Melrose consolidated their position at the top of the BT Premiership with a win over Watsonians in a high-scoring match that produced a total of 13 tries and three bonus points.
Arguably both teams were not dissatisfied, Melrose taking the winning spoils but Watsonians gaining two bonus points that virtually ensure continued membership in the top tier, while proving to themselves they can front up against the league leaders.
“We’re dangerous and we can cause any side problems when we play well.” said the Watsonians’ head coach Marcus di Rollo, right, adding : “We try to play an open game. I thought today that in the wider channels we were pretty good.’
There were telling contributions from Andrew Chalmers, who impressed at stand-off after taking over in the ten berth from the injured Ewan Scott, and Reiss Cullen, Rory Steele and speedster Scott McKean.
Up front Rory Drummond and Edinburgh professional Viliami Fihaki provided much of the go-forward play, Drummond’s performance suggesting that he will be in the Scotland Club XV.
For their part Melrose, with Edinburgh’s Anton Bresler at lock, were shaken after letting slip a 29-6 lead built up from four touchdowns, by allowing Watsonians to score three unanswered tries.
Melrose, too, played high-pace rugby, but their rhythm was disrupted by four match-ending injuries to key players, most crucially stand-off Craig Jackson, who, until his exit from the field, controlled the game with clever distribution and astute kicking.
The Greenyards men were three points down in as many minutes after Chalmers kicked a penalty goal. But then the blitz started as first Grant Runciman finished off a pacy move in which Ian Moody twice appeared.
Fraser Thomson quickly added to the score sheet with assistance from Ross McCann before Jackson added to his goal kicks with a penalty success, answered by Chalmers. Then from a Taylor break McCann touched down and three minutes later the bonus point was in the bag as Sam Pecqueur showed good footwork to claim the fourth Melrose try .
But rather than crumble in the face of the unstoppable, Watsonians stepped up their game, responding with tries by Fihaki, replacement Steele and centre Scott McLeod, Chalmers converting two of the scores.
A second try for Thomson converted by George Taylor eased Melrose worries, but a second touchdown from Fihaki revitalised Watsonians. Melrose then stretched their lead with tries by Nick Beavon and Peter Eccles but late tries from Cullen and Steele gave Watsonians their second bonus point.