Rugby Union: Lapses leave Melrose champions: Bill Leith on the denouement of the Scottish championship

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The Independent Online
GALA are counting the cost of a surprising defeat at relegation- threatened Dundee High which helped hand the McEwan's Scottish Championship to Melrose on a plate.

Had Gala won they could have looked forward to a bumper crowd attending their remaining match against the newly crowned champions. Instead of being the focal point of the Leith season in all probability now the fixture, scheduled for 13 March, will be watched by a few hundred partisan supporters.

The Melrose players were back in their dressing-room after a 16-7 home win over Currie when word filtered through that results elsewhere had gone in their favour.

Their top points-scorer Gary Parker, who has signed a registration form with Bristol for next season, said: 'It was not the climax to the season we had anticipated. League titles should be won out on the pitch with the referee's final whistle signalling a celebration.

'Instead we went back outside for a photograph watched only by our groundsman, who was gathering in the corner flags.'

The Scottish Rugby Union was so caught out not only by the Gala defeat but by Edinburgh Accies dropping the point in a 6-6 draw against struggling Selkirk which put them out of the hunt that a trophy presentation to Melrose will have to take place at a later date.

Selkirk have now climbed out of the relegation zone and were unfortunate not to have taken both points from a strangely lethargic Edinburgh Accies.

An inspiration to Selkirk was the No 8 Graham Marshall who has only just returned from a knee injury sustained one week before his Five Nations' Championship debut against England last year.

Marshall's performance overshadowed that of another come- back man, Rob Wainwright, the ex- Scotland No 8 who has been absent for four months following surgery on an Achilles tendon.

Edinburgh Academicals: Drop goal Hay-Smith; Penalty Shepherd. Selkirk: Penalties Brett 2.

Edinburgh Academicals: S Burns; R Porter, R Shepherd, C Simmers, F Swanson; B Hay-Smith, I McLean; D Wilson, M Scott, R Moffitt, A Adamson, M McVie, D Jackson, R Wainwright, D McIvor.

Selkirk: D Hunter; M Jaffrey, S Nichol, J Brett, K Johnston; R Pow, A Lindores; S McColm, D Graham, C Guntley (I Jeffrey, 27), I Middleton, K McConnell, P Minto, G Marshall, W Gentleman.

Referee: L Crerar (Glasgow High/Kelvinside).