Tennent's Premiership


AYR 32

By Callum Kerr

SO far this season for Ayr it has been the young guns who have earned the plaudits but in their finest hour so far it was the Silverado’s who showed true grit.

Led by the talismanic Frazier Climo, who contributed just the 22 points, Ayr bounced back from disarray last weekend to an emphatic victory over Melrose at the Greenyards. The 15-32 win sees Peter Murchie’s men leapfrog their opposition and sit pretty in pink at the top-of-the-table for Christmas.

It was Rob Chrystie’s side who drew first blood. The rolling-maul disintegrated Ayr’s defence last week and it looked like it could be another long afternoon when Melrose scored in similar fashion after twelve minutes. The conversion slipped wide.

Not perturbed by the opening score, Climo added two quick penalties to take a slither of a lead.

With 27 minutes played Ayr stretched away. A well-weighted grubber from Danny McCluskey was scooped up by full-back Fraser Thomson, but the rushing Ayr wingers were able to drive him over his own try line. That looked like the end of it before Paddy Dewhirst managed to get two hands on the ball and strip it clean from Thomson and dot down. The conversion drifted wide.

It can often be easy to overlook the finer work of a well-oiled pack, but Pat MacArthur’s control on the game was clear for all to see. Solid at the set-piece and abrasive with ball in hand, the veteran was leading by example and had the forwards singing from the same hymn sheet at lineout time.

As the first half dwindled away it was Ayr who were in the driving seat. Bruising carries from Lars Morrice and Steven Longwell had Ayr in touching distance of the line before Harry Warr shipped to his ten. In a movement which will be very familiar to the travelling support, Climo glided through a wall of defence jaw-droppingly unscathed and dived over. His conversion concluded the half.

Melrose came out firing after the interval. Within a minute they were in Ayr’s 22 and threatening a score. In stark contrast to Ayr’s line-out, Melrose struggled to connect. A faulty throw metres out bounced awkwardly into Ayr’s dead-ball area but Climo reacted first and managed to launch a monstrous kick 60 metres up the field.

The clearance only prolonged Melrose’s score. A few minutes later George Taylor broke through and found open-man Patrick Anderson on his outside to make it 18-10. Jackson’s troubles from the tee continued, with the conversion wide of the mark.

With just more than a converted try in the tie the next score was crucial.

A high tackle on Harry Warr provided a penalty kick to touch. From the resulting rolling-maul Pat MacArthur burrowed over to mark his return to action with a score. A tricky touchline conversion presented itself to Climo but the Kiwi remained unfazed and split the uprights.

With ten left to play Melrose found themselves 15 points adrift and running out of time. With all other options exhausted Craig Jackson pulled off a crafty cross-field kick which landed in the hands of Iain Sim, the conversion again didn’t hit the target.

The cherry on top for Ayr came in injury time. Melrose didn’t react quickly to a stolen ball by Grant Anderson and the full back strutted through a gaping hole in open-play. When approaching his opposite number he slammed on the breaks and found Paddy Kelly in support. The Glasgow Warrior looked to be in under the posts but when impressively caught by the covering defender he shipped to Climo who finished off his mammoth performance with a brace. He converted for good measure.

Ayr now sit in pole position for the festive break and will look to continue with today’s form in the new year.