League and Cup double is on as Melrose sweep Watsonians aside

Mike Fedo and  Rory Hutton of Watsonians combine to halt Ross McCann's progress. Picture: Neil Hanna
Mike Fedo and Rory Hutton of Watsonians combine to halt Ross McCann's progress. Picture: Neil Hanna
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Melrose have set themselves up to play for the league and Cup double in the next few weekends as they stamp their authority all over club rugby and the Scottish game.

First comes the play-off final against Ayr for the Premiership title, swiftly followed by the BT Cup final at Murrayfield against Stirling County.

Melrose have swept all before them this season and it would be a brave man who bets against the Borderers making a clean sweep of the prizes.

Coach Rob Chrystie kept it simple after his team toughed it out in the Cup semi-final against the same tenacious Watsonians they had knocked out in the play-off semi the week before.

“Psychologically, after you lose a game, I think it can be easier to be ready for it and say: ‘That’s definitely not happening again’. This game was harder than last week for a number of reasons. The score-line reflects that. We will dust ourselves down. We’ve got a final next week so we will move on and take it from there.”

Watsonians coach Steve Lawrie said Melrose is the kind of club that sets an example of what can be achieved by other clubs if they are ambitious and organised.

“What a job Rob has done at Melrose,” he said. “He has taken them to the next level this year. That is what everyone is aspiring to create and that’s what I want to create for Watsonians. This group will be a lot stronger for two semi finals.”

The score was close, closer than the three other defeats Melrose had inflicted on the Edinburgh side this season, but it was still a fairly comfortable victory for the visitors. Lawrie admitted as much: “They had to have a bad day and we had to have a really good day. It was close. We had our opportunities but we found ourselves wanting at key times.”

One of those key times was the opening exchange when Melrose scored two tries, first by left winger Ross McCann and then by right winger Austin Lockington, and looked as if they might run away with it.

Watsonians woke up to the threat and began to play, scoring through Edinburgh pro Jason Harries to make it 7-14 at half-time when they went into the dressing room with a growing belief they could still turn it round and win.

In the second half, a reversal of fortune looked possible for a while as the two teams slugged it out in the bitter cold until Melrose centre Craig Jackson nudged the scoreboard on with a 25-metre penalty. It was only a ten-point differential but it seemed like a yawning gap as time ran out.

Melrose went down to 14 men when replacement Ali Grieve was sin binned for tackling a man without the ball and Watsonians got a late penalty to close to within a converted try. Not close enough.