Stirling County 22 - 24 Melrose: Melrose kept at top

Joe Helps. Picture: Robert Perry
Joe Helps. Picture: Robert Perry
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MELROSE continued their fine start to the season with a stuttering performance that saw a splendid fightback secure the win that keeps them top of the RBS Premiership, writes Martin Laing at Bridgehaugh.

The victory was built on the foundation of an ideal start as they found themselves ahead within a minute of kick-off when Callum Anderson crossed in the corner after a slick break, Joe Helps, pictured, adding the extras with a fine kick from a tight angle.

Helps missed a penalty five minutes later as the Borderers suggested the afternoon might be wearying for County but the home side struck back with an unconverted touchdown for Rory Hughes in the left corner.

County, with their tails well and truly up, then forged ahead when they deservedly took the lead when Hughes again touched down, the usually reliable Brian Archibald again missing.

The second period began much as the first had, with Melrose battering at their hosts, though this time they could not convert pressure into points and, in fact, it was Stirling who burst upfield for AJ McFarlane to notch a try.

Melrose were belatedly stung into action and found some fire as they chased the game but they lacked composure when in striking distance and were duly punished when, with 18 minutes remaining, sustained County pressure saw Colin Hutton bulldoze his way over to secure a bonus point, with Archibald finally finding the target.

Melrose, though, are resilient and hit back immediately when Damien Hoyland sprinted clear to score, Helps hitting the post with the resultant kick and Runciman’s drive close to full time, converted by Helps, set up a thrilling climax.

Then, ten minutes into injury time, their determination paid dividends when Helps went over for the win.