Melrose 20

Stirling County 7

Atholl Innes

at The Greenyards

IT was a strange scenario at The Greenyards on Saturday as two late tries sealed victory for Melrose in a game that had little more than prestige at stake for both clubs.

At one stage, just before kick-off, there was only one supporter on the terracing opposite the main stand – and as the clock ticked down to the match starting only a few more joined him.

It was possibly down to a dreich, damp afternoon and the 12.30 kick off.

On the field, the hosts had already been confirmed as Premiership play-off winners and County were secure and safe from relegation.

But there was a sense of unrealism about a match that was a also seen as a curtain-raiser to the Dublin international.

“It was quite strange,” said Melrose coach Rob Chrystie.

“It was a good thing as we have been a little disjointed over the past few months and we were better for that and coming back.

"Stirling defended very well, got stuck in, and their young players showed a lot there. So all credit to them as well.”

County had battled hard to preserve its Premiership status, and even with several players missing, offered stout resistance to the Premiership leaders.

Chrystie will now prepare his side for the visit to Hawick on Saturday for the final league game that could define the future for the hosts.

“There is the Club International on the Friday night and we will be prepared for a real battle – it is a Premiership game,” he said.

Melrose led only 8-0 at the interval, Fraser Thomson finishing off with a score from Mark McAndrew’s pass and a Craig Jackson penalty.

But there was little quality in the difficult conditions as both sides failed to find any momentum.

County played with more possession after the interval to cut the deficit to one point - Ewan McGarvie scoring from a forwards’ drive and Jonny Hope converting.

The Melrose forwards then took control and their dominance ended in Ally Grieve touching down with 10 minutes left and in the final minutes Iain Moody added the third.

Jason Baggott, who has joined Edinburgh, completing a good day by drop-kicking the conversion.

It was an all-round successful day for Melrose, whose Storm side won the 2nd XV National League for a record third year in a row after Stirling were unable to field a team.

Melrose: F. Thomson; A. Lockington, G. Taylor, C. Jackson, R. McCann; J. Baggott, M. McAndrew; G. Shiells, R. Anderson, N. Beavon, J. Head, A. Runciman, A. Grieve, R. Knott, I. Moody. Replacements: D. Elkington, R. McLeod, A. Welsh, G. Wood, B. Colvine.