Melrose urged to up game again
Chalmers wants to build on good start
CRAIG Chalmers is calling for a 40 per cent improvement in his team after they saw off league champions Currie at the Greenyards if they expect to achieve an early double by beating the Scottish Cup holders this afternoon.
Melrose lost convincingly to Ayr in last season’s cup final at Murrayfield, but Chalmers’ side came flying out of the blocks last week to overcome Currie with a fine second-half display. Crucial to that was the try-scoring form of Fraser Thomson, the full-back having stunned the club by returning from a shoulder operation nearly three months before originally estimated.
His two tries swung the game Melrose’s way and injected some extra anticipation to today’s Millbrae meeting. Ayr’s talismanic skipper Damien Kelly is back after undergoing toe surgery, but he is not 100 per cent and will start on the bench. Frazier Climo, the Kiwi stand-off, is still in New Zealand as he awaits the return of his passport after a new student work permit was granted.
Chalmers knows the depth of strength at Ayr, but must also acknowledge that catching them without those two players is a blessing, if his side can unearth consistency and back up last weekend’s promising start.
“We realise if we have any ambition of beating Ayr our overall performance must improve by about 40 per cent,” he insisted. “If we do up our performance level we’ll give ourselves a chance. We’re certainly looking forward to a tough game.” Ayr started last season with five wins on the trot while Melrose also opened with back-to-back victories before falling at the third hurdle away to Currie. The first meeting of today’s protagonists was at Millbrae in October and Ayr romped to a 34-15 win. That is why Chalmers is at pains to stress his team need to be better this time around.
Currie return to Malleny Park to face Dundee in an intriguing battle of two good sides smarting from three-point opening day defeats. Up at Mayfield Ian Rankin’s side were losing late on to new arrivals Stirling County while Currie’s light was fading in the Borders. Clearly, both need to return to winning ways with just ten games until the all-important league split, but Dundonians do not need a great memory to recall their last visit to Balerno – a 41-18 defeat on last season’s opening day.
Currie have shuffled the back line with Chris Kinloch off to university and Andy MacMahon injured, but with Andy Binikos back at fly-half they could actually be more clinical. The fact that they and Dundee scored 63 points between them last Saturday provided no consolation, but opening day provided pointers on areas that were weak and refereeing interpretations that the better teams will swiftly take on board.
Speaking about his match, but with words that will resonate more widely today, Rankin stated: “The opening game showed that defences were fragile. I think the result in this game will hinge on the team that best adapts to the new emphasis at the breakdown.”
Fraser thomson, pictured with John Dalziel and Callum Anderson, starred in Melrose’s win over Currie