A beautiful late autumn afternoon was the setting for Melrose Rugby’s return to the Greenyards and the chance for spectators to take in 1st XV action on the new pitch, against guests Stirling Wolves.
It took just six minutes for the first points to be laid down, Lewis Mallin bursting the Stirling defence to feed Kieran Clarke, who raced in to the Town Corner, David Colvine converting. Colvine was in the action again soon after, but at the wrong end of the pitch as he was yellow carded. The Wolves took advantage of their extra man, and after a series of penalty scrums in the shadow of the Melrose posts, Number 8 David Montgomery peeled off and barged his way over for a converted try. Melrose then took it to the forwards and on 18 minutes, following a successful lineout from a penalty, Richard Ferguson broke off and touched down in much the same spot as Clarke had. Deputising with the boot, Donald Crawford nailed the tricky conversion facing directly into the low sun.
Just after the first quarter mark, Stirling blew a glorious chance to draw level, Craig Robertson intercepting a Crawford pass and racing clear. However, he elected to pass to James Gibson who had strayed ahead of him, chance gone. The visitors did gain their second try shortly after, when David Montgomery again forced his way over from a lineout in the St. Mary’s Corner. Johnny Hope missed the conversion leaving his side two points adrift. This reversal stung Melrose into immediate action and from the restart won the ball back for Ben McLean to rampage, almost unopposed, between the sticks, Colvine converting.
Half Time: Melrose 21, Stirling Wolves 12
The try bonus point came on the 53rd minute, a body of black and yellow shirts rolling over the line in the St. Mary’s Corner, a thumbs up from John Cox confirming the points were his. David Colvine’s conversion was a success, and he added to his tally soon after with a successful penalty attempt.
Come 4 o’clock, as the sun set, there was a new experience for the Greenyards spectators. Each player cast four shadows as the new set of floodlights took effect.
Stirling Wolves wrapped up the scoring for the day two minutes from the end. As the game broke up, lively scrum half Adam Shaw scampered over in the Town Corner, with Johnny Hope adding the extras. Stirling could have secured try bonus and losing bonus points right at the death, but as they crossed the line in the Policeman’s corner, the ball was lost forward and referee Ruaridh Campbell blew for no side.
Full Time; Melrose 31, Stirling Wolves 19
Melrose Rugby: Kieran Clarke, Lewis Mallan, David Colvine, Darren King, James Brown, Donald Crawford, Douglas Crawford; John Cox, Richard Ferguson (c), Will Owen, Thomas Brown, Gregor Lindsey, Ben McLean, Callum Folan, Grant Runciman.
Replacements: Jake Fairley, Sean Fisher, Jack Dobie, Ethan McVicker, Christiaan Smit
Stirling Wolves: Johnny Hope, Charlie Dineen, Mikey Heron, James Gibson, Brandon Mills, Craig Robertson, Adam Shaw; Fraser Muir, Andrew Orr, Gary Holborn, Stefan Yarrow, Calum MacPherson, Callum Cruickshank, Nik Binning, David Montgomery.
Replacements: Ben Mace, George Breese, Andrew Rutherford, Robbie Wales, Jamie Cruickshank
Referee: Ruaridh Campbell