Melrose keen to perform well on massive play-off occasion

Grant Runciman, captain, on the ball for Melrose in their last match against Boroughmuir.
Grant Runciman, captain, on the ball for Melrose in their last match against Boroughmuir.

Melrose stand on the threshold of a bid to reach the last Premiership rugby final before the league undergoes transformation.

The Borders side travels to Ayr on Saturday for a semi-final play-off, with the winner facing either Heriot’s or Currie Chieftains to determine who’ll be Tennent’s Premiership champions for 2018-19.

With the new Super 6 structure coming into force after the summer, this is a significant campaign in the league’s history.

However, Greenyards’ head coach Rob Chrystie said the squad was not hinking much beyond the 80 minutes at Millbrae this weekend.

Somewhat unusually, the defending champions are travelling west from fourth place in the table, on 62 points, with Ayr top on 71.

Melrose have also not won since mid-January and have lost their last three games, including their most recent outing on March 2, when Boroughmuir stole the points from under their noses with a 14-12 win.

But Chrystie says the club has used the time fairly productively and is keen to make the most of Saturday’s chance.

“Our focus is very much on this weekend – we’re not looking too much in front of that,” he said. “To go through to Ayr and win a semi-final is going to require a massive amount of effort and the boys are going to have to be really accurate in what we do. They have trained pretty well over the last two to three weeks and I think we are in a reasonably good place.

“The boys are excited – we enjoy going up to Ayr. It’s a pretty vibrant club and I am sure there will be a warm welcome for us. They have come to us in the last couple of years in relation to the play-offs and the final, but we are looking forward to it. It’s going to be a big battle, no doubt, and our boys will be very excited about the occasion.”

Chrystie added: “There won’t be much in it – I think it will come down to whoever takes their opportunities. You don’t want these opportunities to slip through, so we will have a real crack at it and see how we go.”