Melrose avenge last year’s title heartbreak

Melrose head coach Rob Chrystie with the BT Premiership trophy (picture by Douglas Hardie).
Melrose head coach Rob Chrystie with the BT Premiership trophy (picture by Douglas Hardie).

Melrose 16, Ayr 13

Table-topping Melrose won the BT Premiership play-off against defending champions Ayr – the team which thwarted them in last year’s final.

The Greenyards hosts showed character to come back from behind at half time, on a cold, drizzly, overcast Saturday, and win the physical and psychological battle.

Scott Lyle opened the scoring for Ayr on the slippery, soft surface with a penalty after four minutes, with Craig Jackson replyingd in kind for the hosts on 12 and 21 minutes.

Ayr moved in front in the 26th minute with a try by Rory Hughes, converted by Lyle, after Melrose were pulled up for a crooked thow in.

Ten minutes later, the visitors stretched their lead when Lyle kicked his second penalty.

However, just on the interval, Robin Hislop was yellow carded for dropping a scrum, having failed to heed an earlier warning, and Jackson slotted the penalty to make the half-time score 9-13 to the visitors.

Jackson narrowly missed another penalty attempt early in the second half but, shortly afterwards, he laid on a scoring pass for captain Grant Runciman, then added the extras.

Despite a plethora of action, there was no more scoring, with Jackson collecting the man of the match award and Melrose the congratulations of their supporters and many in the rugby fraternity.

Melrose – Fraser Thomson, Austin Lockington, George Taylor, Craig Jackson, Ross McCann, Jason Baggott, Murdo McAndrew, Grant Shiells, Russell Anderson, Nick Beavon, James Head, Angus Runciman, Ruaridh Knott, Grant Runciman, Iain Moody. Replacements – Ross Ford, Dan Elkington, Ruairi McLeod, Ali Grieve, Bruce Colvine, Gavin Wood, Patrick Anderson.