2004/2005: Scottish Premiership One



B. Edgar15B. Watson
R. Watson14D. Whiteford
A. Bulloch13J. Murray
R. West12K. Kaufana
I. Kennedy11J. Murphy
M. Dunn10S. Wight
A. Miller9S. Ruthven
D. Jamieson1G. Dodds
D. Malcolm2W. Mitchell
A. Reekie3R. Higgins
A. Williamson4S. Johnson
G. Harkness5S. Aitken
J. Beattie6C. Robson
J. Barclay7J. Murray
J. Mathieson8R. Miller
I. McKinnon16P. Thomson
C. Di Ciacca17G. Thomson
I. Smith18M. Robertson
Di Ciacca, WestTryKaufana, J. Murphy, Whiteford
Edgar (5)PenWight (2)

It was summer rugby at Braidholm on Saturday – sun shining, a dry and dusty pitch, little wind. The only thing missing was heat. On second thoughts maybe this was Scottish summer rugby!

Did it lead to a higher order of skills being displayed? Well it did and it didn’t. Certainly there was no guddling about in mud and the ball was in open play a lot with consequent opportunities to display handling skills and sexy running. By and large both sides did well in these regards with some individuals such as Melrose prop Graeme Dodds really catching the eye.

But you have to know what to do with clean, quick possession. Melrose coach Craig Chalmers summed it up saying: “We fell down in the basic skill of decision making because we lost concentration too easily.”

The result was that despite opening up a 20-6 lead on the twentieth minute mark, Melrose yet again lost away from home. Chalmers commented: “There is a mentality that allows you to win away which you can’t coach. It has to come from within.”

For a side in the drop zone GHA made a confident start and were rewarded with a penalty in just 90 seconds, stroked home by kicking prodigy Barry Edgar. Melrose equalised with a kick from Scott Wight and then a line break by prop Dodds sent Karne Kaufana in for Melrose’s first try. Back came GHA with an Edgar penalty. Melrose in a two-minute purple patch then seemed to have decided the destiny of the match. GHA shot themselves in the foot by failing to throw five metres to a line-out on their own line and the free kick ended with Dave Whiteford scoring on his debut.

Full back Edgar then touched a kick ahead into touch under no pressure and from the position Jarrod Murphy scored with Wight converting. Home coach David Wilson who had sent out the side that had done well against Hawks, immediately put on experience in the form of forwards Ian Smith and Carlo Di Ciacca. Resolve flowed and in five minutes it brought a try under the Melrose posts for Ross West. Edgar converted and kicked a penalty and at 16-20 GHA were back in touch and by the pause were actually ahead.

Scotland under-19 scrum half Ali Miller took a quick penalty to launch an attack which ended with Melrose’s Paul Thomson sin-binned. The penalty line-out was heaved over for Dic Ciacca to score. The second half had fewer points, but was no less entertaining. In the near perfect conditions everyone wanted to run with the ball.

Early in the second half Edgar and Wight exchanged penalties. The home one had followed the first significant driven maul. Melrose liked the idea and then used it to keep GHA on a prolonged back foot enlivened by break-outs from loose Melrose possession. From one of these a further Edgar penalty closed the scoring but not the thrills.

The match ended on a high note when Mark Robertson ran a kick back to the home line and won a penalty – which was then reversed for a piece of pettiness. Chalmers remains upbeat about the future saying: “I do believe we have players here who can get up to challenge and win the title.

Report by Alan Christie

Source: The Borders Telegraph, Wednesday 16th March 2005

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