Actions spoke louder than words for Boroughmuir skipper Andy Rose as he led his Meggetland men to a nerve-jangling 19-18 home win over Melrose in an engrossing encounter played in dreadful conditions.
The Capital side struggled throughout the first half against a well-drilled Melrose team that dominated proceedings yet led only 18-0 at the break after Lewis Carmichael and Fraser Thomson touched down while Joe Helps kicked a conversion plus two penalties.
Shortly after the restart, Muir scrum-half Robbie Smith produced a try-saving tackle on Helps and from that point on the hosts grew in confidence, gradually reeling in the Borderers then snatching the victory with the final action of a game that featured more entertaining rugby than might have been expected given the weather that deteriorated as the match progressed.
The introduction of Mark Hare and Sean Crombie, added to the impetus and the character that has been evident throughout the Muir side, even during the recent run of poor results, did the rest.
Hare sparked the move that produced the opening try for Jordan Edmunds, who then capped a spell of Muir pressure by touching down for a second time with ten minutes left to play. David Reekie’s conversion trimmed the deficit to six points and set up a tense finale.
At that stage, the momentum was firmly with the home team who battered at an unyielding Melrose defence. The desperation in the Borderers’ ranks resulted in props Gary Holborn and Jamie Bhatti being dispatched to the sin bin after illegally thwarting Muir drives for the line.
However, Rose and his colleagues were not to be denied and, with the final play, Karl Furey chose the ideal moment to bag his first try for the club when he applied the final touch after another surge for the line.
That left Reekie with the conversion to clinch the win and, shrugging off the wind, driving rain and the importance of the moment, he steered the ball between the sticks.
Reflecting on the outcome, Rose, who was returning to the Muir side after spending several weeks on international duty with Zimbabwe at the Hong Kong Cup of Nations, said: “We have struggled for the last couple of weeks and we’ve ended up chasing games.
“Having beaten Melrose down there, we knew they were going to come hard at us. Again we started slowly but then we built the phases. We started playing our patterns and we got good go-forward from there. The desire and that belief carried us through.”
Rose echoed the sentiments of Muir coach Bruce Aitchison when he insisted that the team had not been playing badly in recent weeks, despite having suffered seven successive defeats.
“It’s small things, it was just individual errors that were reining us in. There was a good buzz from training on Thursday and we came in and said ‘just go for it’; we had nothing to lose. If we want to get anywhere this season, we are going to have to play for it and the boys did, so hats off to them.”
And, of his own contribution to the success, which Muir must build on over the coming weeks, he stated: “My biggest role as captain is to lead those boys. I’m not really a talker, I’m more a sort of ‘follow me here we go’. To be fair, a lot of other boys stepped up while I was away and helped galvanise that and there was just a belief.”
And attempting to nail down the turning point in a game that was yet another fine advert for club rugby, he said: “I have no idea what it was. It seems to be the trait in our game that we go three scores down then we start playing rugby. That’s not good because, as we have seen with recent results, we have chased it too hard and sort of just slipped at the end. I can’t put it down to any one thing that clicked and changed the momentum. It was maybe the wind, or the bounce of a ball.”
Whatever the catalyst, it was a win that could define Muir’s season.
Boroughmuir: Tries: Edmunds (2), Furey. Cons: Reekie (2).
Melrose: Tries: Carmichael, Thomson. Con: Helps. Pens: Helps (2).
Boroughmuir: R Cairns, E Farquharson, A Cox, D Reekie, J Edmunds, D Steele, R Smith, K Furey, C Davies, R Wilson, S Gibson, F Field, C Keddie, A Rose, C Reid.
Subs: S Crombie, D Robertson, W Kay, S Johnson, M Hare.
Melrose: F Thomson, J Helps, N Godsmark, A Nagel, S Pecqueur, T Galbraith, B Colvine, J Bhatti, R Ferguson, G Holborn, G Dodds, L Carmichael, N Irvine-Hess, G Runciman, A Miller. Subs: C McKay, R Sutherland, J Head, R Taylor, G Taylor.
Referee: G Ormiston.