Peebles 9 Melrose 12
27 February 2010
Tom Haywood at the Gytes
As the teams ran onto a slice of green among a countryside that looked like an Arctic wilderness, the small crowd applauded these two sides. As the snow stopped and the teams lined up for kick off, the referee blew his whistle, and the two teams launched into the game.
Tweed Homes sponsored Peebles started strongly in this Scottish Hydro Cup and Radio Borders Border League game, and broke into the points within minute of kickoff with a penalty in front of the posts on the Melrose 22, which posed no challenge for the Peebles kicker, Neil Warnock to go 3-0 up. Peebles kept up the attack, not giving Melrose a moment’s respite, and shortly after a cross field kick by Peebles that Melrose caught and ran into touch, they had another three point opportunity. Peebles number 10 Neil Warnock kicked this penalty from the same place as his first penalty kick, and just as easily to go 6 points up. Melrose got their first chance to score a quarter of an hour into this exciting match. Peebles gave away a penalty on their ten metre line, but the kicker Scott Wight had trouble finding the range in the windy conditions and the kick dropped short. Peebles responded quickly, launching a penalty down the touch line into the Melrose 22, and shortly after the Melrose defence cracked and gave Neil Warnock another three points to open the gap to 9-0. It took Melrose another ten minutes before they finally managed to get some points on their side of the board, and it came as the fourth penalty in this game, kicked thought the uprights by Scott Wight from the Peebles 22. Melrose had multiple chances to close the gap, and they seemed to be much stronger than Peebles in the scrum. In the last five minutes on the first half, it seemed as if Melrose would take the lead, after a series of stolen lineout’s and scrums by Melrose put them in the Peebles half for most of the time, but the Peebles defence hold solid, and kept the score 9-3 till the end of the half.
Melrose got off to a winning start, with an early penalty on the Peebles 10 metre line, then a penalty fifteen metres in front of the Peebles posts which they scored easily to close Peebles lead to 3 points. Within minutes, Peebles were back on the defence, and after giving away a penalty on their own 10 metre line, and Scott Wight decided to make the kick, a risky option after a kick from a similar position in the first half dropped short. But this time he managed it, kicking straight through the posts and over the bar, levelling the score much to the delight of the Melrose fans. Melrose had dominated the first five minutes of the second half, but Peebles had a chance to fight back after a high tackle led to a Peebles penalty, but no yellow cards despite the shouts from the Peebles crowd. Peebles used this penalty to clear their lines, and set off on their own attack. Despite sending the ball into the Melrose half, Peebles couldn’t gain any momentum, and where soon forced back into their own half. Melrose had a chance to take the lead with a try in the fifty fifth minute when after a strong attack, a gap opened in the Peebles defence. The ball was chipped through and chased but alas it had been a slightly overpowered kick, and the ball went dead, leaving Peebles with a twenty two metre drop out to clear their lines. After a period of play, with both sides attempting to gain the upper hand which would give them the advantage over their opponent necessary to win, Melrose finally made their move. They kicked to goal from a penalty on the Peebles 10 metre line, and scored the three points to take them into the lead. Peebles made a desperate attempt to level the playing field to take the two sides into extra time or even take the lead and win. But it all came to nothing, and after a final nail biting(for both sides) penalty to Peebles that would’ve extended the game, missed, Melrose won and knocked Peebles out of the Hydro Electric cup in round one.
Peebles put up a good fight against this premier 1 side, but in the end the endurance of Melrose showed allowing them to just win the match by the narrowest of margins. To end on a positive note however, Peebles did manage to get a bonus point in this game which doubled up as a Radio Borders league match.