BT Premiership

Melrose 29 - Stirling County 14

STIRLING COUNTY’S flickering hopes of a top-four finish were extinguished as they fell to their fourth defeat in their last five BT Premiership matches, losing to Melrose on a dreich afternoon at The Greenyards.

Worryingly for County, the Bridgehaugh side have now dropped to eighth position in the table, and with only four league matches remaining their focus will now be on avoiding being sucked into the relegation play-off places.

County attacked from their kick-off testing the home defence, and after an early spell of sustained pressure the visiting forwards were held-up just short of the Melrose try-line, before a knock-on allowed the home-side to clear.

With 15 minutes played, Melrose's Lewis Carmichael scored the opening try, converted by Joe Helps, before Neil Irvine-Ness added a second this time unconverted for a 12-0 lead.

County responded immediately through winger Danny Gilmour and Jonny Hope kicked the conversion to reduce the deficit to 12-7.

County then grabbed the lead as Sam Johnson scored a try, converted by Hope to put them 14-12 in front.

But County’s lead lasted less than a minute, when Irvine-Ness ran in unchallenged to score a try, converted by Helps to give the home side a 19-14 half time lead.

The home-side extended their lead to 22-14 through a successful 25-metre penalty kick by Helps, before Richard Ferguson's try, converted by Helps, secured a commanding 29-14 bonus point win.