Trouble for Melrose

Watsonians 26 Melrose 2
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The Independent Online

Having opened the Tennents Premiership by beating their two closest challengers from last season by contrasting margins, the champions, Melrose, will find their resolve tested off the field this week.

Scotland's leading clubs gather on Wednesday to hear presentations from the English Professional Rugby Union Clubs, who are threatening to break away from the RFU. It will be put up or shut up time for the Scots as they consider the implications of a possible British League.

North of the border, there is mounting disillusionment with the Scottish Rugby Union, who are set to offer each First Division club only a quarter of the pounds 50,000 they had been given to expect from European Cup revenue.

The Scottish clubs have always feared being emasculated if players signed contracts currently on offer from the SRU, who intend creating district teams under their control. But the extent of these fears are only now becoming apparent, and at best the top players could be available to clubs only at the start and end of each season, according to a blueprint finalised by SRU officials at the weekend.

So for the likes Melrose, it is a case of making the most of what they have in the meantime, although a visit to Myreside proved the title race will be anything but the gentle stroll many were predicting after their 10-10 win over Stirling County in the opening round. Had Watsonians proved stronger scrummagers, a 10-point lead might have been protected on Saturday.

Watsonians: Tries Hodge, Hastings; Conversions Hodge 2; Penalties Hodge 4. Melrose: Tries Nichol 2, Aitken 2; Conversions Parker 2; Penalty Parker.

Watsonians: D Lee; F Henderson, S Hastings, A Garry, J Kerr; D Hodge, G Burns; A Kittle, G McKelvey (capt), M Stanaway, S Grimes, G McRaild, C Mather, C Brown, J MacDonald.

Melrose: R Shepherd; G Parker, S Nichol, J Turnbull, D Stark; C Chalmers, B Redpath (capt); M Browne, S Brotherstone, P Wright, R Brown, K McLeish, C Redpath, S Aitken, N Broughton.

Referee: C Muir (Langholm).