by COLIN RENTON
1. Melrose go into the game hurting
Very few sides win at the Greenyards at any stage of the season, least of all when there is silverware at stake. Having suffered a painful defeat at the hands of the same opponents in the BT Premiership Grand Final on their home patch, Melrose were given an instant opportunity to make amends. Losses in the finals of both competitions would have been unthinkable for the Borderers after a season in which they have been a model of consistency. Coach Rob Chrystie’s pre-match team talk would have been one of his easier motivational speeches.
2. Melrose fail to secure the ball at kick off
Seven days earlier, Ayr had failed to breach the Melrose defence on the way to a 12-8 win at the Greenyards that was secured through four penalties from the boot of Frazier Climo. But on this occasion they wasted no time in proving that the Melrose line was far from impregnable. The Borderers failed to secure the kick off and Ayr pounced on the loose ball to launch a move that ended when Climo combined with Pete McCallum to send Danny McCluskey in at the corner after only 42 seconds.
3. Melrose kick for touch instead of goal
With 18 minutes on the clock and on their first visit of note to Ayr territory, Melrose stretched the opposition defence and when the move was halted illegally, the Borderers had a chance to open their account. The award was well within range for Jason Baggott. However, rather than kick for goal, the ball was booted into touch. Grant Runciman gathered the throw at the tail of the lineout and a powerful surge drove him over the line, upgrading the three points to five and exposing an area that Melrose could exploit again later in the game.
4. Longwell held up by Runciman
Melrose restarted well and a penalty by Jason Baggott three minutes into the second half edged them back into the lead. Ayr responded with an attack that saw Ross Curle halted just short of the whitewash. The recycled ball found its way to Steven Longwell and the tight head prop thundered over. However, Grant Runciman – deservedly named man of the match – managed to get his body in the way and prevent the touchdown, an intervention that saved a try and enabled the Borderers to hold onto their three point advantage.
5. Climo unable to gather kick ahead
Frazier Climo sent up a speculative kick and as he chased the ball crashed into Craig Jackson in what some in the crowd believed to be a case of blocking. The incident took place in front of the assistant referee who took the view that nothing was amiss. With Climo on the ground, Melrose claimed the loose ball and Murdo McAndrew scampered clear before sending George Taylor in for the try. With Jason Baggott off the field, Jackson stepped forward to stroke over the conversion and tie the scores with 14 minutes left to play and create the platform for the Borderers to go and lift the trophy.