Jed-Forest 17

Melrose 35

Atholl Innes at Riverside Park

IT was never going to be easy for Melrose on Friday night as the Premiership leaders began their defence of the BT Cup with a battling win at Riverside Park to reach the quarter-finals of the competition.

Melrose still managed four tries although bonus points were irrelevant against a Jed side, who are hoping for promotion at the end of the season, and were unbeaten at home this season.

Jed battled hard, and led 7-6 at one time early in the first half with a Darren Gillespie try converted by Ewan Scott.

But the power and experience of Melrose paid off and both sides won praise from coach Rob Chrystie.

“It was a good work-out and I thought that Jed were outstanding,” he said.

“I will be very surprised if they are not promoted this year.

"We have to give them a lot of credit and they put us under a lot of pressure at times.

“They fought hard and play a bit of rugby as well. But some of our young boys were outstanding, like Rory Darge, who came on for the second half. I know some of the players are disappointed that we were inaccurate at times.

“However, we are in the next round and have two weeks before our next league game.”

That, in the end, was the objective of the exercise and there is no doubt that there is no substitute for club rugby than an all-Borders battle.

Jed played with a lot of fight and aggression, as well as determination and guts, but Melrose always had something in reserve when it mattered most.

Melrose led 18-7 at the interval with tries from Grant Shiells and Bruce Colvine - Craig Jackson converting one and kicking two penalties.

Jed were inspired after the break and Melrose could not afford to relax at any time.

Lewis Young touched down before tries by Ruairdh Knott and Jackson, both converted by Jackson, who had earlier kicked his third penalty, made the tie safe.

But Jed had the final say when Callum Young, despite having Elliot Stewart in the sin-bin, broke through from halfway for arguably the best try of the night.

Melrose: F. Thomson; R. McCann, G. Taylor, C. Jackson, S. Pecqueur; J. Baggott, B. Colvine; G. Shiells, R. Anderson, N. Beavon, A. Runciman, R. Knott, N. Irvine-Hess, G. Runciman, I. Moody. Replacements: R. Ferguson, R. McLeod, R. Darge, S. Hutchison, P. Anderson.