Heriot’s, despite a late show of defiance and a hat-trick of tries by skipper Jack Turley, pictured inset, never looked like doing much to stop them.
The home side, who slipped out of the top four the previous week, did claim a victory of sorts by crossing the Melrose line four times in the second half to earn their own bonus point
“I don’t think we were ever going to win it,” said Heriot’s coach Phil Smith. “Our error count was too high and, while we might get away with it against other teams, against Melrose we couldn’t because they were clinical and they were very good.”
The gap at the top of the table is now 12 points and Melrose coach Rob Chrystie thinks his team needs to learn to get even better and avoid lapses that almost let Heriot’s back into the game in the second half.
“When you give away that many penalties as we did in the second half it gets really difficult,” he said. “You lose all field position and you lose possession and then you have to double up in defensive sets.
“Heriot’s have some quality players, they are well organised and when they come round the corner with some of their big men they can hurt you.”
Heriot’s were briefly ahead with an early Ross Jones penalty before Melrose got into their groove and began to build an unassailable lead. The visitors were patient and persistent, going through the phases, until gaps appeared with 20 minutes played and stand-off Jason Baggott was through one in a flash for the first of seven tries. No 8 Ruaridh Knott found another gap minutes later for the second try.
Heriot’s won a lineout inside the Melrose 22 but made a mess of it, conceding possession to Melrose blindside Neil Irvine-Hess, who scorched up the right wing until brought down in the opposition 22. The ball was recycled quickly and passed to the left side for winger Sam Pequeur to score a third.
Two Craig Jackson penalties either side of the half-time break kept the scoreboard ticking over before full-back Fraser Thomson got the fourth try. Heriot’s finally came good and set up winger Craig Robertson to sidestep the defence and touch down for a first try, but it was immediately answered by Edinburgh pro and Melrose No 8 Ally Miller, who collected the ball in midfield as part of his back-row duties and showed a terrific fleetness of foot to run round flailing defenders and score the fifth.
Then two quickfire tries by Turley encouraged Heriot’s to believe, briefly, in miracles as he dragged his team to within 11 points.
But it was short-lived as a penalty try award stretched Melrose’s lead again and then Thomson put them out of sight with the seventh try.
Heriot’s had the last word with Turley barreling over to complete his hat-trick, but Melrose were already looking ahead to this weekend’s Borders derby against bottom club Hawick down at the Greenyards.