Sunday, 18 November 2012

Ayr 33 GHA 0

Ayr had twice the incentive to beat GHA on Saturday, as they looked to further their RBS West Regional Cup campaign and become the first team to get their name on the Bill McLaren Shield.

Luckily for all concerned, the rain stayed away from Millbrae and the sun even shone as the match kicked off at the earlier time of 12.30pm.  Despite Ayr being two leagues above their opponents, they weren't taking anything for granted and GHA spent much of the first ten minutes containing the current RBS Premiership table-toppers.

The home team had the first opportunity to get points on the board, with Finn Russell easily slotting over a penalty at ten minutes.  3-0.

With the dry weather, the Ayr backs were constantly sniffing out breaks, especially winger Craig Gossman who linked up well with centre Robbie Fergusson and young replacement back Danny McCluskey. 

However, GHA's smother defence, strength at the scrum and ambitious running proved tricky for the men in pink and black.  It wasn't until twenty minutes that Ayr got their first try after a great run from a quick take by Gossman and a slick pass to Fergusson who touched down.  Russell missed the conversion.  8-0.

Former Wales rugby league player and Scotland sevens man Hefin O'Hare put in a great performance for GHA, refusing to be laid low by Ayr's defence, even crawling along the pitch at one point.  He was backed all the way by fly-half Dominic Dunn, who spent most of the game bellowing at his team-mates.  It was to no avail though, as GHA began to feel the two-league gap.  Dunn soon found himself catapulted out of a ruck and a nasty knock saw flanker Paul Harkins substituted, thankfully leaving the field on his feet and not a stretcher as feared.

Ayr scored their second try at thirty-five minutes, after number eight Graham Fisken broke from the back of the scrum and lock Colin White tumbled over.  It wasn't Ayr's day with the boot, and Russell missed again.  13-0.

Five minutes later at the close of the first half, Ayr scored another, Fisken setting it up again and scrum-half Sylvain Diez crossing the line.  Russell hooked the conversion.  18-0.

The second half began at a canter, with GHA's clearance attempts charged down and Gossman pouncing for a try.  Diez took over the kicking duties, but couldn't convert.  23-0.

GHA stuck in there, with prop Stephen Spowart charging on, but almost as soon as Ayr got the ball back, it was into the hands of Gossman and he was off. 

GHA managed some turn-overs and winger Gordon Adams made a great break for the line but was undone by Ayr's efficient defence.  The visitors pulled the Ayr defenders side-to-side but found no way over the line.

It wasn't until sixty-one minutes that Ayr wrestled possession back and flanker and man-of-the-match Peter McCallum scored.  Replacement scrum-half Peter Jericevich missed the conversion.  28-0.

Jericevich was his usually nippy self, making a series of impressive breaks.  However, Ayr's indiscipline let them down and luckily for them, GHA were unable to take advantage. 

Jericevich's speed did pay off eventually, as he flew in for Ayr's final try just before full-time.  He couldn't convert his own score.  The final score was 33-0, and Ayr happily took the victory and the Bill McLaren Shield.

-Elena Hogarth

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