Ayr 31

Melrose 44

Ron Evans at Millbrae

WITH Ayr having clinched last season’s BT Premiership at the Greenyards and Melrose then nicking the BT Cup against the Millbrae men at Murrayfield, the BT Charity Cup clash at Millbrae was an early opportunity for a marker to be put down for the upcoming season.

More of a gauntlet really as Melrose soon had the upper hand in the forwards, something they demonstrated to great effect with a line out drive, several phases and hooker Richard Ferguson diving over for the opening try.

Ayr’s response was immediate, a drive as fierce as their opponents leading to prop Adam Prentice going over with Frazier Climo’s conversion taking Ayr into a 7-5 lead.

Climo and Ben Chalmers exchanged penalties then another powerful Melrose thrust saw Nick Beavon’s try take them ahead in the twentieth minute.

Both sides were trying to ship the ball wide but it was the battle of the packs which consumed most of the action and the pivotal moment came when Climo was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on, a seven-point penalty try was awarded and the Ayr No10 was in the bin.

Melrose sniffed blood, Ross McCann skinned Grant Anderson for a try at the posts and when Gavin Wood was held short, his pass put Fraser Thomson over.

Nineteen points in the ten minutes Ayr were shorthanded was always going to be a daunting margin and although Rob McAlpine pulled a try back for Ayr after Ferguson had been binned, they still trailed 17-32 at the break.

It was significant that Ayr couldn’t take advantage of the extra man in the opening eight minutes of the second half but they did reduce the margin when Blair Macpherson got the touchdown after a ferocious Ayr drive and only eight points now separated the sides.

Sam Pecqueur was the man who gave Melrose the pivotal score when he crossed after a Jason Baggott kick infield was won by Iain Moody but still Ayr were not done and a second Macpherson try brought the home side to within a score of the lead.

Melrose came back with a beauty of a try, set up by a superb Thomson thrust, carried on by Pecqueur and when the ball came back to McCann he completed the try of the day.

Baggott converted, Ayr had no time to come back and Melrose lifted the BT Charity Shield.

The gauntlet has indeed been thrown down.

Melrose: Fraser Thomson, Ross McCann, Nyle Godsmark, Gavin Wood, Sam Pecqueur, Ben Chalmers, Murdo McAndrew, Grant Shiells, Richard Ferguson, Nick Beavon, Angus Runciman, Ruaridh Knott, Neil Irvine-Hess, Grant Runciman, Iain Moody. Replacements: Conall Howard, Ruairi McLeod, Ruairi Campbell, Ally Grieve, Bruce Colvine, Jason Baggott, Patrick Anderson.