MELROSE players geared themselves for the Scottish Premiership run-in and a place in the British and Irish Cup next season with an inspiring performance on Saturday at The Greenyards to score a double over their English Championship opponents.
Scorers: Melrose: Tries: Anderson, Murray. Con: Skeen. Pens: Helps (2), Skeen. Doncaster Knights: Tries, McGovern, Francis, Flockhart. Con: Lennard.
The Scottish champions were boosted by the return of the Dodds brothers, Graeme and Allan, who have missed this season with groin problems, and also the return of Callum Anderson, from Aberdeen Grammar School FP, after taking up an appointment at Earlston High School.
However, the game would not have gone ahead without a raft of around 50 volunteers, who answered a call to help and clear the pitch of snow. “It was a great effort,” said one spokesman.
On the field, Anderson, who had been away from Melrose for 18 months, stole the show, scoring one try and laying on the other for Jamie Murray, and while Doncaster won the try count 3-2, Melrose showed their best form of the season, at the right time, to not only win, but thank the volunteers for their magnificent efforts.
Anderson was delighted to be back in a Melrose jersey. “We showed determination and fight to get that win,” he said. “It was great to be back here for it is such a nice pitch. It’s a real community club and it’s absolutely brilliant to be back.
“I was delighted to be involved in the tries. I am not usually renowned for my kicking, but it came off well today. It is good to be back as I was driving each Wednesday from Aberdeen to Edinburgh for sevens training and this job [design technology teacher] at Earlston came up.”
For Doncaster, it was another long trip home after the players tripped off the field in major disappointment to face coach Clive Griffiths. The first half was fairly equal as Melrose turned round 6-5 ahead thanks to penalties by Andrew Skeen and Joe Helps to a driven-over try by Brian McGovern.
The game livened up after the break as Anderson broke twice down the right, first to score himself and then pass the ball inside to Murray for a score.
Tomas Francis and Douglas Flockhart replied with tries for Doncaster while Skeen and Lennard converted one apiece and Skeen added his own second penalty. Anderson will now face his former club, Aberdeen, this Saturday at The Greenyards as the race for a British & Irish Cup place next season starts in earnest.
Melrose: F Thomson; C Anderson, B Dick, J Helps, A Dodds; A Skeen, S McCormick; S Lowe, A Walker, G Holborn, G Dodds, P Eccles, A Nagle, G Runciman, R Miller. Replacements: R Ferguson, N Little, C Wilde, R Ovens, B Colvine, R Mill, J Murray.
Doncaster Knights: M Keating; D Flockhart, J Tincknell, T Luke, T Lewis; J Lennard, J Bedford; B McGovern, J Bergmanas, T Francis, D Parson, R Cadman, A Boyde, A Kettle, S Pailor. Replacements: A Thomson, J Cronin, M Challinor, C Planchant, C Hallam, C Baird, D Bradford.
Referee: S Lees (RFU)