Melrose 29

Watsonians 24

David Morrison

at The Greenyards

MELROSE were pushed all the way on Saturday by Watsonians - but the defending champions showed the type of resolve that's required to defend their Premiership title.

As in previous weeks it was the pack who pushed the Greenyards side over the finishing line with some telling drives and two successful rolling mauls.

Watsonians had obviously done their home work.

And the non-engagement tactics were both effective for a time and a cause of frustration for the home side.

It all started well enough for Melrose with Russell Anderson scoring after four minutes on the back of a driven line-out.

But a charge down in midfield and a dribble down field by Greg Jackson led to Connon Boyle going over for the visitors.

Although there had been an element of confusion over the non-engagement laws and a few decisions, Melrose opened up a gap once more with Anderson again coming up with the ball on the back of a maul.

But before half time the Edinburgh side showed the type of flair associated with Melrose as they threw the ball with ease.

The eye-catching attack led to Harry Fisher grounding to reduce the deficit to 12-10.

Struan Hutchison bagged a penalty just before the interval to give Melrose a five point cushion.

The defending champions were hauled back yet again at the start of the second half as DJ Innes scored and Lee Millar converted.

It suddenly became a little bit nervy for the home support.

But yet again Melrose showed the character required as Patrick Anderson burst through a gap to score.

Hutchison's conversion took the champions five points clear once more.

Watsonians thought they had replied yet again as Andrew Chalmers collected a Hutchison through kick to run the length of the field - but play was pulled back for an earlier penalty infringement.

From the resultant penalty Melrose went over again through Conor Young.

Hutchison's conversion made it 29-17 with less than ten minutes remaining.

The visitors did score once more through Innes with Millar converting but Melrose had just done enough to earn victory.

Melrose: F Thomson, B Colvine, P Anderson,G Wood, I Sim; S Hutchison, M McAndrew, G Shiells, R Anderson, R McLeod, C Young, A Runciman, I Moody, N Irvine-Hess, G Runciman & I Moody. Subs: R Ferguson, C Wilde, C Jackson, A Jardine & D Colvine.