NEVER recovering from a bad start, Melrose lost to league leaders Ayr at Millbrae on Saturday, a result which sees the West Coast outfit go six points clear at the top of the Premiership table.
Ayr were determined to hang on to their top spot and demonstrated this from the off with prop Nick Cox being driven over from an attacking line-out for a try, converted by Finn Russell, after five minutes. Hooker Hayden Wisneski burrowed over for a try just minutes later and Melrose’s woes continued halfway through when Dean Kelbrick powered his way up the right touchline for a try in the corner.
It took another 10 minutes before an Andrew Skeen penalty put Melrose on the scoreboard.
Slowly, the Melrose pack began to assert itself, however, and just before the break, as a result of the fourth consecutive collapse of the scrum on the Ayr goal line, Melrose were awarded a penalty try, converted by Skeen to make the half-time score 17-10 to the home side.
The visitors looked about to score early in the second half, but, unfortunately, Grant Runciman, who had broken clear, was caught by the Ayr cover defence just short of the line.
Just after this, Ayr scrum half Peter Jerecevich broke, off-loaded to Ross Curle, who, in turn, off-loaded back to Jerecevich, who dotted down for a bonus-point try between the posts, with Russell adding the conversion.
After 70 minutes’ play, Melrose were awarded their second penalty try for the same reason as the first, and again, Skeen added the points. Another five minutes were played before Callum Forrester dived over for Ayr’s fifth, but Melrose bounced straight back with Skeen converting a John Dalziel try.
With only five points separating the teams, Melrose’s hopes of a steal began to rise. However, lack of discipline allowed Russell to kick a penalty with the last kick of the match to put the match, as well as a losing bonus point, out of sight.
Melrose: S. Chalmers; A. Letham, A. Skeen, J. Helps, L. Mallin; R. Mill, B. Colvine; N. Little, R. Ferguson, G. Holborn, R. Miller, P. Eccles, J. Dalziel, G. Runciman, A. Nagle. Subs: A. Walker, C. Keen, R. Ovens, S. McCormick, R. Taylor.