Rugby Union: Chalmers rides the wind

Melrose 31 Boroughmuir 23
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The Independent Online
Rowen Shepherd claimed a match-winning 26 points, but for his international colleague Craig Chalmers a Scottish Cup final victory over Boroughmuir must also have been deeply and richly satisfying. How the Lions can leave for South Africa without the 28-year-old veteran of 52 Tests must surely have crossed the minds of more than a few of the 23,000 crowd who saw the borderers complete a clean sweep of domestic honours.

The hour mark beckoned when Melrose finally overtook a gallant Boroughmuir side and there was no looking back. For that they had to thank Chalmers' astute use of a strong second-half wind. It was a key factor in Melrose knowing exactly when to open out and when to turn a rapidly tiring Boroughmuir side, whose rhythm was upset by the loss of flanker Ronnie Kirkpatrick with a groin injury.

Boroughmuir had desperately wanted a win to send their 35-year-old international Sean Lineen into retirement and had planned that, in the event of a different finale, he would have stepped forward to collect the trophy.

Lineen was denied that honour, but being a thoroughly selfless type would have enjoyed just as much seeing Ally McLean, a promising winger, add to a burgeoning reputation with two more tries.

Not surprisingly, McLean is already attracting attention from English clubs. If McLean, who has scored 37 tries this season - including two for Scotland Under-21against England - resists the temptation to uproot, then Lineen is looking forward to applying a few coats of polish when he moves into coaching at Boroughmuir next season.

Melrose, too, had come armed with a nostalgia card since their coach, Rob Moffat, is leaving to take charge of the Border Reivers, one of four fully professional district sides whose creation by the Scottish Rugby Union has created much angst in club circles.

The Melrose captain, Bryan Redpath, who saw his side pull away with 19 points in 17 minutes, touched on the upheaval in his moment of victory, saying: "Everything is changing and I don't know how important club rugby will be from now on."

The plan is for players to return to their clubs after the European Cup, but in the longer term an expanded district fixture list is on the cards and for clubs like Melrose the task of unearthing fresh talent to fill the boots of perhaps the great club side in Scottish rugby history is underway.

Melrose: Tries Shepherd 3, Moncrieff; Conversion Shepherd; Penalties Shepherd 3. Boroughmuir: Tries McLean 2, Wyllie; Conversion Aitken. Penalties Aitken 2.

Melrose: R Shepherd; D Stark, S Nichol, Ross Brown, M Moncrieff; C Chalmers, B Redpath (capt); M Browne, S Brotherstone, P Wright, Robbie Brown, S Aitken, M Donnan, C Hogg, N Broughton.

Boroughmuir: C Aitken; A Mclean, D Laird, S Lineen, N Renton; D Wyllie, G Beveridge; S Paris, K Allan (D Cunningham, 66), A Penman, D Burns, G McCallum, A Cadzow, S Reid (capt), R Kirkpatrick (S Wands, 57).

Referee: E Murray (Greenock Wands).