Melrose pushed past Heriot’s 29-12 at The Greenyards to sail into the semi-finals of the BT Cup competition.
The home side produced a scintillating second-half performance to overcome the defending BT Cup champions with an expansive style of play, avenging their loss to the capital side in last year’s final at BT Murrayfield.
Melrose will now take on Stirling County in the semi-finals on Saturday 25 March after they toppled Boroughmuir 32-31 with the BT Cup Final to be played on Saturday 22 April at the national stadium.
Heriot’s drew the first blood in this highly anticipated fixture with a series of penalties leading to an opportunity for the forward pack to reveal their intent.
In the sixth minute, the ball came off the top of the line-out and into the hands of flanker Jack McLean who confused the Melrose defence with an effective pass to Michael Liness, enabling the hooker to crash over in the right corner.
From the kick-off, Melrose responded immediately with the forwards making ground inside the 22 before locating centre George Taylor who made an impression on the defence, combining with Nyle Godsmark who came up just short.
The ball was recycled and spun across the line with wing Austin Lockington finding space and racing over in the right corner after eight minutes. Jason Baggot added the extras from a tricky angle to send the hosts into a narrow lead.
Minutes later, the imposing Fraser Thomson went on the break from inside Melrose’s own half, powering past several defender to set up Lockington for a brace in the corner.
The home side continued to dominate possession and it wasn’t long before a line-out deep inside the Heriot’s 22 resulted in the Melrose pack joining forces to rumble towards the line, Taylor moved with them and touched down before Baggott converted.
On the 30-minute mark, Melrose countered once again through the forwards moving the ball along the line and pinpointing Lewis Carmichael who cut free to go under the posts with Baggott sailing the ball between the sticks for the extra points.
Heriot’s looked to trouble the hosts in the final stages of the first-half but were unable to find rhythm in attack as Melrose located a penalty opportunity in front of the posts for Baggott to extend the lead before the interval.
After the break, both sides looked to set the pace and with a Heriot’s rolling maul gaining momentum in the 22, a try looked the obvious result. However, the Melrose defence won back possession to keep the visitors at bay.
The Edinburgh side continued to probe despite a number of errors, Struan Cessford and Callum Marshall combining well for a break up the middle to prove their BT Premiership form.
Melrose’s Carmichael then found space down the right before number 8, Iain Moody, looked to be clear for a charge towards the posts. However, pressure from the visitors disrupted flow and a knock on was awarded.
A yellow card for Cammie MacKay left the hosts down to 14 men for the final ten minutes of play as Heriot’s moved up the pitch with a series of moves from the back-line.
In the 75th minute, Heriot’s took advantage and sent inside centre Junior Rosalea through under the posts before full-back John Semple converted the only try of the half. Melrose remained strong in the closing stages despite a scrappy 40 minute display to book their place in the semi-finals of the BT Cup competition.
Melrose: Fraser Thomson; Austin Lockington, Nyle Godsmark, George Taylor, Sam Pecqueur; Jason Baggott, Murdo McAndrew; Dan Elkington, Russell Anderson, Ruairi McLeod, James Head, Lewis Carmichael, Ruaridh Knott, Grant Runciman CAPTAIN, Iain Moody. Replacements: Cameron McKay, Callum Crookshanks, Aaron Welsh, Ali Grieve, Bruce Colvine, Craig Jackson, Gavin Wood.
Heriot’s: John Semple; Charlie Simpson, Robbie Mulveena, Junior Rosalea, John Rae; Alex Hagart, Tom Wilson; Martin Bouab, Michael Liness, Struan Cessford, Russell Nimmo, Callum Marshall, Michael Maltman, Jack McLean, Struan Dewar. Replacements: Ali Johnstone, Grant Blair, Clarke Smith, Nick Sutherland, Rory Carmichael CAPTAIN, Gavin Parker, Robert Kay.
Referee: Lloyd Linton
Melrose 29-12 Heriot’s
Ayr 36-7 Jed-Forest
Glasgow Hawks 40-12 Gala
Stirling County 32-31 Boroughmuir