BT Premiership ROUND-UP | Ayr show champion form to book final replay with Melrose
It was glorious spring day across Scotland and Malleny Park welcomed second and third place finishers Currie Chieftains and Ayr to tough it out for a spot in the BT Premiership final while Melrose hosted Watsonians at the Greenyards.
Currie Chieftain v Ayr
The sides had met twice in the league campaign with home advantage counting for little as both Chieftains and Ayr took an away win apiece.
It was no different this afternoon as Ayr scored 14 unanswered points in the second half to win 24-21.
The bumper crowd didn’t have to wait long for a home score as after just five minutes Currie burst through and dotted down beneath the posts to open up an early lead.
Ayr were quick to strike back through the boot of fly-half, Scott Lyle, as the visitors asserted their dominance at scrum time and closed the gap.
After trading these scores the teams struggled to gain much momentum as turnovers and handling errors undid what they had done well - Ayr from the pack and Currie through the hands.
Nearly half an hour had passed before either side could break through again. Awarded a penalty for a high tackle, Currie went to the corner and a well taken set-piece was mauled over the line and converted to stretch the home lead.
A yellow card a few minutes later for Ayr’s Rob McAlpine didn’t help the visitor’s cause and Currie had a near carbon copy of their second try through a second line-out maul.
Ayr rallied well, however, and got their first five-pointer of the match through prop, Longwell, to close the half and cut into the deficit.
Half Time | Currie Chieftains 21 – 10 Ayr
Ayr started the second period more brightly and turned Chieftains early to win a short-range scrum. The visitors won penalties and reset a number of times but Currie were able to hold up their creaking pack up and force Ayr to play.
The result was another scrum as the men in pink and black were held up. Again, Currie held the scrum up but they couldn’t hold back the tide anymore and Ayr’s converted score cut the lead to just four.
That Currie lead was turned into an Ayr one for the first time as the west coasters used a maul of their own to score and set up a grandstand last quarter.
Things stayed tight from then on in as Ayr showed their champion pedigree, playing the game in opposition half and ensuring that if the home side were going to steal the win they would have to produce something special.
A red card for Richie Vernon for a tip-tackle with a few minutes remaining looked to have made things still more difficult for Currie but they threw everything at Ayr in the remaining time, stringing countless phases together but they were finally turned over to end the game and send Ayr to the final.
Full Time | Currie Chieftains 21 – 24 Ayr
Melrose v Watsonians
On a sun-drenched spring day at the Greenyards, hosts Melrose secured a solid victory over Watsonians to book their place in the BT Premiership final (37-8).
The Borders outfit found their stride in the opening minutes of the game with a scything break from full-back Fraser Thomson who offloaded to Austin Lockington. Although it appeared that the winger would be the first to cross the whitewash, a try-saving tackle by Mark Bertram bundled the attacker into touch.
Minutes later, Watsonians were pinged for not rolling away, with Craig Jackson slotting the ball through the uprights to put the first points on the board for Melrose.
After a prolonged spell of possession, Melrose mounted another attack when the forwards drove a lineout towards the line for Russell Anderson to score under the pile.
The hosts displayed ruthless efficiency when a scorching interception by Ross McCann from his own half saw the speedy winger race 60 metres down the pitch to score under the posts and extend their lead.
As the clock approached the 40-minute mark, stand-off Jackson received a yellow card for a high tackle, resulting in a penalty for the visitors to which Ali Harris nudged over.
Half Time | Melrose 17 – 3 Watsonians
After the break, Melrose continued to strengthen their position in the game following another impressive break by Thomson who scampered down the right touchline to score in the corner.
The visitors responded on the 48th minute, exerting pressure on the Melrose line James Miller found a gap to barge over for a try from close range, however, another penalty by Jackson helped to extend the gap on the scoreboard for the Borderers.
Melrose rediscovered their rhythm in attack when McCann brushed off three defenders to dive over under the posts, with Jackson successful with the boot to add the extras.
As the game drew to a close, the hosts swiftly moved the ball through the hands, with Thomson making yards, before offloading to McCann who went on to complete his hat-trick of tries and rounded off his side’s victory to secure their place in the BT Premiership final.
Full Time | Melrose 37 – 8 Watsonians
The results means that Ayr face Melrose at the Greenyards after the Borderers confirmed their home final, as highest placed finishers in the league campaign, by beating Watsonians.
BT Premiership semi-final play-off results
Currie Chieftains 21 – 24 Ayr
Melrose 37 – 8 Watsonians
BT Premiership Final - Saturday 7 April
Melrose v Ayr, the Greenyards, 3pm