Ayr 25 Stirling County 13
Ayr got 2012 off to a flying start with a determined win over Stirling County. Four tries saw the Millbrae men achieve a bonus point and kick off their Premier A campaign in style.
The first ten minutes of proceedings saw Ayr and Stirling County match each other almost entirely. County had an early unsuccessful attempt at goal, which seemed to spur them on, as they found their way into Ayr’s half. The home side produced some thumping tackles as the visitors made for the line, but unfortunately nobody could hold off Stirling’s outside centre Danny Gilmour as he touched down for the first points of the match. Stuart Edwards slotted over the conversion to make the score 0-7 with ten minutes on the clock.
Ayr would not be bowed and replied with a try of their own at fourteen minutes. After a sustained period of attack from the backs, the forwards took over with flanker Robbie Calhoun the try-scorer. Robbie Fergusson unluckily missed the conversion, but Ayr were in touching distance of County at 5-7.
Ayr continued to press on in attack, with assured running and handling from winger Cammy Taylor and centre Ross Curle. Hooker Stuart Fenwick got in on the act too, with several dashes up the park, ball in hand. A strong defence from County meant that possession couldn’t be turned into points.
Referee Gary Gordon had previously spoken to Stirling for slowing down the ball and at twenty-four minutes lost patience and sent second row Robert McAlpine to the sin bin. Ayr were granted a penalty and Fergusson was successful with his second attempt at goal, nudging the home side into the lead at 8-7.
A series of turnovers for both teams followed some doughty play in attack from County, but Ayr were on top for the remainder of the half. Breaks from scrum-half AJ McFarlane, full-back Grant Anderson and number eight John Willis gave the crowd plenty to cheer about. County’s well organised defence, however, meant that the score didn’t change before half-time.
Ayr’s roving play continued in the second half but Stirling County hadn’t thrown in the towel just yet. Two penalties helped their cause, with Edwards successfully kicking the first but missing the second. At ten minutes into the half, the score was 8-10. This seemed to give the men in pink and black the impetus to attack, and at twelve minutes, Anderson crossed for a much-needed try. Fergusson was unsuccessful with the conversion, but Ayr had nosed ahead 13-10.
County soon levelled things with a penalty from Edwards and the score board stayed at 13-13 for the next fifteen minutes. Ayr were reduced to fourteen men when replacement hooker Hayden Wisnewski was yellow carded, but even so they proved to be tenacious in defence. At twenty-six minutes, County looked to have forced their way over the line but Ayr managed to hold them up.
A great catch and run from replacement Andy Wilson and another sprint up the wing from Taylor restored Ayr’s confidence and Fergusson crossed for a try at thirty-one minutes. With a missed conversion, the scoreboard read 18-13.
Ayr spent the remaining ten minutes of the game encamped in Stirling County’s half. Pressure from the home side led to several scrums on County’s line and the defending team were penalised several times for infringements at the set piece. As time ran out and it looked like Ayr replacement scrum-half Murray McConnell would grab their fourth try, the referee granted a penalty try, which Fergusson duly converted. The final score was Ayr 25 Stirling County 13.
– Eléna Hogarth