Stirling County claim BT Charity Shield victory in thrilling curtain-raiser

Stirling County embark on the new 2018/19 season with an impressive win as the visitors fought off a late comeback from Melrose to record a hard-earned victory at The Greenyards (26-28).

The visitors exacted revenge for the 45-12 defeat they suffered against their opponents in the BT Cup Final during Silver Saturday.

It didn’t take long for County to initiate the scoring as the side were quick off the mark and enjoyed the bulk of the early possession, with skipper Jonny Hope adding the first points on the scoreboard following a penalty (0-3).

The Borders outfit rallied following a number of phases and hard carries from the pack as Patrick Anderson cantered down the pitch to score, with Craig Jackson capping it off with a successful conversion (7-3).

Melrose went on the offensive in the 28th minute, however, their charging attack was brought to a halt as a brilliant try-saving tackle from Stirling County prevented Lindokuhle Mvelase-Julyan from crossing over the whitewash.

The tables were turned once again when Craig Robertson picked a brilliant line to cruise through the passive defence before he floated the ball to scrum-half Peter Jerecivich who scampered over the line, with Hope duly converting (7-10).

Stirling County opened up a substantial gap in the scoreline when Alasdair Mackie powered over the line to score, with another successful conversion by Hope (7-17)

As the first-half drew to a close, County strengthened their position in the game going into the break as they were awarded another penalty to which Hope slotted through the uprights (7-20).

HALF-TIME: Melrose 7 – 20 Stirling County

The visitors carried their momentum into the second half, as Charlie Dineen slipped down the left wing to score in the corner, however Hope was unable to hit the target with the tricky conversion (7-25).

A momentary lack of concentration from Stirling County allowed Murdo McAndrew to saunter his way over the line, with Jackson converting to narrow the gap on the scoresheet (14-25).

Following another series of sustained pressure, the ball found Melrose full-back Fraser Thomson who squeezed into the corner to score (19-25).

Thomson ignited the attack for his side’s next try as he broke up the touchline before offloading to David Colvine who whipped the ball back to Thomson to score his second to rein the visitors back into contention (26-25).

The late comeback from Melrose was not enough to diminish County’s fighting spirit as the side launched a last gasp attempt which resulted in a penalty in front of the posts, which Hope slotted through with ease to secure the BT Charity Shield (26-28).

FULL-TIME: Melrose 26 – 28 Stirling County

Man of the match: Alasdair Mackie (Stirling County)

Referee: Sam Grove-White

Melrose: Fraser Thomson; Gavin Wood, Patrick Anderson, Thomas Klein, Michael Muelace-Julyan; Craig Jackson, Murdo McAndrew; Grant Shiells, Russell Ferguson, Ruairi McLeod, Aaron Welsh, Angus Runciman, Ruaridh Knott, Rory Darge, Grant Runciman CAPTAIN

Replacements: Ben McLean, Calum Crookshank, Callum Wilde, Struan Hutchinson, David Colvine

Stirling County: Jonny Hope CAPTAIN; Matt Lamb, Craig Robertson, Grant Hughes, Charlie Dineen; Andrew Goudie, Peter Jerecivich; Remy Chies, Reyner Kennedy, Murphy Walker, James Pow, Stef Yarrow, Hamilton Burr, Shaun McDonald, Alasdair Mackie

Replacements: Blair Gilchrist, Gary Holborn, Cameron Henderson, George Arnott, Callum Jardine