Whatever else Melrose can take from their back-to-back matches with Nottingham in the British and Irish Cup, the Greenyards men have reason to be satisfied with their performance yesterday against the English Championship challengers.
Last weekend Melrose lost 54-24 to Nottingham but the scoreline hid a 19-19 second-half draw. Yesterday Melrose kicked on from that second- half display to take the game to Nottingham and but for a lack of accuracy at crucial moments the Borderers could have achieved a result.
Melrose created more chances than their professional opponents and for that they can take satisfaction. Sep Visser and replacement wing Lewis Mallin each cut through the Nottingham defence only to misdirect potential scoring passes.
Arguably Melrose were undone by a bizarre refereeing decision from Irish official Kieran Barry, who sent Fraser Thomson to the sin-bin for holding on to the ball after the tackle. But the offence occurred just outside the Nottingham 22-metre area and not the other way round.
It cost Melrose ten points and effectively put the game beyond the Greenyards side, who led 6-3 at the break from penalties by Andrew Skeen and Joe Helps to one by Rory Lynn for Nottingham.
Nottingham then used the power of their professional forward pack to score tries by centre Andrew Forsyth and flanker Brent Wilson both converted by Lynn to open up a 17-6 lead. But Melrose replied with a stylish try made by a break on the right flank by Fraser Thomson and deadly finishing from Visser, Skeen’s conversions bringing the score to 13-17.
Then with Thomson off replacement stand-off James Arlidge kicked a penalty before converting his own try. But again Visser and Thomson combined for Visser to grab his second try converted by Skeen. In injury time winger Alexander Lewington touched down to make sure of victory for Notthingham.