Rugby Union: Parker the pick to face New Zealand

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The Independent Online
Stewart's / Melville FP. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

Melrose. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

AS THE whistle sounded on Melrose's lacklustre win, Gary Parker sighed with relief unscathed and then began preparing to launch himself into rugby history later this week. How many New Zealand football internationals get the opportunity to help shoot down the All Blacks in a meaningful rugby match?

Irrespective of what lies ahead for Parker as a player, he could have an outstanding future as a subject for sports-quiz questions. Selected once by the All Whites during a six-year football sojourn with Napier City, Parker is back home indulging his first love. He is due to turn out for the South of Scotland against the tourists on Wednesday, followed by another appearance for Scotland A on Saturday.

'To play against the All Blacks will be the pinnacle of my sporting career,' Parker said. 'Being chosen but first having to get through the match with Stewart's / Melville, though, was like getting a big cheque in the post then waiting for the bank to clear it.'

Such anxieties were reflected in some uncharacterstically wayward goal-kicking by Scotland's top points-scorer, who will be glad to return to the wing after standing in at scrum-half for Bryan Redpath, who was resting an arm injury.

Redpath's absence partially explained Melrose's indifferent display, with Parker unable to make those telling, short-range thrusts to ignite the forward drives that are a hallmark of the champions.

Stewart's / Melville's adventurous back play might have created an upset had the pack sagged badly during the middle third when three tries were conceded. But a lack of self-belief when 10-0 ahead was also responsible, according to the new recruit Peter Jorgensen, a twice-capped Australian who is rebuilding his career following a serious knee injury.

The 20-year-old certainly spoke as one with experience of causing an upset. Last year, he was in the Sydney side who defeated the All Blacks 40-17 and on Saturday evening Craig Chalmers, the Melrose and Scotland stand-off, was spotted picking his brains. Scottish teams may need all the assistance available when the All Blacks cross the border today.

Stewart's / Melville FP: Try Milligan; Conversion Thomson; Penalty Thomson. Melrose: Tries Simpson, Parker, Weir; Penalty Parker.

Stewart's / Melville FP: M Thomson; G Stirling, K Milligan (N Gallacher, 82), P Flockhart, P Jorgensen; D Wyllie (capt), G Burns; R McNulty, A Cadzow, G Rigby, A McMenigall, B Faulds, K Dobson, K Hamilton, N Penny.

Melrose: C Redpath; C Joiner, Ross Brown, G Shiel, N White; C Chalmers, G Parker; M Ross, S Brotherstone, M Browne, Robbie Brown (capt), E Simpson, A Kerr, G Weir, C Davies.

Referee: C Muir (Langholm).

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