THERE are competitive games and genuinely competitive games, and there was an intense rivalry at play in Saturday’s Booker Border League clash at the Greenyards.
Scorers: Melrose – Tries: A Dodds, Helps; Pens: Helps (5). Selkirk – Tries: Hendrie, Graur; Pens: McVie (2).
Melrose and Selkirk had taken part in warm-up games but the full-on nature of a Border League match resulted in raised levels of performance that both clubs needed ahead of their respective Premiership and National League games this weekend.
“We wanted a proper competitive game before the start of the Premiership,” said Graham Dodds, leading Melrose in Saturday’s Pool A clash in the absence of the injured Fraser Thomson. “This was a hard game and, frankly, this is the best Selkirk side I’ve seen for a few years.
“I think our defence was outstanding and much of that is down to the input of Ciaran Beattie.”
Melrose needed to defend tenaciously as an inspired Selkirk side turned the screw in the final quarter, only to be limited to a single score by prop Cata Graur from a typically incisive dart by stand-off Gavin Craig.
Selkirk’s other try was a first-half effort that resulted from a charge to the line by skipper Andrew Renwick, with Scott Hendrie supplying the finish.
The Greenyards men, stronger in the set-piece and with good performances behind the scrum from ex-Boroughmuir winger Damien Hoyland, Stellenbosch Academy recruit Austin Lockington at full-back and Andrew Skeen at outside centre, were indebted to the accurate goal-kicking of centre Joe Helps, who succeeded with all five penalty attempts.
Helps added a try from close range, the other Melrose touchdown scored by winger Alan Dodds from a searing break by Lockington, a versatile player who will add flamboyance to the Melrose attack this season.
Melrose: A Lockington; A Dodds, A Skeen, J Helps, D Hoyland; R Mills, B Colvine; N Little, R Ferguson, N Beavon, J Head, R Ovens, P Eccles, G Runciman, G Dodds. Subs: C Mackay, G Holborn, D Crawford, T Wilson.
Selkirk: F Harkness; R Bank, L Kibble, R Nixon, S Hendrie; G Craig, M McVie; G Patterson, J Bett, C Graur, A Renwick, M Kissick, E MacDougall, A Duckett, R Crockett Subs: M Davie, I Walling, C MacDougall, C Marshall, G Turner.
Referee: C Rudkin (Hawick).