NOTTINGHAM completed back-to-back wins over Melrose in the British & Irish Cup but the Scottish champions offered tough opposition for the English Championship side.
Scorers: Melrose: Tries: Visser(2). Cons: Skeen (2). Pens: Skeen, Helps. Nottingham: Tries: Forsyth, Wilson, Arlidge, Lewington. Cons: Lynn (2), Arlidge Pens, Lynn, Arlidge.
“We expected a hard game and we got it,” said their coach, Ben Johnston.
“Back-to-back matches are never easy and it was tough. But we dug it out in the second half to get the four tries as well as the win.
“This is an important competition for us. As a team, it is good to build momentum. Melrose stuck in today, but fair play to the boys who also stuck in to get the bonus.”
Full back Fraser Thomson, who was yellow-carded in the second half, said: “I think that we played really well to go in 6-3 ahead.
“Then we coughed up a few balls and they capitalised with a couple of tries. When we hold on to the ball, we are as good as any team.”
Melrose assistant coach, John Dalziel, who missed the game due to injury, admitted that it was a match that Melrose could have won.
“A couple of defensive mistakes gave them two easy scores in the second half, but we showed that we could step up as well,” he said.
“Nottingham showed massive respect to us that they picked such a strong team, and it is better for us to gauge ourselves against the best rather than a second string.
“It was a good experience and sometimes you get into the comfort zone in Premiership 1 and the focus now is to try and win all of our games and finish in the top four.”
Melrose turned round 6-3 ahead, two penalties by Andrew Skeen and one by Joe Helps edging out a penalty by Rory Lynn.
Nottingham were denied a try when Rhys Crane went over, but it was disallowed following an incident spotted by the touch judge.
When the home side then lost two tries in the space of 12 minutes by Andrew Forsyth and Brent Wilson, it looked that the game was over.
However, two tries by Sep Visser, albeit the second almost on full time, was a booster despite losing a try to James Arlidge and the second deep into injury time, following strong forward play, to Alexander Lewington.
Melrose: F Thomson; S Visser, B Dick, R Mill, J Helps; A Skeen, B Colvine; N Little, A Walker, G Holborn, J Gray, R Ovens, A Nagle, H Watson, R Miller. Replacements: C Keen, W Mitchell, R Ferguson, P Eccles, S McCormick, H Leonard, L Mallin.
Nottingham: D Jackson; A Lewington, J Cobden, A Forsyth, R Crane; R Lynn, F Barnham; M Parr, S Malton, R Bower, D Montague, N Rouse, T Calladine, B Wilson, A Shaw Replacements: J Stevens, J Harris, J Cain, R Cooper, S Romans, J Arlidge, J Munro.
Referee: K Barry (IRFU).