BT Cup Final | High flying Melrose seal the double in dominant fashion
Melrose and Stirling County came into the BT Cup final, and the sunshine, at BT Murrayfield, following very different seasons.
The Borderers were defending champions and chasing the double while County were appearing in their first national final after finishing mid-table in the BT Premiership.
Stirling started brightly, however, taking the ball to the line and looking to keep it alive.
But it was Melrose who drew first blood when Ross McCann, who would later be named man of the match, leapt over the line following a well worked line-out on the five-metre line. Craig Jackson’s conversion drifted just wide.
The Caledonia side wasted no time in trying to hit back. They gathered their own restart and spread the ball wide, after a number of quick phases, for Matawalu whose kick went dead to relieve the pressure.
Melrose were cool with ball in hand for much of the first half and it took only a handful of phases for Ross McCann to double his tally by speeding through with Jackson’s second attempt at goal successfully stretching the lead.
What the champions had done quickly, County were content to do more patiently and worked powerfully into Melrose territory, winning a penalty to kick for touch.
Their rolling maul was stopped short by another infringement and they came again, keeping it tight, for Gary Holburn to get the score off the back of the pack with a quarter played.
Things slowed down before the half-hour and the first real piece action for a while saw Iain Moody grab a grubber down the left flank to stretch Melrose’s lead to 14 points with Jackson’s conversion.
Stirling County looked to pressure the leaders as the whistle approached but were repelled by the men in yellow who worked their own way back up the field before losing the ball in contact.
The resulting clearance didn’t find touch and the Borderers were awarded a penalty, dispatched to the corner, to draw things to a close. Their planned attack didn’t work out and an ambitious chip into space bobbled into touch to send them into the changing rooms.
Half Time | Stirling County 5 – 19 Melrose
Once again it was the Caledonia side that came out the blocks faster but were repelled and a chance after fifty minutes to close the gap from the boot fell just short.
Melrose took the reprieve and capitalised on it, surging up the other end of the pitch and putting Ruaridh Knott in to score in the corner to hold a three-score lead.
County needed the next score and we went into the final quarter things began to open up, both sides keeping the ball in play and attempting offloads.
While their success had come primarily in the tight, the open game seemed to suit Stirling better and they gained territory more readily.
However, they couldn’t make the hands stick when it counted and Melrose came up with the ball five metres from their own line. They spread it quickly and Ross McCann sprinted down the wing to secure his hat-trick and make the score-line yet more comfortable.
As the game looked beyond County they seemed to come into their own and their ambition paid off. Craig Robertson got on the end of some great interplay from half-way to cut the gap after Jericevich’s conversion.
But it was too little too late for Stirling and Melrose added more with Ross McCann’s fourth try before George Taylor put the cherry on top a dominant performance.
The result means Melrose seal a first league/cup double since 1997 and a second BT Cup title in two years.