Chalmers' championship

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The Independent Online
Melrose 26 Watsonians 22

Craig Chalmers gave a commanding display at stand-off to help Melrose claim their sixth Championship in eight years and revive hopes of a recall to the Scotland team tomorrow.

It will be astonishing if Chalmers does not take his cap tally past the half-century mark against Ireland on Saturday given his vision and energy, and recent official criticism of his successor, Gregor Townsend. John Rutherford, the former international stand-off, recently suggested the rise of the Watsonian No 10, Duncan Hodge, who has just been drafted into Scotland's squad for the first time, could bring the best out of Chalmers on the domestic scene. So it proved at The Greenyards, with Chalmers handing out a lesson by the way he harnessed a gale after Melrose had turned round trailing by three points.

In addition, he produced a try-saving tackle to deny Watsonians' flanker, Ian Sinclair, and ran through Hodge's challenge for a try himself. Sinclair is one of several exciting prospects in a young Watsonian team; others include the 21-year-old flanker Jamie Mayer, who set up a late try which forced Melrose to endure an agonising final 15 minutes.

Watsonians were, however, unable to prevent Chalmers enjoying better quality posession, partly because their scrum-half, Graeme Burns, struggled on his first senior appearance for four months.

Nevertheless, the outcome hinged on a flash of inspiration from Chalmers who, spotting Rowen Shepherd unmarked infield, placed a cross kick into the full-back's hands for Gary Parker to score the decisive try.

Melrose, meanwhile, may yet come to test themselves on a higher level. The debate over whether clubs or district teams should carry the flag has been re-opened following the decision by the former Scotland captains Jim Aitken, David Sole, Finlay Calder and Gavin Hastings to speak out against the policy.

Melrose: Tries Wright, Chalmers, Stark, Parker. Conversions Parker 3. Watsonians: Try Lee. Conversion Hodge. Penalties Hodge 5.

Melrose: R Shepherd; G Parker, S Nichol, M Moncrieff (D Bain, h-t), D Stark; C Chalmers, B Redpath (capt); M Browne, S Brotherstone, P Wright, R Brown, S Campbell, C Redpath, C Hogg, N Broughton.

Watsonians: D Lee; G Hannah (D Giles, 60), A Garry, J Mayer, J Kerr; D Hodge, G Burns; T Smith, G McKelvie (capt), A Kittle, S Grimes, J White, R Wainwright, C Brown, I Sinclair.

Referee: J Fleming (Boroughmuir).

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