PREMIER DIVISION A
Atholl Innes reports from the Greenyards
HE’S a Gala boy and pals about with his friends at Netherdale, but Bruce Dick is wearing the Melrose jersey with passion and pride.
As with the other players, Peter Allan’s final whistle could not come quickly enough at the Greenyards as he raced off to fellow-centre Jamie Murray’s wedding celebrations.
On Saturday, Dick, who raised a few eyebrows when he twice moved three miles down the road from Gala, stamped his authority on the game with a brace of tries – helped by that other Murray, Cammie, the former international player, who has emerged from retirement.
Dick was realistic when asked about exchanging the maroon for yellow-and-black. “Melrose is a great club in a professional environment,” he said. “I am a Gala boy but then there was an opportunity and I have no regrets. It was good to score two tries and I felt that we always had the edge.”
Graeme Dodds, who has led by example, admitted the importance of the win in view of the crushing defeat by Dundee. “That was a big victory for us and we had to work for it as they have a big pack. The first half was a scrappy affair as we had not played for three weeks.”
The first half was an equal, if untidy, performance. Ayr probably had felt they had not done enough in the first 40 minutes to turn round only 3-0 ahead, courtesy of a Sylvain Diez penalty. The second-half transformation was remarkable as Melrose took a stranglehold on the game and could have scored more points.
They shifted the pack around – Gary Holborn and Dodds were outstanding – despite an injury to Grant Runciman and started to force the game.
Andrew Skeen and Diez missed penalties in a disappointing first half as Bruce Colvine found scoring gaps, which Melrose could not exploit until the second half.
Ayr had a lot of pressure towards the interval, only to be closed down to allow Melrose to clear their lines.
The second period of play was always going to be different and Ayr were jettisoned by a revitalised Melrose team, who went ahead within a minute.
It all started with a bullocking run from Murray, who broke from his own 22 and shifted the ball to Dick, who floated in under the posts. Skeen converted and suddenly it was 7-3 to Melrose.
There was no looking back and in the space of five minutes, Skeen banged over two penalties. It was known that there would be injury time after referee stoppages.
It was into the 83rd minute when Dick pounced on a loose ball for the crucial score and Skeen converted.
There were four minutes left – but Melrose were home and dry.
Melrose: F. Thomson; A. Dodds, B. Dick, C. Murray, J. Helps; A. Skeen, B. Colvine; N. Little, R. Ferguson, G. Holborn, S. Johnson, R. Miller, R. Ovens, G. Dodds, G. Runciman. Subs: N. Beavon, C. Keen, D. Crawford, S. McCormick, C. Hardie.