ARGUABLY, if a side can play below par and still secure a league win then they deserve to be champions. That will be one possible rationalisation at Melrose after a disappointing display by the Tennents title holders against a Currie side which certainly earned respect.

The raw statistics give a blurred picture. Melrose scored four tries to Currie's one, a disappointing outcome for the Malleny Park side whose coach Bruce McNaughton was accurate in his summation of events when he said ``the score certainly flattered Melrose.''

For much of the game Currie enjoyed the better share of possession, particularly at the line-out where Mark Blair and new recruit Andy Lucking impressed, their forwards, notably Alan Watt, were effective in running at the opposition and behind the scrum, Ally Donaldson moved the ball sweetly to his outside backs, their best effort producing a score for wing Dave Officer.

What was missing in the Currie make-up was a cutting edge in the backline. Attacking with a flat alignment requires receiving players to vary the angle of their run cleverly and moreover, to take the ball at pace. If Currie can work on this apsect of their game then their backs will surely make more of the possession that seems guaranteed in future matches by their big pack.

Currie's main weakness was their propensity to lose possession.

Three times Melrose scored from Currie's loss of concentration on the ball, the first when Derek Stark was presented with an easy interception, the wing then sending Scott Nicol on his way to the line for the game's opening try.

Then Douglas Rogerson had the ball knocked from his grasp by Bryan Redpath in what seemed an off-side position. Craig Redpath gathered the ball and when his run to the line was halted, Steve Brotherstone was on hand to score.

Melrose's third exploitation try was scored by Jimmy Turnbull after Donaldson conceded a turn over after attempting to run the ball from inside his own twenty-two. To their credit, Melrose did create a score from an attacking move, successive breaks by Nichol and Rowen Shepherd allowing Nick Broughton to touch down.

Moreover Melrose showed a steely resolve in defence on Saturday, but if their ambitions doth domestically and who knows, perhaps in Europe, are to be achieved then they may have to ask more from their forwards.

SCORERS: Melrose - Parker 3c, 3p; Nichol 1t; Brotherstone 1t; Turnbull 1t; Broughton 1t. Currie - Donaldson 1c, 4p; Officer 1t.

Melrose - Shepherd; Stark, Nichol, Turnbull, Parker; Chalmers, Redpath; Browne, Brotherstone, Wright, Brown, McLeish, Redpath, Aitken, Broughton. Replacements - A Clark for McLeish (22min), M Ross for Wright (73).

Currie - Thomson; McIntyre, Plumb, Wilson, Officer; Donaldson, Rogerson; Watt, Ellis, Boyd, Lucking, Blair, Ward, Clark, Hardie.

Referee - R Megson (Edinburgh Wanderers).