Melrose ‘game management’ is key as Currie fall just short

Ben Cairns was 'disappointed' with the result after Currie made a flying start. Picture: SNS.
Ben Cairns was 'disappointed' with the result after Currie made a flying start. Picture: SNS.
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Melrose and the Chieftains fought out a high-scoring, high-octane game that flowed from end to end until ultimately settled by the odd point in 63.

The teams, both of whom on form like this seem destined to finish in the top four play-off places, shared ten tries. Seven of them came in a frantic first half as Currie quickly went 14 points up only to be pegged back, overtaken and then restored to the lead before letting it slip away by the smallest of margins in the second half.

“The more the game went on, the more belief we had that we would win it,” said a relieved Melrose coach Rob Chrystie. “It was going to be difficult for our midfield because they had never played together. You can’t replicate playing games in training. I think they asked a lot of questions of Currie in the first half and as the second half went on they grew in confidence and our game management was pretty good.”

Chieftains coach Ben Cairns said: “We got off to a flying start because we kept the ball really well and played at tempo but Melrose were always going to come back at us. In the second half we had three chances when we were within inches 
of their line and could not 
convert them into tries.”

Both teams had to adjust for pre-match injuries, including Melrose putting former Scotland hooker Scott Lawson on the blindside in the back row.

Currie stormed into an early lead with two converted tries inside ten minutes, the first by inside centre and captain Robbie Nelson and the second by Edinburgh professional scrum-half Charlie Shiel.

Melrose stormed straight back with three tries of their own. Stand-off Stuart Hutchison was first in the scoring queue, then Edinburgh pro Jason Baggott ran three quarters the length of the pitch after intercepting the ball before scrum-half Murdo McAndrew put the visitors in the lead.

However, the Chieftains regained the lead before the first half was over with a try double by openside flanker Thomas Gordon and outside centre Joe Reynolds for the bonus point and a half-time margin of nine points.

After the restart Melrose immediately gained their own scoring bonus point with a try by hooker Russell Anderson from a slowly rolling maul.

Baggott then kicked a penalty from in front of the posts to haul his side within a point. It was the only time either team chose to kick for goal rather than go for the sides and the corners to keep play open.

Replacement scrum-half Bruce Colvine chose a perfect angle to take the ball at speed after several phases and crash over for the try that put the Borderers ahead.

Currie responded with their fifth try, Reynolds refusing to give up on a chase into the right-hand corner after a grubber kick and getting the fingertip touch down. It left New 
Zealand born Reynolds and the Chieftains with the conversion for the win but the kick didn’t have the distance and Melrose had the game.