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Gunners 31 The Borders 18

Murrayfield reverberated to high passion and deeds of derring do as the National midi finals took place this afternoon, culminating in a pulsating game between Howe of Fife and Gala Red Triangle in the U16 final. The mighty Howe's 22-14 victory was greeted with such ecstatic acclaim by their travelling support that it rivalled celebrations in Wales this weekend.

The Celtic League match that followed saw the Gunners prevail over The Borders 31-18 to exact some revenge for their Hogmanay reverse at Netherdale. Whereas last time, the Edinburgh pack came off second best, this time, they had the upper hand, setting up what turned out to be a fairly comfortable, though hard fought, victory in the end.

After Laney had missed an early penalty chance, Charlie Hore opened the scoring for the visitors with a penalty, after the Border pack had plundered an enemy lineout. The Borders, indeed, had several spells of pressure in the first quarter. But it was Edinburgh who scored the first try. After Laney had kicked a penalty into the corner and Smith had been held up after several Gunner drives, the visitors infringed again. From the succeeding lineout, Callam was driven over by the pack in the corner for the unconverted penalty on 12 minutes that gave Edinburgh a lead they were never to lose.

Five minutes later, the Chainsaw stroked over a penalty for a scrummage infringement in front of the posts. He was on the scoreboard again on 24 minutes for a Borders offside, then nailed his third penalty on the half hour, as Borders indiscipline followed their promising start to the game.

Lovely sleight of hand from Marcus Di Rollo off a good Kellock steal at a Borders lineout saw Japan bound Laney set sail for the Border line from distance, but his final pass went forward as the defence eventually caught up with him deep in the enemy 22.

While it had not exactly been all Edinburgh in the first half, they had certainly been the better team. So it was a bit disappointing that they conceded a McGee try on the stroke of half time - a carbon copy of Callam's - that narrowed the score at the break to only 14-10.

But the Gunners started the second period superbly. They drove a maul off the opening kick off fully 20 metres, then the ball was spun to the other wing. Di Rollo cut inside at halfway, then Smith powered forward. A Di Rollo pass put Laney clear for the great man to scoot over for the touchdown, but the referee correctly adjudged the final pass forward. With the Borderers also looking enterprising, the stage was set for an entertaining half.

After an exchange of penalties between Hore and Laney, Edinburgh scored the best try of the night with 14 minutes left. The move was ignited by Mike Pyke, The Cantering Canuck, whose run down the left wing left defenders flailing in his wake. Indeed, the big man had looked lively in attack, and defended well throughout the match. Webster took it on, then Blackadder into the 22, before Laney made ground in the centre. The ball was spun back left and a floated Godman pass gave Fergus Pringle enough space to crash over in the corner. Laney's superb conversion from the touchline made the score 24-13.

Five minutes later, off scrum ball on half way, Callam fed Lawson. The half-back hit Laney at full throttle on the blind side. The Chainsaw sliced clean through, drew the full back then timed his pass perfectly to put the supporting Callam over under the posts for his second try of the night in an illustration of the No 8's impressive pace. Naturally, the Chainsaw slotted the conversion for a handsome 31 - 13 lead with around ten minutes left.

But not for the first time, Edinburgh went into a slumber immediately after their score. The lively Johnny Weston took full advantage, alertly taking a quick tap penalty for an unconverted try. While Dewey and Smith both came close in the final minutes, Edinburgh were not able to secure the bonus point try, running out 31-18 winners in the end, a victory that leaves them clear in sixth place in the league, only five points behind the Scarlets, and six behind the Dragons, their final opponents at home this season.

The win also guarantees Heineken Cup rugby for the Gunners next season.


THE CHAINSAW'S excellent all-round performance at full back saw him take tonight's prize.

EDINBURGH; Laney 4P 2C, Callam 2T, Pringle 1T
THE BORDERS: Hore 2P 1C, McGee 1T, Weston 1T


EDINBURGH RUGBY: Laney; Pyke, Di Rollo, Dewey, Webster; Godman, Lawson; Jacobsen, Kelly, Smith, Pringle, Kellock, Blackadder (c), Callam, Cross. Replacements: Hall, Dickinson, Duncan, Harrison, Cusiter, Boston, Joiner.

THE BORDERS: Moffat; Danielli, Hore, Pattison, Walker; Warnock, Weston; Thomson, Scott, McGee, Blair, Stewart, Ford, Miller, Dalziel. Replacements: Kay, Cross, Parr, Newlands, Goodfellow, Morton, Law

Referee: Bollard (WRU)