Melrose 12

Ayr 19

By Atholl Innes

at The Greenyards

MELROSE were defeated for the second time in a week by Ayr at the Greenyards on Saturday.

And the victory for the visitors spoke volumes for the quality of one of the country’s top sides aiming to make it a league and cup double.

The hosts could argue that they were not helped by the fact that Ayr had the benefit of pro players while Melrose were left to look at a side decimated by injuries.

Melrose led 12-0 just before half-time, but tries either side of the break, with Michael Mvelase-Julyan in the sin-bin, swung the game Ayr’s way.

Melrose head coach Rob Christie said: “I thought that the effort the boys put in was outstanding, but Ayr played a lot more territory after the break and squeezed us in a bit.

"It is hard when you are down to 14 men and you concede two tries, and we did not get any sustained pressure on them in the second half. But it was a one-score game and you are that close to getting over the line.

"There were young boys getting opportunities. We work hard as a club to make sure they are all prepared as much as possible."

Coach Peter Murchie’s half-time talk lifted Ayr spirits.

He said: "It was just a case of re-focussing on what we needed to do and implement that on the field. It is not rocket science and exercise more pressure inside their 22."

Melrose dominated the match territorially in the first half.

Conor Young drove over in 21 minutes, Craig Jackson converting, with Ayr lock Lars Morrice yellow-carded, and Donald Crawford added a second try for a 12-0 lead.

However, in injury time, Frazier Climo raced clear for a try which he converted.

Ayr took advantage of the extra man five minutes after the break when forward pressure brought a penalty try and Kyle Rowe’s try a further five minutes later put the visitors in the driving seat – and only a missed Climo penalty ensured that Melrose were still in the game until the final whistle.

Ayr will now face Heriot’s in the final at Murrayfield as well as the play-off final.

Murchie added: "We want to be in big games and it is good to know we are in the hunt,"

Melrose: D. Crawford; I. Sim, P. Anderson, G. Wood, M Mvelase-Julyan; C. Jackson, S. Hutchison; G. Shiells, R. Anderson, C. Young, J. Head, C. Crookshanks, R. Knott, G. Runciman, I. Moody. Replacements: R. Ferguson, B. McLean, T. Brown, P. Eccles, H. Morris, A. Jardine, T. Klein.