Accies were in the game for the first 50 minutes but then, as their coach Simon Cross put it, “imploded”. He added: “The second-half display was unacceptable. Guys were doing crazy things at key times”.
For their part, Melrose were forced to mount a late challenge after trailing 12-8 going into the final quarter after being subdued by the sheer ferocity of the home side’s pack. But as the game moved into the later stages, Melrose looked fitter, more mentally alert and more skilful as they stepped up the pace to score two tries in the space of six minutes that turned the match.
Outstanding was flanker Grant Runciman and stand-off Andrew Skeen, Runciman putting in a high number of crucial tackles that stopped the momentum of Accies’ attack. In the home side, Jamie Farndale, the top scorer in this year’s IRB Junior World Championship, gave further notice of his huge talent going forward.
Melrose struck first with a try by centre Nick McGrath from Skeen’s subtle cross-kick and Joe Helps’ skilful catch. But minutes later Accies lock Greg Campbell, taking an inside pass from Ruairidh Bonner, thundered over for a try converted by Bonner.
A Skeen penalty restored Melrose’s lead before replacement scrum-half Mike Campbell finished off a slicing run from Farndale with his side’s second try, this time unconverted.
Melrose re-took the lead with a try from Runciman, the flanker bouncing off two tackles before touching down. Skeen converted then added the extra points to a typical score from Fraser Thomson, the full-back roaring through midfield after a clever cut-out pass, before racing to the line for a try under the posts.