It was a case of two out of three ain’t bad for the Godsmark family on Saturday as a couple of brothers ended their finals with winner’s medals around their necks.
There was disappointment for Alex, who was part of the Murrayfield Wanderers side that lost the BT Shield to Carrick but joy for Ryan, who scooped the Belgian Cup with his club La Hulpe. With all due respect to the events that unfolded in Brussels, however, it was Ryan’s twin Nyle, the Scotland Sevens player, who took top honours with the winning try which secured Melrose their third cup success with this 23-18 win over Ayr at BT Murrayfield.
It was only the third time the Greenyards club had got their hands on the trophy since the official national knock-out competition was launched in 1995-96 and was sweet revenge for the heartbreak of seven days previous when they had lost the BT Premiership final on their home ground to the same opponents.
Midway through the second half, Ayr were looking a good bet to go on and secure the double as they led 18-11, dominated possession and appeared to have more zip and penetration to their play.
However, Melrose dug deep and orchestrated a stunning counterpunch which shocked the league champions and then delivered the killer punch with three minutes left when Nyle Godsmark had the easiest of jobs to dot down after a magnificent collective onslaught had rendered the Ayr line defenceless.
“It was great work by the forwards and backs to mix it up, and I was just there on the receiving end to walk it in,” said the 25-year-old outside centre after the game. “I finished it but it was everyone else who did the hard work.”
Melrose already had a penalty advantage coming but went for the jugular and got their reward.
“Usually if there’s a penalty we panic and kick the ball. There we just thought we should keep playing until we ran out of advantage or we scored,” said Godsmark.
The turning point in the game had come some minutes earlier when, with Ayr seemingly winding up for a big finish to complete the job, Melrose’s sub scrum-half Murdo McAndrew claimed possession and sent wing George Taylor in down the right for a simple but sandshifting score.
It had been 8-8 at the break after Danny McCluskey got the first try for Ayr in the first minute before Jamie Bhatti was driven over and Jason Baggott and Frazier Climo exchanged penalties.
Baggott nudged Melrose in front in the second half before Will Bordill, playing his last match for Ayr, finished off a piece of wizardry from scrum-half David Armstrong.
The men from the west were looking good for the win at that stage but Melrose held firm admirably and seized their chances when they came.
“It kind of went back and forward. They got ahead, got a good lead.
“It was partly because of our mistake, but Ayr are good at capitalising and coming away with points,” continued Godsmark.
“We kept our cool and went back to basics and got the try at the end and kept them out. We were quite chuffed that we didn’t let it affect us; we stuck in and came away with the win. We gave away penalties last week and they got their points. Climo won the game for them.
“We tried to cut down the penalties, keep the ball, move them around a bit and be good in contact area, where they disrupted us a lot las week.
“That’s where we struggled so we tightened up a bit. We tried to play a bit more and it worked.”
When it was suggested to Ayr coach Calum Forrester that, while disappointed, he might have chosen the league title over the cup before this two-game series between the two teams started, his face screwed up in turmoil.
That was probably the case but he desperately wanted to repeat the double he achieved with Ayr as on-field skipper four years ago.
Falling short was painful but the focus is now on next season, when Ayr will look to build on the continuity they have enjoyed from last season to this. Bordill and centre Ross Curle won’t be there but Forrester is looking forward to defending that Premiership crown with much the same squad and is looking forward to what promises to be a mouth-watering couple of derbies with newly-promoted Marr.
“Marr have done great things over the last couple of years,” said the Millbrae coach. “They’ve got a group of players that have grown up together and they’ve now reached that top flight. Rugby in the west is going so strong – the top four leagues were won by teams from the west and Dumfries as well this year. It’s great to be in that position. It’s probably kicked off on the back of the success of the Warriors over the last few years. It’s a good place to be, in the west coast at the moment.
“It is two proper derby matches now. Traditionally it’s been Hawks. It’ll be great for the league, for us and Marr. I look forward to those tussles over the coming season.”