to Heriot’s who missed too many tackles.

Heriot’s, weakened by the loss of No 8 Jason Hill after only ten minutes, were unable to resist against a rampant Melrose side that scored two first-half tries by lock Lewis Carmichael and full-back Fraser Thomson, both from clever approach work.

Minutes later, Thomson was stretchered off after a collision with James Head but his replacement, Joe Helps, proved invaluable, the utility back kicking four penalty goals and converting a spectacular solo try from 60 metres out by flanker Neil Irvine-Hess.

Heriot’s tries were all scored in the second half, the first by centre Max Learmonth, the second by wing Charlie Simpson and a final effort by flanker Struan Dewar, their other points coming from Graham Wilson’s boot.

Melrose looked likely winners after dynamic play early in the match that produced a try for Carmichael. Graham Wilson and Tom Galbraith swapped penalties but a try by Thomson made by Sam Pecqueur put Melrose ten points clear. But again Wilson cut into the lead with his second penalty goal, matched on the stroke of half-time by the first of Helps’ five kicks.

Heriot’s looked sharp in the opening minutes of the second half and were rewarded with a try by Learmonth from a grubber kick by John Semple. But Irvine-Hess then went on a 60-metre run to score under the posts. Helps then added two penalty goals before a defence-splitting run by Cameron Ferguson gave Simpson a try for Heriot’s and Dewar chipped in with an interception try.

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