BT Premiership ROUND-UP | Impressive Ayr deny Melrose any points
Defending BT Premiership champions Ayr brought an end to Melrose’s 12-match unbeaten run in style as they used their muscle to impose themselves on an enthralling match.
The game started with the aggression and commitment that we have come to expect from this fixture and it was Ayr who would get the psychological upper-hand when they produced a dominant scrum to win a penalty against the head after a couple of minutes.
The visitors went for the corner and backed up their set-piece power with play around the fringes to record the first score.
Scrums ruled the first quarter with a number of resets and spills contributing to a stop-start period with both sides winning penalties.
It took Melrose more than 20 minutes to start creating the loose play on which they often thrive.
An intercept from Melrose’s Baggott gave them good territory and a cynical infringement from Ayr’s full-back Anderson reduced the visitors to 14 men.
Melrose kept the pressure on and the extra space gave them the room to get their first points on the board. The conversion from the touchline made things all-square.
An illegal tackle reduced Ayr to 13 before the half was finished and the increased advantage paid in the maul as Melrose took the lead for the first time.
One last gasp penalties from the Ayrshire team brought them within two at the break.
Half Time: Melrose 12 – 10 Ayr
The second half started as the first had with Ayr keeping it close and having the best of the play.
Another destructive scrum against the head won them a penalty less than 10 yards out and they elected to pack down once more. More scrum penalties resulting from Ayr’s dominance saw the ref reach for his pocket and the West Coast side went for set piece once more.
Melrose put in a herculean effort to hold them out in the tight and the loose and Ayr spilled over the line giving the Borderers the opportunity to clear.
The home team didn’t enjoy much possession before being turned by an Ayr kick. That was compounded when they all but gifted Ayr a second score after a sloppy kick.
From that point on Ayr were able to control the game. Staunch defence and a probing attack had Melrose looking as rattled as they have all season and they made uncharacteristic mistakes.
Committed defence saw Ayr win a kickable penalty and, after twelve try bonus point victories on the bounce, Melrose were denied even a losing bonus point.
Full Time: Melrose 12 – 20 Ayr
Elsewhere, Hawick recorded a third bonus point victory in a row to lift themselves out of the bottom spot following a red card for battling Heriot’s.
Watsonians powered past Marr to keep their play-off prospects alive and put the West Coast side only a point above the bottom of the table.
In this weekend’s Edinburgh derby, Currie Chieftains proved too strong for Boroughmuir.
BT Premiership results:
Melrose 12 – 20 Ayr
Currie Chieftains 41 – 7 Boroughmuir
Watsonians 64 – 5 Marr
Hawick 24 – 23 Heriot’s