The final match of the 2016/17 BT Premiership season to determine play-off places was played on a dull and damp afternoon with the nearby Ochil peaks shrouded in mist and with the ground level conditions extremely sticky. Jason Baggott opened the scoring with a penalty at four minutes, a feat which he failed to mimic at 21 minutes. In the meantime, at 11 minutes, Stirling put in a rolling maul having won a penalty line-out in the right corner letting Mark Hunter crash over for the opening try which Jonny Hope converted. On 27 minutes Stirling , whilst attacking, dropped the ball on the Melrose side of halfway. Bruce Colvine gave the ball a monumental hoof down the park. Nyle Godsmark, playing soccer, guided the ball over the line for Baggott to dive on it to score an opportunist try between the posts. The attempted conversion bounced back off the upright.
Half time - Stirling County 7 Melrose 8.
Six minutes into the second half Melrose won a penalty line-out in the left corner and, after several plays going right, Ali Grieve scored in the right corner. Passing out of defence, at 53 minutes, Stirling allowed Godsmark to steal the ball from them to run, unopposed, for a try in the left corner. Four minutes later Russell Anderson completed a rolling maul from a penalty line-out in the right corner. This bonus point try was sufficient for Melrose to overtake Ayr to lead the Premiership table. With 64 minutes played Melrose won a scrum in the right corner and after a series of picks and drives going left Austin Lockington scampered in for a try to the left of the posts with Baggott kicking his first successful conversion of the match. At this point Stirling ran out of fit front row players ensuring that the match was completed with uncontested scrums.
Following the results of to-day's matches the play-off semi-final will be played versus Currie at The Greenyards on Saturday, 1st April.
Stirling County 7 Melrose 30.
Stirling County - Logan Bonar, Shaun MacDonald, Jonny Hope, Craig Mundell, Owen Jarvie, Ross Jones, Colin Turnbull, Mark Hunter, Rayner Kennedy, Craig Black, Hamilton Burr, Ruaridh Leishman, Alex Taylor, Andrew Grant-Suttie, Harry Henderson. Replacements - Matthew Emmison, David Jamieson, Ross Bundy, Chris Fail, Kieran Gammie.
Melrose - Fraser Thomson, Austin Lockington, Nyle Godsmark, George Taylor, Gavin Wood, Jason Baggott, Bruce Colvine, Dan Elkington, Russell Anderson, Ruairi McLeod, Ali Grieve, Anton Bresler, Ruaridh Knott, Grant Runciman, Iain Moody. Replacements - Cammy Mackay, Calum Crookshanks, Aaron Welsh, David Colvine, Murdo McAndrew.
Referee - Cammy Rudkin. Assistants - Charles Samson & Digby Thomas.
Image by Douglas Hardie