Ayr 17 - 34 Melrose: Rose make it look easy

A magnificent first-half display of pace and accuracy gave the visitors a 10-31 lead at the break and although last year's champions showed fighting spirit to win the second period 7-3, they were never really in this contest.

Melrose scrum-half Murdo McAndrew, left, grapples with Ayrs Scott Lyle at Millbrae. Photograph: Paul Devlin/SNS
Melrose scrum-half Murdo McAndrew, left, grapples with Ayrs Scott Lyle at Millbrae. Photograph: Paul Devlin/SNS

Melrose have come flying out the blocks this season, picking up three bonus point wins in three league outings so far; and they secured the four tries they wanted here with almost indecent ease.

Hooker Russell Anderson touched down after the power of the visiting team’s lineout drive had been expertly demonstrated in the fourth minute, then left wing Sam Pecqueur slipped through a gap in midfield to score under the posts with just over 10 minutes gone, before Ross McCann on the opposite wing showed good power to score his first and then plenty of pace to claim his second inside a six-minute period just after the half-hour mark.

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Ayr full-back Grant Anderson went over just before the break to snatch a lifeline, and the home team huffed and puffed for large periods of the second half, but their efforts were laboured, while Melrose seemed capable of slipping seamlessly into gear whenever the mood took them.

The closest Ayr came to reeling in their opponents was when visiting tighthead prop Ruairi McLeod was sent to the sin-bin for collapsing a driven lineout. Referee David Sutherland also awarded a penalty try at that point, but the hosts failed to capitalise during the subsequent ten minutes of having a man advantage, and actually ended up hemmed in inside their own half after Rob McAlpine was intercepted by Jason Baggott as he tried desperately to pick out a chink in Melrose’s armour.

“The first 15 minutes were pretty good, I thought, in terms of the way we attacked and the speed we were playing at,” said Melrose head coach Rob Chrystie.

“But throughout a game the opposition is always going to have moments and they had a few from 50 minutes onwards, so we probably need to look at how we manage that a bit better.

“Ayr have got some really good players in their squad as well. You’re not champions and then just fall off it, so we didn’t take anything for granted at half-time, and we had to battle it out a bit there in the second half.”