Melrose march on to Scottish Cup Semi Final
Holders Melrose progressed to the Scottish Cup semi-finals on Saturday afternoon after a hard-fought win over Watsonians in the last eight at The Greenyards.
In an 80 minutes of thrills and spills three players were yellow carded while Watsonians led at half-time, but Rob Chrystie’s charges battled back to come out on top 25-8.
Melrose were dealt a blow prior to kick-off with the unavailability of skipper Grant Runciman due to injury, full-back Craig Jackson taking on the captaincy duties.
In the seventh minute a good break from Melrose winger Ross McCann got them up to the Watsonians ‘22’ and they earned a penalty.
Stand-off Jason Baggott kicked to touch to signal their intentions and two minutes later, after a good driving maul, second-row James Head went over for the opening try. Jackson converted and it was 7-0.
In the 15th minute there was a clash in the air between Baggott and Watsonians full-back Josh Rowland.
Both players received treatment and after they were back on their feet the referee yellow carded Melrose duo Angus Runciman and Baggott. The second-row was sin-binned for an alleged punch with the latter off for his involvement in the aerial incident.
Against 13 men Watsonians made their hosts pay, Rowland going over for a try in the 18th minute, but centre Lee Millar missed the conversion.
Watsonians had a lot of possession for the next few minutes, but they could not add to their tally and Melrose were soon back up to full strength.
Baggott was soon off again, this time with injury, to be replaced by Struan Hutchison.
Wtsonians had a good chance in the 34th minute, centre Andrew Chalmers break through and then Rowland putting in a neat kick towards the Melrose line, but the ball went into touch.
Two minutes before the break Watsonians earned a penalty and Millar kicked it to give them an 8-7 lead at the interval.
The hosts got off to a flying start in the second half, charging down a clearance kick by Watsonians scrum-half Ali Harris and Scotland Sevens man McCann pouncing to score. Jackson’s conversion attempt hit the post and it was 12-8.
Two minutes later a Millar penalty hit the upright for Watsonians and this cup tie was very much alive.
Melrose were taking the upper hand though, down to their good play and some poor decisions by Watsonians, and a Jackson penalty on 51 minutes made it 15-8.
That was the way things stayed as the hour mark came and went.
There was then an incident involving a few players as things got a bit feisty and in the 70th minute visiting skipper Craig Borthwick was yellow carded for a high tackle.
From the resultant penalty Craig Jackson made no mistake and, in the final minute, a converted try from Melrose winger Michael Muelace-Julyan sealed things.
Melrose: C Jackson (C); R McCann, P Anderson, G Taylor, M Muelace-Julyan; J Baggott, M McAndrew; G Shiells, R Anderson, C Young, A Runciman, J Head, R Knott, P Eccles, I Moody. Subs: R Ferguson, C Crookshanks, M Wilson, C Wilde, S Hutchison, G Wood, I Sim.
Watsonians: J Rowland; M Bartram, A Chalmers, L Millar, R Steele; E Fox, A Harris; F Hobbis, C Fenton, J Stanley, F Simpson, C Borthwick (C), C McKill, R Graham, M Fedo. Subs: F Renwick, J Gibson, D Ferguson, H Fisher, M Scott, C Bell, P Cunningham.
Scorers: Melrose: Tries: Head (9), McCann (41), Muelace-Julyan (79). Pens: Jackson (51, 70). Cons: Jackson (9, 79). Watsonians: Try: Rowland (18). Pen: Millar (38).
Referee: S Grove-White.
Scottish Cup Quarter Final Results
Melrose RFC 25 - 8 Watsonian FC
Jed-Forest RFC 26 - 52 Heriot's
Hawick 31 - 27 Stirling County
Ayr 36 - 19 Currie Chieftains