Melrose overcome Ayr to extend lead in BT Premiership

Melrose extended their lead in the BT Premiership title race by overcoming an Ayr side intent on self-destruction with a seeming addiction to coloured cards, writes Alan Lorimer.

Melroses Ruairi McLeod goes over for a late try at Greenyards. Picture: SNS.

Ayr ended the match with 13 men, flanker Bordill, 
having been dismissed 15 
minutes before full time after his second yellow card became an automatic red and stand-off Ross Curle following some ten minutes later.

“Our discipline cost us. We can get away with it against teams in the lower half of the league but when you come here it’s difficult,” said Ayr head coach Calum Forrester.

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Bordill’s first act of 
indiscipline was a late tackle on Craig Jackson but, far from being unsettled by the delayed hit, the Melrose stand-off went on to stage an imperious 
performance, showing excellent distribution skills and deft touches with his accurate kicks over the defence.

Moreover, Jackson, whose cousin Ruaridh is a Scotland cap, was flawless off the tee, kicking five goals from five attempts for a 12-point contribution.

“Craig Jackson was outstanding today,” said Melrose head coach Rob Chrystie. “He’s surely put his hand up for the club international, although he’s not in the squad right now.”

Melrose were unlucky to lose their outstanding back row Neil Irvine-Hess, who, apart from being the go-to man in the line-out, was ever present on the ball in loose play. Irvine-Hess sustained a concussion injury after an attempted tackle, but Melrose were scarcely weakened by his departure after Edinburgh professional Lewis Carmichael came on as the replacement for the back row.

Not that Ayr were without their pros. The Millbrae side fielded Scotland caps Adam Ashe and Pat MacArthur in their pack, making the contest, in Chrystie’s words, “a real physical game of rugby”.

Melrose made their physicality count when Ayr were short-handed, by working two tries in the last quarter from what is an efficient rolling maul, hooker Russell Anderson and replacement prop Ruairi McLeod the scorers.

But even before Ayr’s discipline imploded, Melrose looked winners and the manner of their opening try, triggered by Fraser Thomson’s decision to run a penalty from his own line and finished by Austin Lockington via passes from Jackson and George Taylor, suggested the confidence of potential champions.

Ayr, who had opened the scoring through a Ross Curle penalty, replied to the Lockington try with a sustained siege on the Melrose line that ended with skipper Pete McCallum crashing over and Curle converting.

But that was Ayr’s final points as both indiscipline and Melrose strength dictated the outcome.