MELROSE won the annual Waverley Cup with a hard fought victory over Gala at The Greenyards on Boxing Day in front of an estimated 2,000 spectators.

It took until the 39th minute before the first points appeared on the scoreboard.

Melrose centre Roly Brett found second-row Elliot Ruthven, who showed good pace over 30 metres to touchdown over the whitewash.

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Struan Hutchison’s conversion attempt went wide of the target leaving the half time score 5-0 to the hosts.

Six minutes after the restart a try from blindside flanker Craig Fairbairn converted by Hutchison gave the home side a 12-0 advantage.

And that lead was extended in the 65th minute with a Hutchison penalty which was to prove decisive.

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One minute later Melrose were reduced to 14-men following a yellow card shown to Ruairidh Lindsay.

And Gala took advantage of the extra man with a try from replacement Dan Nicholson.

Russell Kerr’s conversion attempt missed the target.

Gala’s Mason Brown was then shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on offence to level up the numbers.

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The last try of the afternoon came in the final minute when Ben Gill touched town but once again Kerr’s conversion attempt went wide.

After the final whistle Melrose captain Hutchison told Borders Rugby TV: “WE really enjoy this fixture. It’s an absolutely brilliant fixture to be involved in.

“And 2,000 people coming here to cheer their team on whether that be Melrose or Gala made the atmosphere fantastic with both sets of fans cheering and jeering the decisions throughout the game.

“And with it being a really close game I think that added to the atmosphere so thank you to everyone that gave up their day to come along.

“Maybe not the most tries but I think it was a good game to be involved in.

“They are always close games in a Borders derby. We play each other a lot and some of these guys we play with at The South and they are good mates. So everyone knows each other."

On the penalty he added: “Bruce Colvine told me that if I kicked the penalty it would make it a three score game so that call came from Bruce.

“So I took the shot on and was very relieved when it landed over which meant they had to score three tries and not just the two."

Gala captain Angus Dun added: “The first half was pretty average from both teams and was probably a bit boring to watch.

“Melrose throughout he game did take their chances a bit better than us and our lineouts failed us today which is normally a big platform for us."