Watsonians’ recent winning streak came to a halt at the Greenyards but their performance against the reigning champions suggests that the Myresiders could still be in strong contention for a top-four placing.
Ultimately, however, Watsonians could not match the strength and technique of the Melrose front five and, despite trying to thwart the home side’s maul by not engaging, the visitors could not stop two tries from driven lineouts.
Melrose coach Rob Chrystie felt his side got their just deserts. “We probably deserved our victory,” he said. “We were a little more clinical once we got into the zone. I thought our front five did very well today and especially Conor Young.”
Young scored a crucial try for Melrose after Watsonians had had a length-of-the-field “score” chalked off. It occurred after Watsonians had knocked on in the lineout. Advantage was allowed and when Melrose used this unexpected possession to plant a cross-kick, the ball missed its intended target and instead was skilfully taken in full flight by Watsonians’ right wing Andrew Chalmers who ran 80 metres for what seemed a sensational score.
Referee Ian Kenny, however, decided that Melrose had not gained an advantage and ordered a scrum for the original knock-on, from which Young barged over for what proved to be the winning try.
Watsonians coach Steve Lawrie deployed diplomatic skills when he described the decision to call play back after the Chalmers touchline sprint as “interesting” but refused to blame his side’s defeat on this one incident.
Melrose were quickly into their stride, scoring through Russell Anderson from a driven lineout after just four minutes. The visitors, however, replied with a try by their back row Connor Boyle from a charge-down of a Struan Hutchison clearance kick.
A second maul try by Russell Anderson converted by Hutchison gave Melrose a seven-point advantage, only for Watsonians to score the try of the match by 19-year-old second row Harry Fisher after excellent back play from Chalmers and scrum-half Murray Scott.
Then, on the stroke of half time, a Hutchison penalty goal gave the home side a 15-10 lead which was overturned by a try from DJ Innes and the conversion by Lee Millar. But when Patrick Anderson took a return pass from Ian Sim and Hutchison added the extras, it was advantage Melrose.
The Young try and further two points from Hutchison made a Melrose win look more likely but home nerves jangled again when Innes ran in his second try, converted by Millar, to secure a deserved double bonus point.