Melrose 12

Ayr 20

Eilidh Walker at The Greenyards

MELROSE suffered their first loss of the season to Ayr at The Greenyards on Saturday, bringing to an end their 12-game Premiership winning streak.

The fixture had been due to take place at the start of December but after travelling to The Greenyards and taking part in the coin toss, Ayr refused to leave the changing rooms for the kick-off as they deemed the ground unplayable.

On Saturday, the crowd gave a collective sigh of relief as Ayr took to the field - but this relief was to be short-lived as the visitors dominated much of the match.

Ayr were the first on the score sheet through a try from prop Steven Longwell following just five minutes of play.

Scott Lyle added the conversion to lead 0-7.

Following this early flurry of activity and a promising break from the Melrose back line, the first-half descended into a stop-start affair which would continue for the majority of the match, with referee Keith Allen repeatedly halting play due to infringements from both sides.

With just over ten minutes left of the first-half Ayr lost full-back Grant Anderson to the bin and Melrose managed to take advantage, as they finally crossed for their first try through George Taylor, set up by Iain Moody.

Craig Jackson added the conversion to take the teams level.

Following a no-arm tackle Ayr replacement Jonny Agnew was also yellow carded reducing Ayr to 13 men.

With minutes left of the first-half Melrose mauled their way to the line and Richard Ferguson crashed over, with referee Allen deeming the ball to have been held up - but a short discussion with the touch judge resulted in the try being awarded.

Jackson missed the conversion but Melrose went into the break ahead 12-10.

A large portion of the second-half was dedicated to one scrum which was repeatedly reset and swallowed the momentum of the match.

James Head returned to the fray coming on for Angus Runciman, following an absence due to injury, only to leave the field injured shortly after.

Melrose prop Ruairi McLeod was shown the yellow card after 55 minutes of play and Ayr used their numerical advantage to thunder towards the line, ultimately knocking the ball forward just short.

An ill-judged kick from Fraser Thomson helped Ayr finally get to the line through lock Rob McAlpine, Lyle added the extras to take Ayr ahead 12-17.

Melrose had opportunities towards the end of the second-half but their usual momentum wasn’t with them and they couldn’t pull the game back.

An Ayr penalty from Lyle in the dying stages of the match closed the game, which had proved frustrating all round, taking the final score to 12-20.

Melrose will travel to Malleny Park on Saturday to face second-place Currie Chieftains.

Melrose’s George Taylor said: “It wasn’t our day today, we had a lot of mistakes and that’s our winning streak come to an end but we’d rather take the loss now, than a few weeks down the road when it comes to more important games, trophies aren’t handed out in January.

"We’ve got to take it on the chin and get back into hard training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday and then we’ll be back into it for Currie next week."

Melrose: F Thomson, G Taylor, N Godsmark, C Jackson, R McCann, J Baggott, B Colvine, D Elkington, R Anderson, N Beavon, A Runciman, I Moody, R Knott, G Runciman & A Miller. Reps: R Ferguson, R McLeod, J Head, R Darge & G Wood.