Melrose 21

Heriot's 26

David Morrison

at The Greenyards

FOR the past few seasons depth in numbers has been pivotal to Melrose's success.

But even the Greenyards machine, which seems to continually bring through exciting youngsters, can begin to creak at times.

On Saturday they were without a large number of regular starters and it showed.

Heriot's were deserving of their dominant lead on the hour after a convincing display of controlled rugby.

And even though the defending champions rallied in typical Melrose fashion it was the team from Goldenacre who held on for the victory.

Melrose coach Rob Chrystie believes his team will improve as they enter the final few weeks of the campaign - when many of his players return.

He said: "At some point we will get everyone back together again and we can really kick on.

"There were quite a few missing today although we won't be using that as an excuse for our defeat.

"Heriot's played well and they got away from us."

Heriot's turned early pressure into a fine opening try through Rob Kay.

Ross Jones slotted the extras before he added a second conversion just a few minutes later after scrum half Alex Ball had found a space to dive through and touch down.

The 0-14 scoreline was a fair reflection on an opening half hour which had seen Melrose struggle to string many phases together.

But the Greenyards side did throw themselves a lifeline just before the interval.

A driving maul, which has been fruitful all season for the defending champions, allowed Ruaridh Knott to barge over the line.

Struan Hutchison made it 7-14 with the conversion to end the half.

But hopes of a change in fortune after the interval quickly evaporated.

No sooner had Fraser Thomson limped off than Heriot's laid siege on the home line.

After several near misses Charlie Simpson collected a pass out wide to round the defence and score.

Heriot's secured the bonus point try just after the hour as Craig Robertson showed a good turn of foot to race in yet again.

The successful conversion gave the visitors a deserved 26 point to seven lead.

On what was a miserable day for the Melrose faithful there was some comfort in the way they fought back in the closing 15 minutes.

Some great interplay between backs and forwards led to Knott going over for his second score.

Craig Jackson's conversion brought the deficit down to 12 points.

And with the full time whistle approaching prolonged pressure led to Murdo McAndrew nipping in to secure the losing bonus point.

Melrose: F Thomson, G Wood, P Anderson, C Jackson, I Sim, S Hutchison, M McAndrew; G Shiells, R Ferguson, C Young, A Runciman, R Knott, N Irvine-Hess, G Runciman & I Moody. Replacements: F Scott, C Crookshanks, A Jardine, D Colvine % M Muelace-Julyan.