Tennent's Premiership

AYR 38


By Callum Kerr

Pictures: George McMillan

A top-of-the-table clash on Saturday when Melrose travelled to Millbrae to take on Ayr RFC.

In a gritty and tense affair, Ayr’s firepower proved too much.

This bout was branded 'clash of the titans' and both sides took to the Millbrae pitch undefeated this season and with all four try-bonus points in the bag.

Peter Murchie's men shot out of the traps quicker. Within minutes a two-on-one opened up on the wing for Tommy Spinks to feed Grant Anderson. Anderson darted clear before finding Rory Hughes who looked dangerous but the ref blew for crossing.

Ayr's attacking prowess was rewarded in nine minutes when a high tackle on Gregor Henry gave Frazier Climo a chance to draw first blood but his penalty drifted wide.

It would still be Ayr to score first, but the try came via a Melrose blunder. Pinned back on their own try line, Melrose tried to exit but a pass into the dead ball area didn't find a pair of hands and Grant Anderson was quickest to pounce. Climo delivered with a two-point conversion.

For Melrose, a breakthrough came in 28 minutes. With Ayr down a man due to Rory Hughes seeing yellow for a dangerous tackle, Baggot walked in out wide with the home defence thoroughly strained. Craig Jackson's conversion slipped wide.

Ayr responded and Climo slotted a routine penalty minutes later.

The hosts looked like they had extended their lead two minutes later. Tommy Spinks started a counter attack. The ball was eventually shipped to the other wing and a 'Hail Mary' pass from Stafford McDowall put Anderson in for a score before the ref deemed it forward. On the stroke of half-time Climo again put Melrose to the sword. A crafty move from Kyle Rowe freed up Grant Anderson who was able to dance around the Melrose defenders before feeding the supporting Climo who was too quick to be caught. His try and conversion made it a 17-5 game at half-time.

Ayr had some well-earned breathing space coming out of the break but everyone knew this fixture would come down to the wire and Melrose struck fast as youngster Patrick Anderson found space out wide and cut the deficit. Jackson's conversion made it a five-point game.

After a lengthy break due to injury, Ayr got back on the scoresheet courtesy of Fosroc Scottish Rugby Academy Stage Three player Stafford McDowall. The centre then faked the pass, hoodwinking his opposite number and cantered in. Climo's conversion made it 24-12.

With Ayr unloading the bench, Pat MacArthur took to the pitch as an Ayr player for the first time in over a decade after an illustrious professional career with the Warriors.

With 20 minutes left an onslaught from Melrose was chipping away at an almost impenetrable Ayr defence. Heroic tackling was keeping them off of the try line but the crowd could sense a try was coming. Resources were further strained when captain on the day Macpherson entered a ruck from the side metres out and was sent to the bin. Melrose capitalised instantly with Bruce Colvine burrowing over. Jackson fao;ed to hit the mark from the tee.

Melrose were throwing everything at their opponents. The increased intensity backfired for the borderers with Ayr able to punish slack defence and grab two scores in quick succession to take the result out of sight.

The first came from skipper Macpherson.

The second was a thing of beauty. Man-on-form Kyle Rowe leaped into the sky like a salmon to seamlessly retrieve an Armstrong box kick and break up the field. The scrambling cover tackle was able to prevent him from getting his eight try in five games but couldn't stop the supporting Gregor Henry from grabbing the offload and running home. Climo's conversion took his personal tally on the day to 18.