Mel­rose urged to up game again

Chalmers wants to build on good start

The Scotsman - - Sfl In Focus - DAVID FEr­Gu­SON

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

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