Saturday, 31 March 2012

Ayr battle into RBS Cup final

Ayr 30 Boroughmuir 25

There’s something about Ayr and the Scottish Cup.  No matter what has come before – in this case, a hugely disappointing loss to Gala last week – the men in pink and black always manage to lift their game for the Cup.  It was no different on Saturday afternoon, as they took on Boroughmuir to book a place in the final at Murrayfield.

Despite an excellent take by Boroughmuir at the kick-off, it was Ayr who started better, nosing ahead with a penalty after two minutes.  Robbie Fergusson’s kick got the scoreboard going at 3-0. 
Ayr certainly seemed the more forceful side, with backs and forwards attempting to burst through the Boroughmuir defence.  A sustained period of pick-and-go came to nothing though, as the Meggatland team were just too doughty on their own line.

Ayr’s outside centre Ross Curle and right winger Andy Wilson got their hands on the ball and combined well to move play up the park.  Another kickable penalty followed at eleven minutes, Fergusson again being successful and making the scores 6-0.  The crowd only had to wait a minute before Curle shot over the line for the first try.  Fergusson converted for a 13-0 lead.

Boroughmuir got themselves on the scoreboard soon after, with Ally Warnock kicking a penalty, to make it 13-3.  Their roving play soon brought more points, as inside centre Stevie Wilson appeared on the wing and touched down for a try.  Warnock couldn’t convert to take the scores beyond 13-8.

Ayr kept up the pressure, with a charge down from back row replacement Andy Dunlop and a great foray up the wing from Wilson.  However, it was hooker Stuart Fenwick who crossed the line for Ayr’s second try, just sneaking in at the corner.  Fergusson missed the tricky conversion from the touchline, but Ayr still led 18-8.

Just as the crowd were beginning to relax, Boroughmuir came storming back, with a try from flanker Alex Henderson, converted by Warnock.  At 18-15, the men in blue and green were creeping closer.  Wilson again pinned his ears back on the wing, but lost the ball in a ferocious tackle.  Returning captain Mark Stewart also looked to be breaking away when crossing was deemed to have occurred.  A high tackle just before half-time gave Boroughmuir another shot at goal, which Warnock successfully took, making the scores 18-18.

Composure was needed from both teams as the second half began.  Ayr were instantly in their opponents’ half thanks to a beauty of a kick from Fergusson and planned on staying there.  An excellent drive from the pack had the crowding roaring, but it was Fergusson’s chip for Curle that had them on their feet.  Alas, it was a Boroughmuir hand that got to it first as it bobbled over the try line.

Boroughmuir’s scrum-half Sam Johnson made an excellent break to take the action right up to Ayr’s try line, but some terrific defence and scavenging from the home side led to a turn-over and a kick from lock Colin White that any back would be proud of.

At fifty-four minutes, Ayr’s third try came from the ever-popular Zimbabwean prop Denford Mutamangira, who received raucous applause from the fans when he was substituted shortly after burrowing over the line.  Fergusson converted to make the scores 25-18.  Fergusson had another shot at goal soon after, but missed the penalty kick.

Yet again, Boroughmuir refused to be bowed, which is perhaps what led to the horrible-looking high tackle on replacement scrum-half AJ Macfarlane.  Despite the crowd’s calls for a yellow card, no-one was sent to the bin.  The incident seemed to unsettle Ayr, as they missed their kick for touch. 

Shortly after, Boroughmuir’s giant Dutch winger Sep Visser (brother of Edinburgh’s giant Dutch winger Tim) appeared out of nowhere and almost ran the length of the pitch for a superb individual try.  Warnock’s conversion levelled the scores at 25-25.

With ten minutes to go, Ayr worked their way slowly and surely back into Boroughmuir’s half.  After some rumblings at the corner and a conference between referee and linesman, Andy Dunlop was judged to have scored a try.  It went unconverted, but Ayr were back in the lead at 30-25.

Boroughmuir and Visser were not done yet, with the powerful winger once again making for the try line.  Only a brilliant covering tackle from White stopped him.  It seemed like the whistle would never be blown, but Ayr kept ball in hand and it was finally booted on to the stand roof which was duly raised by the Millbrae fans as their team grabbed their place in the RBS Cup final for the third year in a row.  Final score, Ayr 30 Boroughmuir 25.

- Eléna Hogarth

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