5 of the best: Heriot’s v Melrose

THE BT CUP FINAL is between two teams with some serious history. Heriot’s and Melrose have taken each other on in some epic battles over the years.

Here are five of the best showdowns –

1. HILL TO THE RESCUE

25th April 2015

Goldenacre

Heriot’s 22-20 Melrose

They had finished the regular season ten points ahead of the chasing pack, but this was the first year in which the Premiership had embraced the modern craze for end-of-season play-offs, meaning that Heriot’s would have to win two more games in order to mark their 125th year in real style.

Having squeezed past Currie in their play-off semi-final, they then came up against Melrose in a winner-takes-all contest on a glorious afternoon in the Scottish capital.

The match swung one way then the other. Heriot’s dominated the first half but somehow scored two of their three tries against the run of play after the break. Melrose recovered from a 10-3 deficit after half an hour of play, bossed the second 40 and took a three-point lead just three minutes from time after Andy Nagle’s late try.

That seemed to settle it in the visitors’ favour, but Heriot’s had other ideas. They marched almost the entire length of the field and, true to form, opted to run a penalty on the half-way line which, had the kick gone over, would have claimed a draw and extra time. Eventually number eight Jason Hill burrowed through and struck gold from close range, to clinch the victory, and secure a first title since 2000 for the Goldenacre men.

2. THIRTEEN TRY THRILLER

11th October 2013

The Greenyards

Melrose 44-43 Heriot’s

The hosts seemed to be cruising to a fairly comfortable victory in this league match after their powerful pack and slick backline had combined to build a 44-22 lead going into the final few minutes, but Heriot’s mounted a sensational late rally with three tries in injury time to come within a whisker of securing what the late great Sid Waddell would have described as: The greatest comeback since Lazarus.

3. THE COMEBACK KIDS FALL SHORT

3rd May 2008

Murrayfield

Melrose 31-24 Heriot’s

In reflection, Melrose never really looked like losing this Cup Final after racing into a 28-0 half-time lead thanks to tries from Jordan Macey, David Whiteford, Callum Anderson and Wayne Mitchell, with a young Scott Wight chipping in with four tricky conversions.

However, the way Heriot’s clawed their way back into the contest during the last quarter is a classic example of the never-say-die attitude which has become something of a badge of honour for the club.

Melrose started the second half in pretty positive fashion with Wight belting over a long range penalty to extend their lead to 31-0, but Heriot’s finally managed to get a foothold in the match when Colin Goudie sent Cammy Goodall over just before the hour mark.

Prop Innes Brown then powered over, Oliver Brown got in on the act, and Jim Thompson grabbed a consolation score in injury time to make it 31-24 to the Borders at the final whistle. In the end, the difference between the two teams was the accuracy of Wight’s goal kicking.

4. SAVED BY THE POST

9th May 2009

Murrayfield

Heriot’s 21-19 Melrose

Revenge was sweet for Heriot’s after the previous year’s Cup Final defeat, but it really could have gone either way during a dramatic final four minutes in which the city side seemed to have this game won, lost, then won again – before giving a penalty away on the stroke of full-time. They were left as mere spectators as Scott Wight lined up a 35-yard kick which would snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for the Borderers.

Heartbreakingly for Melrose, and to the unadulterated joy of Heriot’s, Wight’s effort glanced off the post and the dropped a fraction of a centimetre short of the crossbar. As Jamie Syme belted his clearance kick deep into the middle of next week, his team-mates threw themselves into the air in delight.

Heriot’s had looked pretty comfortable going into the final five minutes, then from a seemingly innocuous position close to the halfway line the powerful James Lew went on a sensational rampage, rumbling past five Heriot’s tacklers on his way to the whitewash.

Wight kicked the conversion, and Heriots were suddenly chasing the game. But they rose to the occasion, charging back up field to win a penalty wide on the left and 45 yards out – which Graham Wilson slotted with nerveless composure.

It wasn’t over yet, however, with Melrose having one more tilt at glory – and coming within the width of a post of grabbing the glory.

5. ONE FOR THE ANORAKS!

25th March 1995

The Greenyards

Melrose 26-28 Heriot’s

Heriot’s are the only club in Scotland to have never dropped out of the top flight, but they have come perilously close on a few occasions – not least during the 1994-95 season, when they ended up needing a win against Melrose at the Greenyards in the last game of the season to avoid the drop.

It was described by John Foster, their coach at that time, as: The most important game in the club’s history.

The home team was packed full of household names, and had won the championship in each of the previous three seasons, but they had been out of sorts this year and also faced the threat of going down if they were to lose this game and results elsewhere conspired against them. They were missing their captain, Craig Chalmers, who was at the Hong Kong Sevens.

It was looking grim for Heriot’s when they trailed 18-7 at half-time, but they fought back magnificently – with their dominant scrum creating two tries for the visitors – to get their noses in front, before surviving a brutal Melrose bombardment during the final few minutes.

The teams that day were –

Melrose: I S Leighton; G A Parker, R N C Brown, A G Shiel, C A Joiner; D C Bain, B W Redpath; R E Craig, S Scott, D Lunn, R R Brown, E M Simpson, S Inglis, G W Weir, S A Aitken.

Heriot’s FP: H A Murray; I C Glasgow, A R McRobbie, G Lawrie, P W Hewitt; C Aitken, A Watt; J Bryce, K S Milne, S N Paul, A E D Macdonald, C Humphreys, S Elliot, G A R Simpson, G F Dall.

Referee:  C B Muir (Langholm)

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 1143 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.