Craig Chalmers tipped his Melrose club full back Fraser Thomson to Edinburgh Rugby after the champions maintained their unbeaten start to the Premiership with a 46-23 win over Heriot’s at Goldenacre.
Thomson showed pace and a cutting edge when taking two tries from a match in which the scoreline failed to do justice to a brave Heriot’s side which led 23-20 approaching the hour mark. But, appropriately, it was 22-year-old Thomson’s opening touchdown that gave the Borderers a lead they were never to lose and afterwards coach Chalmers, the ex-Scotland and Lions stand-off, said: “Fraser’s a player Edinburgh, or Glasgow, should have gone for.”
On current form Thomson will certainly have a platform on which to further impress, not that Melrose had it all their own way against Heriot’s as Chalmers also acknowledged: “To be fair to Heriot’s they tried to play rugby, throwing the ball about and stretching us at times.
“The scoreline maybe didn’t reflect the effort they put in.
“They did well but they tailed off and I wasn’t worried when we fell behind because our team are fit and I thought Heriot’s would tire because they put such a lot into the first half.”
Two of Melrose’s tries came in the final five minutes with their former Watsonian stand-off Andrew Skeen landing the conversions.
New Heriot’s coach Graham Marshall, the former Scotland back row, had little option but to admit his side had run out of steam but rightly claimed they could take considerable satisfaction from the display he rated “our best of the season and never mind that we have had a couple of wins.”
Said Marshall: “The boys have been beaten but they really enjoyed their performance; they were knackered for the last 15 minutes and struggled to keep the intensity up but we have to for next week against Currie followed by Ayr and Hawks.
“Melrose are the best team in the league but it was disappointing we gave them a couple of soft scores in the first half. The line-out was our Achilles’ heel producing the turning point when we conceded a throw while three points up which they scored from.
“However, they are generally quite young – 20 or 21 – and they just have to start learning. We have to make the top eight and then the pressure is off.”
That Heriot’s were able to live with Melrose for long spells of a match where the lead changed hands three times had much to do with a doughty scrummage – they have scrummaged well all season – and a classy lead from scrum-half Graham Wilson. In finishing with 13 points Wilson scored the first Heriot’s try with a typically sniping run from close range then showed tremendous vision for the second when he slid a grubber kick in behind the Melrose defence and, although the bounce eluded Colin Goudie, there was Max Learmonth to grab the ball one-handed and nip over.
It was a try of genuine class which enabled Heriot’s to pile on 14 points while Melrose flanker Grant Runciman was in the sin-bin.
Alas, for them, Matt Reid picked up a yellow card soon after and his departure marked the beginning of the end for Heriot’s – not that they were looking likely to stay the course anyway.
The intervention of a touch judge saw a Melrose try by Jamie Murray disallowed for obstruction but the inevitable was not long delayed.
Having notched first-half tries by Bruce Colvine from a scrum which followed a fumbled re-start kick and Graeme Dodds the visitors, without every looking totally convincing, dug deep to add to their haul through Thomson (2), Alan Dodds and Peter Eccles who was returning to Goldenacre with his new club.
Heriot’s: Tries – Wilson, Learmonth. Conversions – Wilson (2). Penalties – Wilson (3).
Melrose: Tries – Thomson (2), A Dodds, Colvine, G Dodds, Eccles. Conversions – Skeen (5). Penalties – Skeen (2).
Heriot’s: C Goudie, A Scott, M Nimmo, J Kohn, M Learmonth, C Ferguson, G Wilson (captain), A Dymock, K Bryce, G Cameron, R Wilson, R Martin, M Reid, J Hill, R Cessford. Subs: D Thorburn, JP Ward, J Sheppard, S Hidalgo-Clyne, C Mark.
Melrose: F Thomson, A Dodds, J Murray, C Murray, J Helps, A Skeen, B Colvine, C Keen, R Ferguson, G Holborn, G Elder, R Miller, J Dalziel, G Dodds (captain), G Runciman. Subs: W Mitchell, K Cooney, P Eccles, S McCormick, B Dick.
Referee: Mr A Campbell.