Ayr ladies first action of 2018 was a narrow defeat to Cartha Queens Park Ladies yesterday at Dumbreck. Ayr got off to a flying start taking the lead in the first 15 minutes but it was Cartha who managed to tough it out in the second half.
With the season reaching its business end it was a game neither side wanted to lose. Ayr's number 8 Joanne Jones opened the scoring with a crafty chip-and-chase wrong-footing Cartha's defensive line. Catherine Shennan converted to make it 0-7.
Cartha weren't down for long. Ayr's defence held up well throughout the contest but they had no answer for Cartha's menacing outside centre who ran in two tries to put them on top- their stand-off converted both.
The biggest point in the match came with ten to play when Cartha's 10 punished Ayr with a penalty to cushion their lead. 17-7.
As both teams entered the closing stages of the game Ayr began to fight back. Connie Griffths proved to be a menace breaking the gain-line with her runs. A consolation for Ayr finally came as scrum-half Rachel Morrison sniped in from close-range to guarantee the losing bonus point- Shennan converted to conclude the scoring at 17-14.
Shania Irvine picked pop MOTM.
Ayr Ladies now have a weekend off to re-group and prepare for Stewartry Sirens in two weeks time.
Ayr continued with their winning ways yesterday beating Stirling County 16-25 at Bridgehaugh. Stirling came out of the blocks quickly but as the game moved into the later stages Ayr's steely resolve showed, marking their second win of 2018.
The game went to the script of the home side straight from kick-off with Stirling's first chance coming in the opening minutes. They looked poised for a score when the ball was shipped out wide but a stray pass found Grant Anderson who was able to break clear and end the threat. Not long after, a routine kick from Stirling full-back Jonny Hope put the home side up three.
Stirling added to their lead minutes later, with Hamilton Burr charging down an Ayr clearance kick. From there, he marched under the posts falling onto the ball. Hope's conversion put them 10-0 up after 12 minutes.
Ayr began to assert themselves in the next 10 minutes, with bulldozing runs from Blair Macpherson off the back of the scum chipping away at a sturdy Stirling defence. Their momentum reaped no reward however and on the 27 minute mark Hope added another three onto Stirling's lead.
Five minutes from half-time Ayr found themselves down 13-0 and in need of a score. They began to build phases deep in Stirling's 22 and finally found the line who Steven Longwell barged over from close range. Lyle's conversation made it 13-7
Hope received another chance to add three more shortly after but wasn't able to connect.
Ayr started the second half with much more intensity with their forward pack bullying Stirling off the ball. After multiple infringements by the home side Ayr decided to go for the posts. Lyle made no mistake, narrowing the gap to 13-10.
Almost immediately Stirling cancelled out the three. Ayr were pinned for entering the ruck from the side and Hope punished the error- they now lead by six.
Lyle was at the heart of everything and on the 58 minute played a crafty grubber intended for Craig Gossman. Gossman couldn't reach it, but Hope could only carry it over his try line resulting in a scrum five. From the scrum Ayr decided to go wide. a twisting run from Climo carved up Stirling's defence. He offloaded to Lyle who blitzed up the touchline and in for Ayr's second try. He couldn't convert, bringing the scores to 16-15.
Ayr took the lead for the first time in the match minutes later. Stirling's lack of discipline at the ruck awarded Ayr with a penalty, Lyle stepped up to put them up two.
From then on Ayr dictated the play- David Armstrong was elementary in Ayr's movement. Their attack began to spark but it was only out-done by incredible defence from the home side.
With three to play Ayr finally got breathing space. A knock-on at half way fell to the boot of Scott Lyle who kicked through. From there it was a footrace for the try line- Lyle won. He added two more from the tee which brought the scoring to 25-16.
Ayr's 2XV were also in action at Bridgehaugh, falling to Stirling 2XV 20-14. Ben Paterson picked up his second MOTM in as many weeks.
Now all eyes move to next weekend's action with near-neighbours Marr coming to town. With Marr hell-bent on avoiding relegation and Ayr in the hunt for a home semi-final it's a match neither side will want to lose.
This weekend's BT Premiership action takes Ayr to Bridgehaugh where they will face Stirling County.
Ayr started the new year with a massive win over league leaders Melrose and will look to emulate that inspiring form this weekend.
A Stirling side sprinkled with ex-millbrae men, including former captain Ross Curle, will know Ayr's personnel inside-out which will lend itself to a fiercely competitive match-up. With the regular season beginning to reach its natural conclusion both sides know every point is vital in the hunt for a play-off spot. Ayr are currently in fourth, with their eyes on a home semi-final and Stirling sit in sixth, 12 points off the play-off pace.
Ayr will find great confidence in more players returning from injury. Frazier Climo returns to start at fly-half and Danny McCluskey will be looking to inject some pace into the game from the bench.
The 2nd XV are also away to Bridgehaugh and will look to get back to winning ways after a narrow defeat to Glasgow Hawks 2s last weekend- Harry Warr drops down to captain the side.
Ayr's 1XV: Grant Anderson (C), Paddy Dewhirst, Scott Lyle, Stafford McDowall, Craig Gossman, Frazier Climo, David Armstrong; Robin Hislop, Robbie Smith, Steven Longwell, Jonathan Agnew, Rob McAlpine, Tommy Spinks, George Stokes, Blair Macpherson.
Subs: Lewis Anderson, Ryan Grant, George Hunter, Danny McCluskey, Matt Davidson.
Ayr's 2XV: Johnny McCorkindale, Sam Gray, James Armstrong, Sam Graham, Jamie Bova, James Pinkerton, Harry Warr (C); Fraser Miller, Stuart Collier, Ruairidh Sayce, Michael Badenhorst, Alan Miller, Craig Brown, Seth Rae, Cameron Reece.
Subs: Ben Paterson, Zander Howie, Zac Howard, Lewis Young.
Ayr inflicted Melrose’s
first defeat of the season yesterday with a 12-20 victory at the Greenyards. The
two sides saw plenty of each other in 2017 and the first action of the new
year proved to mimic the ferocious intensity which has become a trademark of
the fixture in previous games.
Ayr’s youngsters showed how menacing they can be in the
opening phases with Paddy Dewhirst wriggling along the touchline and Scott Lyle
nailing a perfect kick for touch. Ayr won a penalty from the following line-out
which Lyle sent back into the crowd. A catch and drive put Steven Longwell over
the line- Scott Lyle converted making it 0-7 after just five minutes.
Straight from the restart Melrose looked to bounce back, but
after building multiple phases a stray pass wandered forward allowing Ayr to
get rid of the threat.
The next breakthrough came in the 20th minute,
when another Melrose penalty allowed Lyle to kick to touch. Ayr aimed to drive
but intense pressure from the home side forced a knock-on allowing Baggot to
clear his lines from a scrum.
Melrose began to build, playing more like the side we have
become accustom to this season. Momentum was in their favour when a yellow card
to Grant Anderson gave them a big penalty opportunity- they went to the corner.
George Taylor scored in the following play, with centre Craig Jackson evening
Ayr received another big blow minutes later with Jonathan
Agnew being sent to the bin for a late tackle.
Melrose grabbed their second try just after, with Richard
Fergusson falling over from a maul- Jackson pushed the conversion wide which
brought the scoring to 12-7.
On the stroke of half-time Lyle got a chance to scrape back
the deficit when Melrose were marched back 10 yards on a penalty, bringing him
into kicking range- he made no mistake, 12-10 at half-time.
The second half continued with the same intensity as the
first, David Armstrong proving to be the ever-present thorn in Melrose’s side-
they had no answer for him. He conducted Ayr’s backline deep into Melrose’s 22
but the attack dwindled with another knock-on. Melrose didn’t capitalise
however and utterly dominating scrummaging from Ayr won a turnover and a
penalty- realising how commanding they were in this area, Ayr opted for another
scrum on Melrose’s five metre line.
The next ten minutes of play began to get repetitive with
Ayr winning four penalties in a row from the scrum. Everyone at the Greenyards
attention turned to the possibility of a penalty try, but referee Keith Allan
was reluctant to give, instead sending McLeod to the sin bin.
On the fourth scrum Ayr decided to break and bulldozing
carries from prop pairing Steven Longwell and Robin Hislop inched them closer
and closer to the line. A try looked imminent, but the ball was lost forward
and somehow Melrose had escaped the barrage unscathed.
Ayr weren’t rattled by coming away empty handed and the next
five minutes continued in the same vein as before, with Melrose constantly pushed
deep into their own half.
Ayr’s breakthrough came just after the sixty-minute mark
when a chip from the Melrose full-back Fraser Thompson landed in the hands of
Craig Gossman. Gossman darted back at Melrose before a perfectly timed offload put
Rob McAlpine through the defensive line. The home side tried to bring him down
but a massive hand-off was enough to spring him forward for the score. Scott
Lyle maintained his 100% strike rate to bring the scoring to 12-17.
After barely touching the ball in the second half Melrose’s
heart started to show and they mounted an attack in the last ten minutes which
almost mimicked the gut-wrenching closing stages of last year’s final. They’re
chance came with five minutes left to play when a penalty gifted Baggot a kick
to touch inside Ayr’s 22- but errors cost them again. A faulty throw in brought
to an end Melrose’s biggest opportunity of the half, and Ayr could enjoy
The final nail in the coffin came in the dying embers of the
match when a composed Scott Lyle slotted three more points to take the result away
from Melrose- this would conclude the scoring. After 12 rounds of rugby
dominance league leaders Melrose had been toppled by a familiar foe, Ayr took
The 2nd XV were in action at Old Anniesland
against Glasgow Hawks 2nd XV. The game swung like a pendulum with
neither side able to keep the other at more than arms left. In the end it was
Hawks who toughed it out 31-25 but Ayr picked up two big BP’s in the process.
Ayr’s 25 came from tries by James Pinkerton, James Armstrong, Lewis Young and
Jamie Bova. Armstrong also added five points from the boot.
Ayr RFC return to action this weekend with an away trip to the Greenyards to face current BT Premiership leaders Melrose.
The two sides are more than familiar with each other having clashed four times over the course of 2017. The most notable of the encounters was on the 15th of April where the two sides met at the Greenyards in the BT Premiership final. A gritty affair, neither side gave an inch on defence and the game went down to the wire. Ayr managed to hold onto a four point lead come crunch time, with a stolen line-out on our own five metres by Scott Sutherland securing a 12-8 victory.
The 2017/18 season so far has
gone in Melrose's favour, with the borders side yet to drop a point in 12 matches.
Ayr will take great confidence in some of their players returning from injury, with David Armstrong and Frazier Climo back in the starting line-up after time on the sidelines. George Hunter also returns and finds himself on the bench for Saturday's clash.
The game kicks-off at 2pm.
Ayr's starting line-up: 15. Grant Anderson 14. Paddy Dewhirst 13. Scott Lyle 12. Stafford McDowall 11. Craig Gossman 10. Frazier Climo 9. David Armstrong; 1. Robin Hislop 2. Robbie Smith 3. Steven Longwell 4. Blair Macpherson 5. Rob McAlpine 6. Tommy Spinks 7. George Stokes 8. Pete McCallum (C).
Substitutes: 16. Ruairidh Sayce 17. George Hunter 18. Jonathan Agnew 19. Harry Warr 20. Matt Davidson.
More closer to home Ayr's 2ndXV takes on Glasgow Hawk's 2ndXV at Old Anniesland.
The second XV starting line-up: 15. Ross Gilmore 14. Zac Howard 13. Sam Graham 12. Jamie Bova 11. Euan Hamilton 10. Sam Gray 9. Lewis Young; 1. Ben Paterson 2. Stuart Collier 3. Euan McLaren 4. Ross Arthur 5. Cameron Reece 6. Craig Brown 7. Seth Ray 8. Zander Howie.
Substitutes: 16. Bill Lyburn 17. William Chan 18. James Pinkerton
It wasn't quite the Christmas cracker everyone had been expecting as Ayr and Currie Chieftains toughed it out in the cold of Millbrae in round thirteen of the BT Premiership.
After two close, tense encounters between the sides earlier in the season, there was some hype around this match, and it was the visitors who held their nerve to get the win.
Ayr started well, with excellent breaks by captain Pete McCallum and fly-half Scott Lyle. The pitch was in good condition after a few dry, mild days in Alloway, and the players were enjoying a suitable surface to run around on.
The home side had a couple of early penalties, taking the line-out option twice. Hooker Robbie Smith found second row Robert McAlpine with ease, and on the second occasion, Ayr patiently drove until flanker George Stokes dotted down for the opening try. Lyle converted. 7-0.
The Chieftains had a real buzz about them, their scrum-half Charlie Shiel the chief mischief-maker. Ayr had their work cut out for them trying to contain him and centre Robbie Nelson, who seemed to power through the pink and black jerseys until Ayr centre Stafford McDowall brought him to a halt.
The game went a little topsy-turvy in the first quarter. Possession changed hands a few times thanks to poaching by Ayr in the loose, and then some wayward kicks by both teams. Ayr winger Craig Gossman kept a cool head to retrieve a Currie kick under pressure and put in a good clearance kick.
Gossman was saving Ayr's bacon again moments later when he and Smith put in a succession of hefty tackles to stop the visitors marauding their way to the try-line.
Ayr were soon down to fourteen men when full-back Grant Anderson was yellow-carded.
Currie became more combative with the man advantage, and Lyle and centre Paddy Dewhirst had to think quickly and work hard to keep the ball away from opposition hands.
McCallum, Stokes and fellow back-rower Tommy Spinks kept the Chieftains at bay when an attack led by full-back Jamie Forbes looked dangerous. But there was only so much Ayr could do when they ended up with thirteen men on the pitch after prop Steven Longwell joined Anderson in the sin bin.
Currie turned the screw at the scrum, and Shiel flew away with ball in hand for an inevitable try. Forbes converted. 7-7.
The men from Malleny were away again, taking advantage of those gaps in the Ayr defence, and it looked like they would power up the wing until Gossman and McDowall combined to bundle them into touch.
Ayr held on at the set-pieces and McCallum, Spinks, second row Blair Macpherson and prop Robin Hislop were working hard to keep Currie at bay until their team-mates returned from the sidelines. But there was just no stopping Nelson getting to the try-line. Forbes added the extras. 7-14.
The visitors started the second half in the same energetic manner, and Dewhirst, Macpherson, Smith and winger Sam Graham had to make crunching tackles to stop them.
They had flown up to Ayr's five-metre line, but the men in pink and black bullied them right back into their own half, with Gossman the architect of Currie's demise. Ayr then turned over, and McCallum charged up the wing with a look of utter determination on his face. It took three Chieftains to stop him. Sadly, he had nobody to pass to and Currie turned over.
Currie then kicked away possession, allowing Spinks to barrel about a bit, with Longwell and Gossman in support.
Ayr made some substitutions after scrum-half Lewis Young was flattened by a no-arms tackle. Winger Jamie Bova came on, with Anderson moving to scrum-half and Gossman going to full-back. Second row Scott Sutherland replaced Stokes, meaning Macpherson moved to the back row, and Ryan Grant took Hislop's place in the front row.
Sutherland was straight into the thick of the action, charging away from a penalty line-out. The ball was whipped across the pitch until Smith displayed a beautiful piece of handling to flick it to Dewhirst, but he ran out of space.
As the temperature dropped, the match heated up, and a scuffle broke out.
Currie delighted in winning a penalty at the Ayr scrum, but they weren't so happy when McCallum charged down their clearance kick after the line-out. The home captain was on their kicker in a flash and chased the ball but it bobbled out of play.
Another kick after a line-out from Currie was safely hoisted into the air but it landed right in the arms of the awaiting Graham, and he got it to Gossman, who sped off.
That move came to nothing, but Ayr had a penalty line-out in a good position and drove from it, with Smith grounding the ball for the try. Lyle's conversion unluckily glanced off the side of the post. 12-14.
Ayr fired into Currie again, Anderson foregoing his usual screeching of instructions at his team-mates to take the ball on himself and make for the try-line. In his desperation, he offloaded straight into Currie hands.
Dewhirst had shown grit and determination in the tackle, and one such effort cause the Chieftains to knock on. At the scrum, Ayr got the penalty and Lyle's monster boot pushed them deep into opposition territory for the line-out.
Anderson gathered a loose ball and got it to his namesake Lewis, who had replaced Smith. Graham, McDowall, Lyle and Grant moved play closer to the try-line, and McCallum went on one of his now customary blasts through the tacklers.
Currie were caught offside, and Ayr took the kick at goal. Unfortunately, it just slid past on the wrong side of the left upright.
Time was ticking away, but Ayr hadn't given up hope. Longwell suddenly appeared in midfield, the jocund prop galloping away in a frenzy of joy. It wasn't so joyous for the Currie tacklers he steam-rollered over the top of. Grant was in support but he was turned over.
Ayr brought on their last replacement, Jonathan Agnew, with minutes to go.
Currie had a penalty that got them a line-out in a plum position in Ayr's half, but in their haste to score another try, they flung the ball straight off the park. No matter as they had a kick at goal for the final play. It was well wide, but they didn't care as the whistle was blown to signal full-time.
Final score: Ayr 12 Currie Chieftains 14. Slaters Menswear man of the match: Steven Longwell. Ayr 2nd XV were up against it in their BT National Reserve 1 match with Currie Chieftains A. The visitors dominated much of the match, but Ayr showed true fighting spirit to claim a wonderful 18-17 win. Cameron Reece, Johnny McCorkindale and James Armstrong scored tries, and Armstrong's last kick at goal - a penalty - sealed the victory.
All photos courtesy of George McMillan. Please seek permission before reproducing images for commercial or journalistic purposes.