Callum Kerr @ The Greenyards

In what was another epic encounter between Ayr and Melrose this afternoon, the Millbrae men couldn’t secure victory over their old foes. A secure performance defensively and slightly better reading on the unforced errors stats benefited the home side, who in the end came out 28-17 in front. 

As ever, the Greenyards provided a picturesque back drop for the encounter, delightfully boosted by the autumn sunlight sprawling across the pitch.

Ayr wasted no time in opening their account. Two minutes into the game a dropped ball from the hosts fell into the grasp of Jamie Bova who broke clear up the wing. The centre did well to entice the tackler before finding Ciaran Wood on his inside to finish off the move. The touchline conversion caught the November breeze eloquently to drift through.

The score managed to spring Melrose into life. Immediately they mounted pressure and marched towards the line from numerous touchline penalties. It looked like they were over minutes later, but the ref deemed their maul held up.

Ayr were still in bother. A yellow card to Scott Clelland was followed by a Melrose scrum which found Donald Crawford charging up the middle of the park. Crawford collided with several tacklers but had enough momentum to carry over for the score. David Colvine’s conversion tied it all up after a frantic opening ten minutes.

As the glimmering sun subsided behind the Eildon Hills the introduction of heavy clouds and harsh wind hindered the flowing rugby witnessed in the opening exchanges. A change in tack for both sides didn’t bring any more scores in the half, only a penalty a-piece to make it 10-10 at the break.

Half-Time: Melrose Rugby 10-10 Ayr Rugby

With the wind showing no sign in breaking the restart to the game would have been better suited for Wimbledon than the Greenyards. An array of mixed kicks from both sides aimed to exploit space behind the defence, and it was Melrose who made it fifteen-love.

Fullback David Colvine managed to stab the ball into touch and pin Ayr on their line. Following a further turnover, it was his brother who capitalised. Scrum half Bruce Colvine, usually known for his distribution, faked a crafty pass which parted the Ayr line, creating a gaping hole for him to stride clear. David Colvine poetically finished the job with the routine conversion.

Melrose soon stretched the lead further, with the boot of Colvine making it a 20-10 lead with an hour played.

Playing against the wind, Ayr were struggling to find territory, but a superior scrum allowed them to stay in the contest.

It soon turned out to be this superiority which thrusted them back into contention. From Melrose’s own scrum the Ayr pack drove them over their line, securing a team try. Bova once more slotted a tricky conversion in the conditions to make it 20-17.

As the match ramped up to its conclusion play became desperate. A barrage of loose passes and dropped balls resulted in electric pace – Ayr hell bent on stealing the lead and Melrose determined to stretch the gap. 

A Colvine penalty with a minute to play helped the home side’s cause, but Ayr did get one more roll of the dice.

With the clock in red, Ayr mounted one last attack and had the travelling support off their feet when Richie Simpson snuck through the line. The full-back looked around for his teammates but was met with a swarm of yellow jerseys. In a game which consisted of fine margins throughout, it ended with a pass narrowly missing the intended target, allowing Melrose to run clear and put the match to bed with one last score.

Full-time: Melrose Rugby 28-17 Ayr Rugby.