Having secured their place in the BT Cup final last weekend Melrose realised a further ambition by booking their slot in the Premiership showdown a week on Saturday with victory in the play-off semi-final against Currie. Both matches will be against Ayr but for the Premiership final Melrose will have home advantage at the Greenyards, the stage for this Saturday’s world famous sevens event.
There was little sevens-style rugby in evidence yesterday as Melrose won convincingly with a display of forward power, suffocating the life out of a Currie side that came into the match ring rusty.
“We just haven’t had the ideal prep,” said Ben Cairns, the Currie coach. “Since Christmas we’ve had three-week breaks between games. The scoreline does not represent us. We’re much better than that.”
Cairns, however, conceded that the Melrose power-play up front was telling. “You don’t win games of rugby by being shunted back in the scrums. Our lineout didn’t function well either,” he added.
So strong was the Melrose scrum that the Borderers won five penalty scrums in the match. Moreover, Melrose appeared to have learned from mistakes against Stirling a week earlier. “We worked hard on certain areas after our game against Stirling,” said the Melrose coach Rob Chrystie.
Sadly for Currie, their talented backs, who included Glasgow Warriors’ centre, Ratu Tagive, had little possession in the first half to show their talents and it was not until the third quarter that they were able to attack the Melrose defence.
Currie’s chances of an upset looked good in the opening minutes when a penalty goal by Jamie Forbes gave the visitors an initial lead. Predictably it did not last long. After winning a scrum penalty Melrose kicked to the corner, drove the ensuing lineout and scored from the unstoppable maul, second row Ruairdh Knott credited with the touchdown.
Minutes later centre Nyle Godsmark showed his sevens pedigree by ghosting through the Currie defence for his side’s second touchdown after Melrose had made ground from a driven lineout, Jason Baggot adding the extras. Baggot then converted a second try by Godsmark from a break by fellow centre George Taylor before putting over a penalty goal for a 22-3 interval lead. Early in the second half an individual try by Austin Lockington and the conversion by Baggot wrapped up the game for Melrose. Currie, however, still had fight in them, demonstrated by a close-range try from Ross Weston and then a delightful score by Robbie Nelson both converted by Forbes.
But two Baggot penalties and the stand-off’s conversion of a try by replacement Ally Grieve spun the scoreboard leaving Melrose in a strong mental state ahead of their two finals.