After 80 minutes of exhilarating rugby at the Greenyards there was a collective sigh of relief from the home supporters as Melrose produced a late surge to secure their position in next season’s RBS Premiership and to avoid what might have been a difficult play-off against Border rivals Hawick.
In what was a massive endorsement for non-winter rugby, Melrose had to fight back after trailing 10-27 ten minutes into the second half after Aberdeen had hit the hosts with a triple whammy of converted tries in a dominant period of play following the break.
As a result Aberdeen will be annoyed that they gave away such a substantial advantage, ultimately costing the Rubislaw side a place in the British and Irish Cup next season.
Aberdeen’s excellent line-out work, their ability to retain the ball for long periods and their pick and drive game was just about worth a win, but that of course would be to discount what appears to be the innate ability of Melrose to play a sevens-style of rugby game.
Melrose led 10-6 at the break from a converted try by Joe Helps and the centre’s penalty goal to a drop goal for Aberdeen by Rob Aloe and a penalty goal by Graeme Clow.
Then the action started as Aberdeen came out of the traps at the beginning of the second half with more intensity than the Northern Lights. Murray Douglas, taking a pass from fellow lock Stuart Smith, began their try scoring and from the restart Greig Ryan triggered a second touchdown, this time for Scotland under-18 wing Angus Rennie
And when prop Nicki Fraser forced his way over from close range and Clow had added his third conversion it seemed as if this match was all over for Melrose.
But a fightback led by Callum Anderson continued as Richard Ferguson dotted down, before Graham Dodds collected his own chip ahead for his side’s bonus-point try, Helps kicking two conversions.
Melrose tried desperately to score a fifth try but had to be content with a Helps penalty to make safe their tenure in the top flight.