Rugby Union: Chalmers turns his backs

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Melrose. . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

Edinburgh Academicals. . . . . . . 0

PHILIP MATTHEWS, the former Ireland captain, has retired. Matthews, 32, won the last of his 38 caps against Scotland last season, but then withdrew from the team to play France with ill-health, and was not considered for the summer tour to New Zealand.

DUE TO construction work at The Greenyards, Melrose have, for the past few months until now, been a rugby club with no beer. . . or showers or lighting. Spirit, on the other hand, is unimpaired judging by an intelligent win over an Edinburgh Academicals team widely tipped to succeed them as champions.

'Melrose,' Simon Burns, the Accies captain, said, 'have the knack of playing to their strength down to a fine art. Individually they are not as talented as many other sides. But they know exactly what to do with possession and in Craig Chalmers had a stand-off who was head and shoulders above the rest.'

Though the full-back Craig Redpath had an outstanding first half for Melrose, if the influential Chalmers had been wearing an Accies jersey the scoreline could easily have been reversed.

As it happens, Accies were just about the only club in Britain not linked with the Melrose playmaker and how relieved Melrose must have been to see him re-enlist after a summer of speculation to shepherd a virtual teenage threequarter line.

The youthfulness of the backs was not the prime reason why Chalmers and his half-back partner Bryan Redpath - scorer of an 80th-minute try - kicked so often for a pack who were not only faster but more in tune with law revisions.

On the recent changes, Jim Telfer, the Melrose coach who was formerly in charge of Scotland and the Lions, said: 'There was a feeling they would revolutionise the game in terms of speed. But players can't be expected to do the physical stuff and run around all the time as well. There have got to be times for slowing it down but I'm generally in favour, although it has been disappointing to see some sides so negative in their approach.'

The finger was repeatedly pointed at Accies for infringing on the ground, Dave McIvor especially, and they seemed to have difficulty regenerating second- phase possession. 'We must go away and learn to adapt,' Burns said at the end of a disappointing week for his team.

It should be of help that the now retired prop, David Sole, has already been back at training assisting Duncan Wilson, his successor at loose head in the Accies front row.

Melrose: Try B Redpath; Penalties Chalmers 3.

Melrose: C Redpath; C Joiner, Ross Brown, I Leighton, R Runciman; C Chalmers, B Redpath; M Browne, K Allan, D Lunn, Robbie Brown (capt), E Simpson, A Redpath, G Weir, C Hogg.

Edinburgh Academicals: S Burns (capt); F Swanson, C Simmers, R Shepherd, R Porter; B Hay-Smith, D Patterson; D Wilson, M Scott, R Moffitt, A Adamson, J Richardson, D McIvor, M McVie, D Jackson.

Referee: J Fleming (Boroughmuir).

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