Rugby Union: Chalmers responds to pressure

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Heriot's FP. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

Melrose. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37

CRAIG CHALMERS heads for Cardiff with Scotland this week buoyed up by supreme praise for the way he piloted Melrose to a victory which puts them firmly on course for a fourth league title in five years. The stand-off scored a try and made a major contribution to three of his side's four others as Melrose set too fierce a pace for Heriot's FP to match.

Jim Telfer, the Melrose coach and Scotland's new Director of Rugby, mused over why Heriot's had been able to stay in contention for an hour then claimed: 'That is the best I've seen Craig play for the club.'

Serious competition from 20- year-old Gregor Townsend for the Scotland No 10 shirt appears to have brought the best out of 25- year-old Chalmers and Telfer noted: 'There was a time when Craig was the up-and-coming player applying the pressure. Now he's the man feeling the heat and it was very pleasing to see him respond in such a way.'

Chalmers shrugged off such heady praise from Telfer, a man not

renowned for dispensing platitudes lightly, but made it clear he found the atmosphere provided by a near capacity crowd at Goldenacre stimulating. 'We scored early only to keep letting Heriot's into the game through conceding penalties,' Chalmers said. 'But I'd like to play in that sort of match every week.'

Melrose seem to be reserving their best form for away matches but nothing was being left to chance for the visit to the co-leaders. An early morning departure was followed by a work out in an Edinburgh public park. When Melrose reached the ground some of their officials were insisting that the Scottish team - announced yesterday - had already been chosen and that Chalmers was out until injury to Scott Hastings forced his reinstatement.

It is as well for a side now two points clear and who face three sides with relegation worries in their last four matches that nobody told Chalmers. There again this supremely confident performer probably would not have believed them anyway - precisely the sort of attitude that should serve him well when gaining his 35th cap this weekend.

Heriot's FP: Try Gilmour; Conversion Hewitt; Penalties Hewitt 4. Melrose: Tries Parker, Joiner, Chalmers, Hogg, Brotherstone; Conversions Parker 3; Penalties Parker 2.

Heriot's FP: H Murray; H Gilmour, R Adam, A McRobbie, P Hewitt; K Whittaker, (G Lawrie, 40); A Watt, M Livingstone, K Milne, S Paul, P Young, P Meadows, S Elliot, G Simpson, G Dall.

Melrose: C Redpath; C Joiner, R Brown, I Leighton, G Parker; C Chalmers, B Redpath; M Ross, S Brotherstone, R Craig, E Simpson, A Kerr, G Weir, C Hogg.

Referee: J Fleming (Boroughmuir).