Tennent’s Prem PREVIEW: Ayr looking to settle the score against Melrose
Ayr are aiming to topple perennial rivals Melrose at Millbrae today (23 March), as the teams prepare to battle it out for a spot in the Tennent’s Premiership final (kick-off 3pm).
While the Millbrae men will be emboldened by an imperious league campaign and a home advantage, they know that they face a stern challenge against current champions Melrose.
Ayr’s journey to the top of the table has seen them claim an impressive 14 out of 18 wins this season – whilst also recording 15 bonus points.
The sides have previously met twice this season – with Ayr taking the spoils on both occasions – however Melrose have been strengthened with the return of three first year pros in their backline.
Ayr Head Coach, Peter Murchie, said: “Knock-out games of rugby always have an edge to them and with many of the squad who first won the league in 2009 in attendance, it should be a great occasion.
“Melrose are a quality team, who are very familiar with big games, and we know we will have to be at our very best on Saturday.
“With a vocal home support behind the team it should bring out the best in us.”
Melrose enjoyed an impressive start to their 2018/19 campaign, however the side were hampered with injuries in the latter part of the season and as a result they have struggled this calendar year.
The Borders outfit will be looking to challenge their opponents and will be bolstered by the inclusion of Edinburgh players Jason Baggott and George Taylor in the midfield and Scotland 7s player Ross McCann on the wing.
Back-row Harri Morris will also be looking to make an impact from the bench with an exciting looking squad.
Melrose Head Coach, Rob Chrystie, said: “The semi-final away to Ayr is a great challenge that we are extremely excited about.
“Ayr have shown their quality finishing the regular season at the top of the league and rightly go into the game as out-and-out favourites being on home soil as well.
“There has been added intensity to our training over the last two weeks with all players working hard to ensure they are in the best place possible.
“I am sure there will be a large vocal crowd at Millbrae which will inspire both groups of players to play at their very best.”
Ayr v Melrose, Millbrae, 3pm
Ayr: Grant Anderson; Ratu Tagive, James Pinkerton, Danny McClusky, Kyle Rowe; Frazier Climo, Harry Warr; Ruaridh Sayce, Robbie Smith, Steven Longwell, David Corbenici, Lars Morrice, Blair Macpherson, Tommy Spinks, Pete McCallum CAPTAIN
Replacements: Alex McGuire, Euan McLaren, Alfie North, Cameron Reece, Jack Preston, Ross Curle, Ollie Smith.
Melrose: Craig Jackson; Gavin Wood, Patrick Anderson, George Taylor, Ross McCann; Jason Baggott, Murdo McAndrew; Grant Shiels, Russell Anderson, Conor Young, Angus Runciman, James Head, Ruaridh Knott, Grant Runciman CAPTAIN, Iain Moody
Replacements: Richard Ferguson, Calum Crookshanks, Thomas Brown, Harri Morris, Struan Hutchison, Donald Crawford, Iain Sim.