MELROSE eased their play-off fears with a win that did not look possible with 29 minutes left but, like their opponents, missed out on a British and Irish Cup place.
Scorers: Melrose – Tries: Helps, Anderson, Ferguson, G Dodds. Cons: Helps (3). Pens: Helps (2). Aberdeen Grammar – Tries: Douglas, Rennie, Fraser. Cons: Clow (3). Pen: Clow. Drop goal: Aloe
Stirling’s late win at Dundee ended that aspiration. However, Melrose’s incoming coach, John Dalziel, who was playing his last game at The Greenyards after 218 matches, was not too despondent.
“We are not in the British and Irish Cup, but that was not the focus as we wanted to stay away from that play-off place,” he said. “We have not been consistent enough this season and that is our fault, not that of anyone else.
“We were desperate to be in it, but we are not. We have two cup finals to look forward to and I hope we can go out on a high.
“With six games out of the fixtures next season, we will look at fielding some new youngsters.
“The game was always going to be a nail-biter and we switched off at the start of the second half and it almost cost us the match.
“But we have a lot of character and talent in the team. We played a lot of good stuff, but we should never have been in that position.”
Aberdeen were frustrated that they had lost the game after leading 27-10, and believed initially that they were in the British and Irish Cup.
“But we are not in the top four as announced, and it is a double disappointment,” said coach Alex Duncan.
“We were hoping to win and we were so close.
“It was a tremendous game of rugby and all credit to our players, who were outstanding. Their commitment was excellent, the tries that they scored were top class, but Melrose stuck in, took their chances, and we had to live with giving away about 20 penalties. However, we have had a great season.”
Melrose collected a four-try bonus point with scores by Joe Helps, Callum Anderson, against his old club, Richard Ferguson, who replaced Wayne Mitchell, also playing his final game, and Graeme Dodds. Helps kicked three conversions and two penalties.
The win looked to be heading to Rubislaw after Murray Douglas, Angus Rennie and Nicki Fraser scored three times in ten minutes after the interval, but it was not enough. Graeme Clow converted all three to add to his penalty and Rob Aloe dropped a goal.
Melrose: F Thomson; C Anderson, B Dick, J Helps, A Dodds; R Mill, B Colvine; N Little, W Mitchell, G Holborn, R Miller, G Dodds, J Dalziel, G Runciman, A Nagle. Subs: R. Ferguson, R Ovens, S Lowe, S McCormick, A Skeen.
Aberdeen Grammar: S Aitken; C Gordon, W Wardlaw, G Clow, A Rennie; R Aloe, M Ward; M Dixon, S O’Connor, N Fraser, S Smith, M Douglas, S Warnock, G Ryan, T McGinness. Subs: S Bingham, C Turner, C McConnachie, A Hagart, J Lauder.
Referee: D Changleng.