Sunday, 8 April 2012

Ayr v Aberdeen match report

Ayr 44 Aberdeen 22

If anyone was expecting Ayr’s last league game of the season to be a damp squib after the excitement of their Cup semi-final triumph, they would have been in for a surprise on Saturday afternoon at Millbrae.  Facing Aberdeen in a game postponed from January, Ayr were determined to finish on a high – and they did.

It was Aberdeen who drew first blood, with a penalty at four minutes kicked by fly-half Rob Aloe.  The scores remained at 0-3 for quite some time as both teams went through set pieces and phases of possession.  The boot of Ayr youngster Robbie Fergusson pushed play up into the opposition half, where Rob Colhoun bundled his way over the try line for Ayr’s first score at fifteen minutes.  Fergusson, though, couldn’t get the conversion from a tricky angle on the touchline, but Ayr still led 5-3.

Ayr were keen to stretch their legs and full-back Grant Anderson showed off some nifty footwork, as did busy scrum-half AJ Macfarlane, who was constantly looking to make a break.  Colhoun was hungry for more tries and after another solid line-out and drive, appeared at the bottom of the pile-up with the ball over the line.  Fergusson made the conversion, taking the scores to 12-3 at the close of the first quarter.

The home side managed to upset the visitors in both scrums and line-outs, and backs and forwards combined to produce some entertaining running rugby.  Again, Colhoun was in the thick of it and got his hat-trick with a try from yet another good line-out.  Fergusson’s conversion this time hit the post, but Ayr extended their lead to 17-3.

Three minutes later and winger Cammy Taylor decided Colhoun couldn’t have all the fun.  Motoring up the wing, he had to stretch his full 5’ 7” to get the ball over the whitewash.  It wasn’t Fergusson’s day with place kicks, and he missed the conversion to keep the scores at 22-3.

The close of the first-half saw Ayr’s forwards bashing their way about the pitch with ball in hand.  Number eight Andy Dunlop did some excellent work at the breakdown to give Macfarlane and Fergusson another chance to chip and chase, only for the ball to bobble into touch.

Their tails up, the men in pink and black began the second half in impressive fashion.  Within two minutes of the re-start, outside centre Richard Dalgleish grabbed Ayr’s fifth try.  With Fergusson’s successful conversion, the scores stood at 29-3 – but not for long.  Inside centre and captain Mark Stewart didn’t want his young cohort stealing the limelight and two minutes later, touched down for Ayr’s sixth try.  The missed conversion made the scores 34-3.

Aberdeen were down but not out, with winger Grant Walker getting their first try.  Aloe caught the conversion disease and missed his kick, keeping the score board at 34-8.  Possession then went back and forth for the next ten minutes until Aberdeen struck again, this time full-back Steven Aitken getting the try and Aloe the conversion to bring the scores to 34-15.

Ayr cranked up the pressure, with Fergusson and fellow teenager Danny McCluskey making terrific breaks.  At twenty-three minutes, replacement hooker Hayden Wisnewski got Ayr’s seventh try, after burrowing over in the corner.  Fergusson was again faced with a conversion from the touchline and couldn’t curl his kick in. 

At 39-15, neither team was about to take their foot off the gas, leading to knocks-on from both sides.  Aberdeen remained calm, however, and scrum-half Morgan Ward jinked in under the posts for their third try after a scintillating break from winger Mark Oatey.  Aloe’s conversion took the scores to 39-22.

Ayr had to have the last laugh though, with Taylor flying in for his second try and Ayr’s eighth.  McCluskey was given the unenviable task of trying to convert it from an extreme angle and nobody could blame him for missing. 

With everyone playing his part, naming man of the match was a tough decision.  Despite Fergusson’s excellent bossing of the game and Colhoun’s hat-trick, the award went to fan favourite Denford Mutamangira for his veritable brick wall performance.  The final score: Ayr 44 Aberdeen 22.

- Eléna Hogarth

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