It was an absolutely thrilling encounter at The Greenyards today between Melrose and Heriot’s in the RBS Cup quarter-finals and with the clock striking 80 minutes there was still a chance for either team to take the victory.
However, it was Heriot’s who progressed into the penultimate round of the competition, following a late penalty kick from scrum-half Graham Wilson, who moved the score from 18-all to 21-18.
Heriot’s head coach, Phil Smith, said: “What a Cup quarter-final. I almost wish this had been the final as Melrose are a quality team.
“We knew going to The Greenyards was going to be a monumental ask, but this team have stepped up to everything we have asked them to do. They want to win and they dig deep to make sure that they do.
When we got the score to 18-11 we were hoping to create some more breathing space, but they came back. It was a difficult pitch to play on but we loved every minute of this match.”
In the first half, the hosts dominated possession and looked slightly more threatening in attack and they went in ahead, 11-5 at the break, following two penalties from centre Joe Helps and a try from winger Allan Dodds. Wilson touched down for the visitors in the first 40 minutes.
Heriot’s lifted their game in the second period and looked a little more on the pace than Melrose, but neither team let up at any point.
First the visitors moved ahead with a try from hooker George Turner that was then backed up with another from second-row Murray Douglas. Melrose then bounced back with a try from back-row Graham Dodds, but then the boot of Wilson decided the difference with only a few minutes left on the clock.
Elsewhere, in the RBS Cup quarter-finals today, Gala beat Stirling County 35-3 at Netherdale and the ties between Ayr and Glasgow Hawks and Edinburgh Accies and Aberdeen Grammar were postponed due to the weather.
Run of play:
For the first part of the game Melrose dominated possession and following a series of attacks they had three opportunities at the posts. Centre Helps converted two of the three attempts on seven and 20 minutes. 6-0
Some 15 minutes later Heriot’s had their first chance at the line and after a prolonged period of pressure a pile of bodies powered over the whitewash. Scrum-half, Wilson emerged the scorer. 6-5
As the end of the half approached the hosts were trying to respond to the visitors' try. First Heriot’s back-row Jason Hill was sent to the bin and then the resulting scrum saw Melrose number 8, Andrew Nagle breakaway and then a wide pass from stand-off Richard Mill found Dodds who ran in in the corner. Helps missed the conversion and the half concluded, 11-5 to the hosts.
Half-time: Melrose 11-5 Heriot’s
It took almost 20 minutes before any points were scored in the second half, with Wilson knocking over a penalty. 11-8
Five minutes later and then Heriot’s struck again. They patiently were working through the phases before creating a two man overlap that saw Turner touchdown in the corner. 11-13
Just past the 70-minute mark and the city side struck again. First a maul moved them from the halfway line to the 22 then Hill broke away before linking up perfectly with Douglas who was in support. Douglas was then left to run in the score. 11-18
Melrose responded quickly by winning an attacking lineout in Heriot’s’ 22. The forwards collected the ball in the air and then drove over the line with a maul, back-row Dodds emerged from the pile of bodies to claim the try. A perfect kick from Helps then left the score all square with five minutes to go. 18-18
Finally, Heriot’s moved back into Melrose territory and a yellow card for try-scorer Dodds, allowed Wilson to kick the final score of the game. 18-21
Full-time: Melrose 18-21 Heriot’s
Melrose team: Austin Lockington; Allan Dodds, Blair Hutchison, Joe Helps, Callum Anderson; Richard Mill, Bruce Colvine (captain); Nicky Little, Todd Pearce, Nick Beavon, James Head, Graham Dodds, Peter Eccles, Grant Runciman and Andrew Nagle.
Replacements: Richard Ferguson, Lewis Niven, Gary Holborn, Lewis Carmichael, Tom Wilson, Ruaridh Knott and Andrew Skeen.
Heriot’s team: Keith Buchan; Harry Boisseau, Cameron Ferguson, Rory Carmichael, Colin Goudie; OJ Brown, Graham Wilson; Nathan Borel, George Turner, Stewart Mustard, Russell Nimmo, Murray Douglas, Jason Hill, Chris Mulligan and Jack Turley (captain).
Replacements: Kevin Bryce, Gavin Cameron, Ken MacKenzie, Scott Burnside, Robbie Tait, Liam Steele and Max Nimmo.
Referee: Andrew McMenemy