Selkirk 10

Melrose 31

Atholl Innes

at Philiphaugh

MELROSE stayed on course to retain the Booker Border League title with victory on Saturday at Philiphaugh in a contest which, despite the result, also kept Selkirk in the hunt.

Victory would have taken Selkirk into the final, but a strong finish by Melrose showed that strength in depth counted as the visitors ran in five tries.

An interception score by Andrew Jardine took the wind out of Selkirk’s sails in the first half, and the Souters, who were also without key players, continued to concede after the break.

Home captain Ewan MacDougall said: “We were still in the game at 19-10 and we had a lot of pressure under their posts in the second half, and if we had scored then, we were in the game.

“But they had some good outside players in the end.”

Andrew Jardine, one of the many young players in the Melrose side, set the tone with an interception try in the first half.

He told us: “Selkirk made it hard for us, and it was a hard-fought game.

“We thought that they would tire at some point,” and so it proved as Craig Fairbairn and Donald Crawford each scored in the final six minutes.

“We scored five tries and that was good. It gives the chance to bring on players and the Storm has done really well.

"For guys like myself, it was a big opportunity and a chance to step up and we came into the game with confidence,” said Jardine.

Selkirk stormed into the lead with a try from James Bett and Henry Bithray converted.

Melrose were forced on to the backfoot until Jardine intercepted a loose pass just inside his own half and raced away for the score which Struan Hutchison converted.

The try gave Melrose impetus, and from a driving maul Richard Ferguson got the touch down and again Hutchison added the goal points.

However, a penalty on half-time from Bithray narrowed the gap to 14-10 at the interval.

In the second half, Melrose began to take control and tries from Iain Sim, Craig Fairbairn and Donald Crawford, one converted by Hutchison, ensured a comfortable success.

Melrose now need to play Gala away and Peebles at home to take the points and book their place in the final against Hawick or Jed-Forest.

Losing both would allow Selkirk to reach final.

Selkirk: H. Bithray; G. Ross, S. Hamilton, C. MacDougall, L. Martin; C. McColm, S. Tough; L. Pettie, J. Bett, B. Riddell, A. Renwick, P. Forrest, S. Nixon, S. McClymont, E. MacDougall. Replacements: C. Higgins, C. Macintosh, A. McColm, H. Borthwick, J. Hendrie.

Melrose: D. Colvine; I. Sim, A. Jardine, C. Jackson, M. Mvelase; S. Hutchison, M. McAndrew; C. Crookshank, R. Ferguson, M. Wilson, T. Brown, P. O’Sullivan, C. Fairbairn, C. Wilde, A. Grieve. Replacements: B. McLean, W. Owen, B. Roden, C. Sheat, D. Crawford, G. McWilliam, P. Anderson.