Ayr captain hopes for cup final thriller against Melrose

Ayr captain Pete McCallum, left, and Melrose counterpart Bruce Colvine will both be hoping to lead their teams to glory in the BT Cup final. Picture: SNS/SRU
Ayr captain Pete McCallum, left, and Melrose counterpart Bruce Colvine will both be hoping to lead their teams to glory in the BT Cup final. Picture: SNS/SRU
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Ayr captain Pete McCallum is hoping for the same outcome but doesn’t expect today’s BT Cup final against Melrose to be a carbon copy of last weekend’s Premiership final between the same teams.

The Millbrae men edged a tight and dour affair 12-8 at the Greenyards seven days ago and, as they look to repeat the double they won in 2013 at BT Murrayfield this afternoon, there is an obvious template for them to utilise as they look to get the better of Melrose again.

However, the Ayr No 8, who was watching on helplessly from the sidelines after a late yellow card as his team-mates hung on to their four-point lead last week, expects the cup final to play out a bit differently.

“I think there will be some more of the same. We have been building towards these two games for a while and knew who we were going to be playing against so we have been preparing well, but we still have a few tricks up our sleeve,” said McCallum.

“I couldn’t say too much [about the tricks] just now. I think this weekend will be a bit more open, I don’t think last weekend either team played as well in attack as we can, so hopefully on Saturday we can show what the best in club rugby can do.”

Ayr make two changes to the team that won the league title next week, with centre Ross Curle returning from suspension for what will be his last game for the club before retirement. Stafford McDowell, who stepped in for Curle last weekend, keeps his place in the midfield alongside the veteran, with Archie Russell dropping to the bench.

Robert McAlpine misses out through injury so Craig Stevenson starts in the second row.

“There are a few areas to tidy up. Last week we could have been better in the lineout in the first half and just be a bit more accurate in open play,” added McCallum.

“We have spoken about it being a number of years since we won here and we want to go out there and do the double.

“I was around then in 2012-23. I came off the bench in the cup final and played about 65 minutes [including extra-time] for Scott Sutherland.

“I was just a youngster then and everything was fast and I was chasing shadows. There are a few boys from then still here, Ross Curle, Grant Anderson, Scott Sutherland, George Hunter, Craig Gossman so they should be able to guide the younger players through.”

As for Melrose, coach Rob Chrystie made no bones about the fact that last week’s agony would form a big part of the motivation to turn the tables at the national stadium this afternoon.

“Definitely. We need to be better than we were last week because we fell a bit short,” said Chrystie. “We had chances and we didn’t take them, so we need to look at that. It was throughout the whole game; it wasn’t just about that last chance. We had clear-cut chances and we need to deal with that.

“It’s a completely different game and that’s the way we’ll approach it. We’ve got to play better than we did last weekend and that’s the focus this week at training.”

Club captain Bruce Colvine starts at scrum-half today, with George Taylor coming in for injured wing Austin Lockington and Nick Beavon starting at tighthead.

“I suppose it can work both ways, couldn’t it? We’ve got something to prove but they can come here pretty relaxed and start pinging it around,” said the Melrose coach when asked what effect the events of last Saturday could have on this.

“We will focus on ourselves.”