Stirling County 19

Melrose 22

David Morrison

at Bridgehaugh

DESPITE playing much of this Premiership clash with only 14 men, Melrose managed to keep their title dreams alive.

James Head was shown a red card in the fourth minute of the second half for being over exuberant with his boot during a ruck.

But Melrose, who had struggled at times to break down a well-organised Stirling defence in the first half, showed enough desire to edge over the finishing line.

It had been a rather dull opening quarter before a flash of yellow for Murdo McAnadrew and the awarding of a penalty try for the hosts brought the game to life.

But even down to 14 men, Rose still clawed back the deficit with a well-worked drive from the line-out.

This time it was Iain Sim who crashed over for the try.

Struan Hutchison, who looks more assured with the kicking tee in each match he plays, slotted the conversion from out wide.

But it was County who were to go back in front just after the hour.

A great burst from Craig Robertson allowed Peter Jerevitch to make good yards before offloading to George Arnott to score.

Andy Goudie slotted the conversion for a 14-7 lead.

Just after the restart Goudie was given ten minutes in the sin bin after a grappling tackle around the neck of Hutchison.

And Melrose took quick advantage of the extra man - after sustained pressure on the County line Patrick Anderson dived over in the corner.

Hutchison's conversion drifted just wide.

The Head red card gave Stirling a boost just after the interval - and Melrose had to defend for their lives.

Several try saving tackles were rewarded with Hutchison slotting a 55th minute penalty to ease the pressure and put Melrose into an unlikely lead.

Melrose produced some of their best rugby either side of the hour to repel the hosts and exert their own pressure on the Stirling line.

County were reduced to 14 men in the 70th minute as Gary Holborn was yellow carded during some desperate defending.

And during the same incident beneath the Stirling posts, play was held up to allow for treatment to Rory Darge.

When play resumed some ten minutes later Melrose secured the win.

Opting to take a five metre scrum instead of a penalty, Ruaridh Knott smashed his way through the defence to score.

Hutchison's conversion gave Melrose the eight point cushion they were looking for.

There was still time for Stirling to grab a late try in injury time with Ratu Tagive showing great speed to go in at the corner.

Melrose: F Thomson, G Wood, P Anderson, C Jackson, I Sim, S Hutchison, M McAndrew, G Shiells, R Ferguson, C Young, J Head, I Moody, N Irvine-Hess, R Darge & G Runciman. Reps: F Scott, C Crookshank, R Knott, M Mvelase-Jolyan & D Colvine.