Sunday, 29 December 2013

Champions train in the wildest conditions!

Ayr U16s and U18s (both recently-crowned National League Champions) joined the 2nd and 1st XV players in the festive training session yesterday on the old racecourse.  The only thing which wasn't festive was the weather and the players braved the elements, all of them, as they were put through their paces.  Good effort everyone and there was a sizeable crowd watching the madness too.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Vote for December player of the month


The player of the month poll for December 2013 is now open, so get voting to give your favourite player a belated Christmas present!

Ayr first XV have played three matches this month and all players listed on the poll have featured in at least one, if not all, of them.  December started with a rousing win over Ulster Ravens in the British and Irish Cup, but the second leg in Belfast brought Ayr back down to earth.  The men in pink and black bounced back with a five-try victory over Aberdeen GSFP to end a brilliant year for the club.

The poll is open for the next five days.  You can only vote once.  The winner will be announced on Hogmanay.

Vote here.




Sunday, 22 December 2013

Ayr 32 Aberdeen Grammar 14

Ayr scored five tries to Aberdeen Grammar's two at a dreich Millbrae on Saturday to give a little Christmas cheer to their faithful fans who had braved the wind and rain to cheer on the men in pink and black.

The weather had calmed down somewhat as the match kicked off and both sides seemed to fancy a bit of fast-paced rugby.  But it was the visitors who sensibly kept the ball in the forwards and at eight minutes, a powerful drive from a line-out resulted in number eight Tom Preece going over for a try.  Stand-off Sam Knudson kicked the conversion.  0-7.

Ayr pressed on with strong runs from lock Callum Templeton and flanker Graham Fisken, but Grammar put in some very tough tackles to prevent them making much ground.

It wasn't until fourteen minutes that Ayr managed to get into a good attacking position and, after a deft take at the line-out from flanker Andrew Dunlop, number eight Peter McCallum barrelled over for the home side's first try.  Stand-off Ross Curle added the extras.  7-7.

It was another good performance from Ayr scrum-half Murray McConnell, who, as well as marshalling his men, made some excellent kicks for touch.  Three minutes after McCallum's try, McConnell got his troops back into Grammar's half and the forwards began a slow drive to the line.  It was prop George Hunter who trundled over for Ayr's second try.  Curle missed the wide conversion.  12-7.

The rain started lashing down but that didn't quell Ayr's ambition, or Grammar's.  Knudson was itching to get away but the home defence was on to him, despite the surface now getting very slippery.  Grammar's defenders returned the favour when Ayr captain Grant Anderson made a lovely break.

It looked at this stage that the visitors could catch up with Ayr but a few aimless kicks and handling errors let them down and they couldn't contain McCallum and Hunter, who continued to be on lively form.

At twenty-seven minutes, outside centre Robbie Fergusson ignored the ensuing quagmire and chipped up the wing for himself and winger Richard Dalgleish to chase.  Fergusson flew straight past the Grammar defenders, neatly gathered and dived over for a try.  Again, the angle was too wide for Curle to convert.  17-7.

A minute later and Fergusson tried the same trick but the ball bobbled into touch.  No matter, as Hunter quickly got the ball from a line-out and once again forced his way over for a try.  Curle got the conversion this time.  24-7.

Grammar weren't disheartened, however, and put Ayr under enormous pressure at the scrum.  Their line-out functioned better than it had done in the first quarter, but despite having two in Ayr's 22, they couldn't get near the line. 

The next score was courtesy of the referee, who awarded Aberdeen a penalty try at thirty-six minutes after Ayr's repeated infringements at the scrum.  Knudson got the conversion.  24-14.

However, the visitors couldn't push on, giving away a penalty in a kickable position for being off-side.  It was a tricky angle, but Curle managed it.  27-14.

With six tries in the first half, the crowd was expecting more of the same in the second, but the game dipped as both sides slid about in the mud. 

Knocks-on, slips and pointless kicks did nothing to help either team and although Ayr had plenty of territory, they couldn't get anywhere near Grammar's tryline. 

It wasn't until sixty-eight minutes that replacement scrum-half Peter Jericevich burrowed his way over for the final try of the match.  Curle missed the conversion.  32-14.

Aberdeen Grammar gave it one last shot with inside centre Harry Duthie almost breaking through.  Their efforts were boosted when Ayr were reduced to fourteen men after inside centre Dean Kelbrick was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle.  A scrum on Ayr's five-metre line was promising but a huge shove from the hosts caused Grammar to knock-on.

Again, the visitors applied pressure but the likes of Fisken and replacement prop Nick Cox put in some crunching tackles and Ayr managed a turn-over, Templeton's long legs allowing him to gallop off for the last piece of exciting play in the match.

Final score: Ayr 32 Aberdeen Grammar 14.  Man of the match: George Hunter.


- Elena Hogarth.


Finn signs with Glasgow Warriors

Ayr's talented young stand-off Finn Russell has signed a two-year deal with Glasgow Warriors after coming up through the Elite Development Programme.  As well as impressing for Ayr, Finn has also caught the eye playing for Lincoln University in New Zealand over the summer when on the McPhail Scholarship.

A huge congratulations to Finn!  Read the full story here.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Youngsters at U16s training camp

The age-grades are reaping the rewards of a successful season, with Ayr players Michael Manning, Gregor Paxton and Aaron Tait being named in the Scotland under-16s training camp.  The trio will spend the day at Lochinch Rugby Club in Glasgow next Sunday training with forty other talented youngsters from across the country.

Read the full story here.

Also, on Friday night, Ayr's Jack Preston and Lewis Anderson played for Glasgow Warriors under-18s in their 12-3 victory over their Edinburgh counterparts, with Anderson captaining the side.

2nds face Aberdeen

With the disappointment of last week's cancelled game against Gala behind us, it is back to business this week as Aberdeen head to Millbrae for a 2pm kick off.

A result last week would have gone some way to see the team push for the top spot in the league had we been successful.

Anyone of the top four - Hawks, Ayr, Gala and Edinburgh Accies - could still secure this tight league dependant on results going the right way for them.  The team this week sees little change to last week with Denford Mutamangira and Stuart Fenwick stepping into the front row and captain Colin Dunn making a welcome return at number eight.

So before taking in the 1st XV big match, get onto the touchline and support the future of the club.  Hopefully Santa gives us all an early Christmas present.

Finally, on a personal note it was with some sadness the team learnt recently of the death of Keith Hunter's (Nuggers) mother, a lovely lady who always had a smile.  great supporter of the team when I last visited Ayr and coached the 2XV, she was always to be found on the touchline in all weathers supporting Keith and the lads.  We all extend our deepest sympathy to Keith and his father at this sad time.

- Jim Henderson, 2nd XV coach

Ayr v Aberdeen Grammar preview

Ayr welcome Aberdeen Grammar to Millbrae for the last match of 2013.  It's certainly been a year to remember and the team will want to make this final match just as memorable for their faithful fans after an up-and-down few months.

"Our players will be desperate to get into the action in what will be our twenty-first game in a row since pre-season began," says Ayr head coach Peter Laverie.  "One of our goals is always a top-three finish and with difficult ties for those above us still to be played, who knows what might yet happen in this very competitive league."

Laverie knows the opposition will be out to spoil the festive cheer in Alloway.

"Aberdeen travel down for this all-important fixture looking for valuable league points so they will be up for it, to be sure.  Tomorrow will be a hard-fought affair and we will have to concentrate and work hard to ensure a victory."

There are some changes to the squad this week, with Finn Russell on the bench for Glasgow Warriors in their match against Treviso tonight.  His place at stand-off is taken by the mercurial Ross Curle, with Murray McConnell at scrum-half.  Dean Kelbrick returns at inside centre.

In the forwards, Scott Sutherland is in the second row alongside Callum Templeton after overcoming an injury and Graham Fisken links up with Andrew Dunlop and Peter McCallum to form a speedy back row.

Young front row player James Malcolm is named on the bench following several months out with a broken wrist.

Team:

15. Grant Anderson (capt.), 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick, 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. Ross Curle, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. George Hunter, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. D'arcy Rae; 4. Callum Templeton, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Graham Fisken, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Peter McCallum.

Replacements:

16. James Malcolm, 17. Nick Cox, 18. Graham Williamson, 19. Peter Jericevich, 20. Craig Gossman.

Kick-off 3pm.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at Ayr RFC!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Ayr duo in U20s camp

Two Ayr players have been named in the Scotland under-20s squad that will take part in a training camp in January.

Props James Malcolm and D'arcy Rae join thirty-four other young Scots, including former Ayr player Gavin Lowe, as they begin their preparations for the under-20s Six Nations and the IRB Junior World Championship.

Read the full story here.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Eight Ayr players in Club International squad


The squad for Scotland's upcoming Club International fixtures was announced today, with eight Ayr players included.

Props Nick Cox and George Hunter, hooker Fergus Scott, second row Callum Templeton, scrum-half Peter Jericevich, stand-off Finn Russell, centre Dean Kelbrick and winger Craig Gossman are the pink and black representatives in a group that includes players from nine RBS Premiership sides.

Gossman lit up Scotland's victory over their Irish club counterparts at Millbrae last season.  Fingers crossed he and his Ayr team-mates get the chance to do the same this year.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Ulster Ravens v Ayr preview

It was a fantastic win for Ayr last week against Ulster Ravens at Millbrae, and the men in pink and black will be hoping to put in another big performance in their return leg at Deramore on Friday night. 

Although Ayr head coach Peter Laverie is looking forward to his players taking on the Ravens again, he's well aware of the threat the Ulstermen pose.

"We are under no illusion about the task ahead.  Ulster will be desperate to make amends in front of their home crowd and keep their British and Irish Cup qualification hopes alive, so nothing short of our best efforts will do."

He adds: "This competition is great for the players; they really get to challenge themselves and it raises standards for everyone involved.  We have our goals: a good performance is essential before the return to league business next week and of course to give our own loyal support something to cheer about."

There are some significant changes in the backs this week, with players moving position.  Finn Russell starts at inside centre to make way for his Glasgow Warriors team-mate Scott Wight at stand-off, meaning Ross Curle moves to the wing.

In the forwards, the young front row of George Hunter, Fergus Scott and D'arcy Rae continues after a solid showing last week.  Graham Williamson comes into the second row in place of the injured Scott Sutherland.  Glasgow Warriors' James Eddie is once more part of a dynamic back row.

It's a strong bench yet again, with the fleet-of-foot Finlay Gillies covering hooker.  Gordon Reid missed last Saturday's game after getting stuck at Bristol airport with Glasgow Warriors, but is a replacement prop this week alongside a returning Denford Mutamangira.  Electric winger Craig Gossman is also back from injury, taking his place amongst the substitutes with his brother Kerr.


Team:

15. Grant Anderson (capt.), 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Finn Russell, 11. Ross Curle; 10. Scott Wight, 9. Peter Jericevich; 1. George Hunter, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. D'arcy Rae; 4. Callum Templeton, 5. Graham Williamson; 6. James Eddie, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Peter McCallum.

Replacements:

16. Finlay Gillies, 17. Gordon Reid, 18. Denford Mutamangira, 19. Benn Cogley, 20. Murray McConnell, 21. Kerr Gossman, 22. Craig Gossman.

Kick-off 7.30pm.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Grant Anderson in today's Herald

Ayr captain Grant Anderson talks the B&I Cup, the league and the road to Murrayfield with Neil Drysdale in the sports section of today's Herald.

Read the article here.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Support the 2nds on Saturday

Ayr's 2nd XV have a crunch match against their Gala counterparts on Saturday at Millbrae, kicking off at 2pm.  A hard-fought 23-19 win over Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place at the weekend has put them in a good position in the league.

After a first half best forgotten and with Ayr trailing 3-12 to Accies, it looked like any hopes of chasing the league title was slowly slipping from their grasp.

Half-time saw a team talk that had the Stockbridge residents cringing at the language used, with it being more akin to a disturbance associated with an altercation in a Glasgow street on a Friday night.  It did the trick, however, and saw the young charges enter the fray as though their lives depended on it and come away with a victory plus the crucial bonus point.

With the 2nds lying second in the league and chasing Hawks at the top, this week's game at Millbrae against Gala, who are one point behind Ayr, is sure to be another tasty contest.

So if you have done the Christmas shopping or just want to see what the future holds at the club, come along and support the team this weekend in what should be a deciding game.

- Jim Henderson, 2nd XV coach.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

U16s national league champions


Ayr under-16s beat a tough Falkirk side at Sunnyside Park on Sunday to become the national under-16s league champions.  The youngsters were undefeated throughout their campaign.

The trophy was presented by SRU president Donald McLeod. 

It's a tremendous achievement for the young men in pink and black.  Congratulations to all the players and coaches.


Ayr 41 Ulster Ravens 22

It might be the Ulster 'A' side who have the ornithological nickname, but it was Ayr who spread their wings and flew through an exciting eighty minutes of British and Irish Cup action at a muddy Millbrae yesterday.

Coming on the back of three defeats in a row in the RBS Premiership, the home side were looking for a morale-boosting display and from the whistle, it didn't look like they were going to achieve it. 

Ravens quickly gathered the ball and fired it to outside centre Stuart McCloskey, who skipped his way through the Ayr defenders and before anyone knew it, had raced up the wing to score with barely a minute on the clock. James McKinney added the conversion.  0-7.

Ayr refocussed and got the upper hand at the line-out, stealing Ravens ball, and held their own at the scrum.  Winger Richard Dalgleish displayed some fancy footwork early on and scrum-half Murray McConnell showed great strength to fend off tackles from Ulster academy players Jonny Murphy and Kyle McCall and bash his way out of his own half.

Centres Ross Curle and Robbie Fergusson combined to move the ball quickly up the park, finding flanker James Eddie who almost reached the tryline, dragging two Ravens tacklers along behind him before they could bring him down.  They kept the attack going and moved the ball left to find stand-off Finn Russell who dived over for their opening try, which he also converted.  7-7.

Peter McCallum showed just why he had been voted Ayr's player of the month for November, his catch from the restart just one example of his all-round skill.  It allowed Russell to release Scotland 7s cap Byron McGuigan to launch his first proper attack, which eventually came to nothing when he ran out of space on the wing.

Russell and McGuigan were involved a few minutes later when, along with Curle and Fergusson, they got the ball to within centimetres of the Ravens line.  The visitors' strong defence held out for a few phases, but flanker Andrew Dunlop burrowed his way over for Ayr's second try.  Russell's conversion was wide.  12-7.

McGuigan and Fergusson were putting in some big hits, as well as confounding Ravens with their mazy running.  Prop George Hunter put in a good shift with some much needed turnovers and solid tackles and Scott Sutherland was yet again Mr Reliable in the line-out before he limped off to be replaced by Graham Williamson.

Ayr's confidence, typified by some cheeky interplay between Russell and Fergusson, seemed to rattle Ravens, but the presence of Grand Slam winner Paddy Wallace, captaining the side at outside centre, steadied the visitors. 

Man-of-the-match McConnell was spotting holes in Ravens' defence and providing his attackers with swift ball, but Fergusson, along with full-back and captain Grant Anderson, couldn't find a way through, as Wallace and McCloskey closed the gaps.

It was Ravens' infringement at the scrum that gave Ayr their next chance for points and Russell kicked a penalty with five minutes to go in the first half.  15-7.

A few minutes later and Ravens replied with a penalty by McKinney.  15-10.

A charge-down by Ayr hooker Fergus Scott further frustrated the Northern Irish side and they must have breathed a sigh of relief when half-time came.

The Ulster men returned to the now churned-up turf with a spring in their step in the second half and a fumble on his own tryline from Fergusson almost let Ravens' replacement back David Busby touch down for a score, but Ayr's young centre managed to shove him off the pitch.

Ravens' full-back Ricky Andrew was leading the charge and only a tough tackle from Glasgow Warriors' hooker Finlay Gillies, making his first appearance for Ayr as a substitute, stopped him doing any real damage.

However, the Ravens' tails were up and they displayed great patience and fortitude to get flanker Conor Joyce over for a try at forty-seven minutes.  McKinney missed the conversion.  15-15.

It was at this point that Ravens could have pulled away, but Ayr wouldn't let them.  Gillies surprised everyone by deftly kicking on and when the visitors sent it back, the ball went straight into the arms of his fellow Warrior Scott Wight, who had come off the bench for Ayr a few minutes before.  He moved it out wide to reach the hands of Curle, who motored in behind the posts for a try.  Russell got the extras.  22-15.

Five minutes later, Wight and Curle were causing trouble for Ravens again, pushing play right up to the five-metre line.  Hunter somehow emerged from the huge muddy pile of bodies to go over for his first try of the season and Ayr's fourth of the game.  Russell's conversion just floated over the crossbar.  29-15.

By now, the Millbrae crowd was reaching its rowdy peak and as the fans got fired up, so did the players, perhaps a bit too much.  Although they secured another turnover, they knocked on a couple of times, as did Ravens. 

With the visitors getting a scrum on their own five-metre line, Ayr saw the perfect opportunity to mess it up and it was terrier-like McConnell who snapped at the ankles of number eight Adrian Hamilton to get the ball.  A few moments later and Curle had got it to touch down out wide for his second try.  Russell's conversion was short.  34-15.

Ravens weren't done yet, however.  Winger Peter Nelson combined with full-back Andrew to allow replacement Adam Liddell to go over for a try.  McKinney got the conversion.  34-22.

Ayr decided that attack was the best form of defence and although the vistors were pressing for more points, Wight, McGuigan, Scott, replacement scrum-half Peter Jericevich and winger Kerr Gossman, who came off the bench for Dalgleish, were keen to stretch their legs.

When they did have to defend, they were dogged, not allowing Ravens to leave their own half.  Stuart Fenwick, on for prop D'arcy Rae, led the way with an excellent turnover.  A scrum for each side followed, but it was a line-out that allowed Ayr to have the final say.  A good catch from Eddie set up a strong drive and Hunter went over for his second and Ayr's sixth try.  Russell converted.  41-22.

Time was up and after applauding their opponents into the clubhouse, the men in pink and black returned to the field for a post-match huddle to mull over a spirited team performance.

Final score: Ayr 41 Ulster Ravens 22.


- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Ireland's Paddy Wallace to captain Ulster Ravens

Paddy Wallace will be returning to the field with the Ulster Ravens against Ayr in the third game of this season’s British and Irish Cup.  This will be the first match that Paddy has played in nine months due to a knee injury that he sustained against Glasgow Warriors in the RaboDirect PRO12 in February, resulting in him missing the rest of last season. 

Paddy you maybe thought you would never be back in an Ulster jersey after your injury?
PW: It’s really nice to be involved again in a match week, albeit with the A team, and I’m excited about getting back and playing again.  You obviously doubt whether you would get back to this point and there’s doubt on whether your knee would hold up after the serious injury that I had or whether I could play rugby at a professional level again.  Training has been going very well for the last few weeks and I’m just excited about getting into match training week as a player again.

How difficult have the last nine months been?
PW: It is frustrating when you get the injury and you know your timelines but you get on with it and get the head down and work hard. You know what’s ahead and you know all the work that needs done. What I did was set myself short term attainable goals, and every time you make those goals you feel that you’re achieving something and you can move onto the next one rather than looking at nine months down the road as it seems too long looking at it from that perspective.

Have you ever played at Ayr before?
PW: I’ve been waiting to play there for 15 years!  It’s nice to get a game at a level that I’m hopefully not out of my depth at too early.  Hopefully, I can play my way into the game and just feel comfortable playing rugby again and this may not be a bad level to start at.

You feel that you still have plenty to offer Ulster over the next couple of seasons?
PW: Yes, I would like to think so.  I thought I had been playing some of my better rugby over the last couple of seasons and hopefully I can get back to the level I was at before I got injured.  There’s plenty of competition and plenty of guys that are playing at a level that requires them to be away on international duty so hopefully there will be opportunities for players like myself that can offer a bit of experience and you just have to be ready when you have your number called that you are ready to play at a level.  I have goals still to reach within Ulster and that’s what’s driving me forward to come back from this injury and play.

With thanks to Ulster Rugby Communications Manager Neil Brittain.

Ayr v Ulster Ravens preview

Ayr welcome Ulster Ravens to Millbrae tomorrow for the British and Irish Cup, and the home team will have some Glasgow Warriors boosting the ranks.
 
It's been a tough few weeks in the RBS Premiership for the men in pink and black, but the B&I Cup is a different challenge for the players to get their teeth into, and Ayr head coach Peter Laverie is appreciative of that.
 
"The benefits from games like these are: testing yourself against full-time opposition, raising your skill standards and developing a higher physical intensity, as well as game speed," he says.  "It also gives the team a real thrill to have a crack at some of the big teams."
 
It's sure to be an exciting day all round, with a big home crowd, 150 people at the Farmers' Day pre-match lunch and the cameras from Sky Sports catching it all, as well as Ireland international Paddy Wallace expected to take to the field for Ulster Ravens as part of his comeback from a long-term knee injury.
 
"It's all great for the club game and what an incentive to perform for our players. Hopefully the weather will be kind enough to have an open game of entertaining rugby," Laverie concludes.
With the B&I Cup allowing two more players in the replacements, and the inclusion of the Warriors, there are some notable changes to this week's line-up.  Namibian-born Scotland 7s cap Byron McGuigan starts on the left wing, with Richard Dalgleish on the right.
 
In the forwards, flanker James Eddie is also released by Glasgow Warriors to make another welcome start in pink and black this season.  Ayr's November player of the month Peter McCallum moves to number eight, meaning Callum Templeton partners Scott Sutherland in the second row.
 
Former Millbrae man, and firm Ayr favourite, Gordon Reid gets his first chance to play for his old club this season, as he takes his place on a very strong bench with fellow Warriors Finlay Gillies and Scott Wight.
 

 
Team:
15. Grant Anderson (capt.), 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Ross Curle, 12. Robbie Fergusson, 11. Byron McGuigan; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. George Hunter, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. D'arcy Rae; 4. Callum Templeton, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. James Eddie, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Peter McCallum.
 
Replacements:
16. Finlay Gillies, 17. Gordon Reid, 18. Nick Cox, 19. Graham Williamson, 20. Peter Jericevich, 21. Scott Wight, 22. Kerr Gossman.
 
Please note the earlier kick-off of 2.30pm.
 


Monday, 2 December 2013

Vote for your November player of the month





It's time to vote for your Ayr first XV player of month.  November has been a difficult month on the pitch with results not going the way anyone wanted, but there's no doubt the players give their all and you can pick your favourite man in pink and black from those who have featured in the match day squad for the last five games.

The poll closes on Thursday morning, so get voting!

Vote here.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Ayr 5 Heriot's 17


It was a subdued Millbrae crowd who watched a tame Ayr side go down to Heriot's on a cold, dull afternoon yesterday. 

The visitors had managed to pip Ayr to the post by one point when they had played at Goldenacre earlier in the season and another close game was expected.  But Heriot's stamped their authority on the match from the get-go and Ayr could do nothing to get into it.

The opening proceedings were fairly even between the two sides, with each having possession and looking to launch attacks through the backs.  But it was Heriot's who had the spring in their step and inside centre Cameron Ferguson broke through the Ayr defence to release winger Max Nimmo for a try under the posts at eight minutes.  Scrum-half Graham Wilson converted.  0-7.

Ayr hooker Fergus Scott was in a lively mood all afternoon and he tidied up a scrappy line-out to burst through the Heriot's defenders and start the home side's first properly threatening attack.  The ball was quickly moved through the backs until it found full-back and captain Grant Anderson, but he was bundled into touch.

With Ayr's Peter Jericevich making his first start of the season at stand-off, there were effectively two scrum-halves on the pitch and this certainly speeded up the passing, but Heriot's defenders were all over the backs and Ayr could barely breach the 22.
Heriot's Nimmo and his fellow winger Liam Steele were rock solid in defence, as well as itching for any opportunity to break, Steele chipping on but finding no way through.  Another kick from Heriot's was charged down by Ayr winger Kerr Gossman and nicely collected by second row Scott Sutherland, who passed to inside centre Robbie Fergusson, but again, they got nowhere.
 
The game descended into the dreaded aerial ping-pong, as both teams seemed unsure what to do with the ball and aimlessly kicked it back and forth. 
 
When Heriot's finally decided to keep the ball in hand, they were penalised for holding on and Ayr outside centre Ross Curle made a lovely kick for touch, giving the Millbrae men an excellent position in which to attack from the line-out.  Prop Nick Cox made for the line only for the referee to adjudge that he had been held up.
 
It all went wrong for Ayr after that, with a handling error from Anderson on his own line allowing Nimmo to pounce on the loose ball for his second try at thirty minutes.  Wilson got the conversion from out wide.  0-14.
 
Ayr tried to get keep their heads, although Jericevich seemed to have his squeezed by a Heriot's defender in a high tackle.  But Ayr had the penalty reversed when flanker Andrew Dunlop saw red and tipped a Heriot's man off the pitch, causing referee David Changleng to bring out the yellow card with a few minutes to go in the first half.
 
Ayr can be commended for not leaking any points when down to fourteen men, with winger Craig Gossman once again putting in tackles with belie his stature.
 
Things were looking up in the second half for Ayr with Finn Russell coming on at stand-off and his presence seemed to steady the ship, defensively at least, as he closed down more than one Heriot's attack.

Ayr number eight Graham Fisken and Dunlop, when he returned from the sin bin, made breaks but they were unsupported and Heriot's turned over.

Wilson had his first kickable penalty at fifty minutes but the ball sailed wide of the posts. 

Ayr were getting shoved about in the scrum but were still managing to get the ball away to the backs.  It was just the last ten metres to the tryline that the Gossman brothers couldn't make.  It was through no fault of their own but thanks to the Heriot's defenders who were swarming all over them.

With the crowd roaring that the visitors were off-side on several occasions, it was the home team who were penalised for it at fifty-nine minutes and Wilson got the ball over the crossbar this time.  0-17.

The men in pink and black weren't about to end the match scoreless as the final fifteen minutes loomed.  Anderson used his trademark strong running to evade the Heriot's defence and cross for a much-needed try.  Russell couldn't make the wide conversion.  5-17.

The Millbrae faithful always believe, but it became quite clear that their players weren't going to be able to mount a comeback.  Despite attacks from Curle and Fergusson and a cross-field kick from Russell for Craig Gossman to catch - which he did, only for him to be pushed into touch - Ayr could get no more points.

Final score: Ayr 5 Heriot's 17.


- Elena Hogarth.
 





Friday, 29 November 2013

Ayr v Heriot's preview

Ayr are at home again this week and welcome Heriot's to Millbrae for another vital match in the RBS Premiership.  The disappointment from last Saturday's loss to Gala has been dealt with and attention now turns to putting in a strong performance against the Goldenacre side who are one place above Ayr in the table.

"We're into the business end of the league campaign now and each result becomes crucial right across the league," says Ayr head coach Peter Laverie.  "A good win keeps Ayr in contention."

Laverie will be trying to get the inside scoop on Heriot's on the morning of the match when he gives their head coach Phil Smith a lift down to Millbrae.

"I may be tempted to throw him out on the Fenwick Moor, which would be a popular move even with his own players, but we will have a good chat about attacking rugby since both our teams like to play that way and I doubt the spectators will be disappointed this week."

Laverie has rotated the front row again this week, with Scotland under-20s prop D'arcy Rae taking the tighthead berth with Nick Cox at loosehead with Fergus Scott at hooker.

In the backs, Finn Russell returns after his starting debut for Glasgow Warriors last week, meaning Ross Curle moves to outside centre and Robbie Fergusson shuffles over to the inside spot.


Team:

15. Grant Anderson (capt.), 14. Craig Gossman, 13. Ross Curle, 12. Robbie Fergusson, 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. Nick Cox, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. D'arcy Rae; 4. Peter McCallum, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Callum Templeton, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Graham Fisken.

Replacements:

16. David Young, 17. George Hunter, 18. Graham Williamson, 19. Peter Jericevich, 20. Richard Dalgleish.

Kick-off 3pm.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Ayr Ladies 15 Glasgow University 24

Ayr Ladies experienced their first defeat in their RBS Women's National League Division 2 campaign when they came up against a well-organised and fired-up Glasgow University side at Millbrae on Sunday.

After a shaky start from both teams, Ayr settled down and produced some exciting breaks from number eight Lisa Croniken, prop Gemma Swankie and outside centre Laura Turner.  However, Glasgow were extremely tough in defence and quickly snuffed out any attacks from Ayr.

The forwards coped well at the scrum, winning several against the head, and second row Lynda Morgan proved a safe pair of hands at the line-out. 

Ayr managed to match Glasgow's defence, with terrific tackles from Croniken and flanker Laura Sommerville.  In fact, each side seemed to be cancelling the other out and the first thirty minutes were scoreless until Glasgow went over for an unconverted try.  0-5.

Ayr struck back five minutes later, with Croniken charging up the touchline to release winger Emily Irving, who touched down for her first try.  She couldn't convert it.  5-5.

The second half began well for the visitors, with their full-back speeding away from the fifty-metre line to score under the posts.  The conversion was successful.  5-12.

Ayr dug deep and put Glasgow under pressure at the scrum, winning it against the head once more to allow Irving to get her second try.  Her conversion was short.  10-12.

Glasgow then pinned Ayr in their own half for several minutes, but a brilliant run from replacement back Daryl Paterson saw the pink ladies break free.  Alas, it wasn't enough, and despite tough tackles from prop Louise McLauchlan and hooker Amy McGillivray, Glasgow crossed for another try.  The conversion hit the post.  10-17.

It was a physical encounter, with several Ayr players hurt, and after another injury break, the university side scored under the posts again.  The conversion took the score to 10-24.

Ayr kept their heads up, stealing Glasgow line-out ball and McGillivray making a break to push on into the opposition half.  Each side turned over and knocked on a couple of times, but it was Glasgow who managed to launch an attack, only to be scuppered by an excellent tackle from replacement back Hazel Malakoty. 

Despite Glasgow's unusual rallying cry of "Up the Badgers" ringing round Millbrae, Ayr weren't put off, with inside centre Laura McTaggart deftly taking a high ball under pressure.  Their scrum was also still functioning well and they continued to batter away at Glasgow's solid defence until Irving got over the tryline with five minutes to go.  She couldn't manage the wide conversion.  15-24.

Ayr continued to plug away but Glasgow University coach, and Ayr men's first XV captain, Calum Forrester has clearly passed on all his defensive expertise, and there was no way through for them. 

Final score: Ayr Ladies 15 Glasgow University 24.


- Elena Hogarth.

 

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Ayr 13 Gala 20

Ayr's matches with Gala are always tough encounters, but yesterday's game had the feeling of an epic battle as smoke engulfed the pitch and players emerged bloodied and battered. 

If the men in pink and black were the Picts, then the mighty maroons were the Romans, building a wall of defence so strong and high that nobody could get up, over, through or round it.

It all started so promisingly for the home team.  Determined to make amends after last week's away loss to Currie, Ayr launched an early attack but it was a sign of things to come that they couldn't break down Gala's defence.

Ayr had the first chance for points with a kickable penalty, and with regular kicker Ross Curle having his leg heavily strapped, it was full-back and captain Grant Anderson who stepped up to the tee, only to miss.

Much of the first forty minutes was played in Gala's half, but they coped well with the onslaught from Ayr, scrum-half Murray McConnell and prop Nick Cox proving difficult to wrestle to the ground.

When Gala did manage a turn-over, they failed to clear their lines, sending the ball straight into the arms of winger Kerr Gossman, who shot off up the touchline and nicely flicked the pass to Anderson, who was bundled off the pitch.

Nevertheless, Ayr got a penalty as Gala continued to infringe, despite warnings from referee Graeme Wells.  Ayr took the line-out and a strong drive saw them trundle in the direction of Gala's try-line only for that stout maroon defence to shove them off-course.

Gala centre Ewan Scott had been pushing his luck with the referee and Wells finally got fed up and sent him to the bin for a professional foul at thirteen minutes.  Winger Craig Gossman was handed the kicking duties and managed to boot the ball over.  3-0.

Despite being a man down, Gala still wouldn't capitulate, coping well at the set-pieces and dealing with some lovely angled kicking from hand by Anderson.  They couldn't hold out for ever though, and a move started by Cox from an Ayr lineout saw the ball make its way to the corner and into the hands of Grant Anderson, who dotted down for a try.  The angle was too wide for Gossman to get the conversion.  8-0.

Gala were so busy trying to close down the threat of Craig Gossman - by any means - that they seemed to forget about Kerr, and two minutes after Ayr's first try, he scooped up a loose ball and touched down for the second.  Again, Gossman the elder had the distance with the conversion but the ball sailed past the wrong side of the posts.  13-0.

With Gala back to fifteen, they worked their way out of their own half.  Centre Scott made a blistering break and would have shot under the posts but for a heroic tackle by Craig Gossman, which unfortunately left the wiry winger spread-eagled on the ground and created a big gap for prop Ewan McQuillin to canter through and get Gala's first try.  Scott converted.  13-7.

As expected in such a tense encounter, the players became bad-tempered at times and fisticuffs broke out.  Gala scrum-half and captain George Graham did not lead by example, immaturely refusing to hand over the ball to his opposite number McConnell and getting his team sent back ten metres.

Despite attacking line-outs for both teams, neither could score again in the first half. 

Gala took to the pitch for the second half with a renewed fire in their bellies and immediately set about camping out on Ayr's five-metre line.  The home defence managed to prevent them getting over for a try, with McConnell and Kerr Gossman wrapping up Gala's attackers, but referee Wells adjudged Ayr to be on the wrong side of the law at the scrum and awarded a penalty try.  Scott converted.  13-14.

Smoke began to roll in from a nearby fire and with the dusk descending, the floodlights coming on, the Millbrae faithful providing unfaltering vocal support and the Gala coaching team's querulous yowling from the sidelines, it all got a bit primal.

Craig Gossman found himself in the bin after taking a Gala player out of the air and his teammates' further indiscipline saw Scott get a kickable penalty which he took.  13-17.

Gala's tails were up and electric winger Gerald Sibanda thought he was on his way to a rip-roaring try only for Kerr Gossman to turn on his heel, track him down and hold on for dear life until his opposite number was hauled to the ground.

Even the referee seemed to be getting caught up in the atmosphere - or possibly smoke had hampered his vision - and it took Gala's physio to alert him to three players all lying injured. 

Ayr were doing everything they could to hammer the Gala defence, be it chips from Curle or charges from second row duo Scott Sutherland and Peter McCallum.  But there was no way through.

They didn't help themselves by giving away a penalty which Scott duly kicked.  13-20.

Gala, despite leading, again showed an impetuosity and kicked the ball away from Ayr when they should have just handed it over and the referee marched them back ten metres.

Still, Ayr could get nowhere.  It did look at one point like Sutherland had burrowed over but Wells didn't think so.  The ball went from side-to-side and the crowd roared their players on, but it was no use.

Gala held on and managed to do what they had failed to twice last season and beat Ayr.  Not only did the visitors chasten the home side, but very soon the Bill McLaren Shield, which Ayr had reclaimed at the Greenyards, was off the clubhouse wall and on a bus heading back to the Borders.

Final score: Ayr 13 Gala 20.


- Elena Hogarth


Friday, 22 November 2013

Ayr v Gala preview

Ayr welcome Gala to Millbrae on Saturday for a crucial clash in the RBS Premiership.  Ayr slipped back to fourth place in the standings after last weekend's disappointing away loss to Currie and will be hoping to make up some ground with a strong performance at home against top-of-the-table Gala.

"Gala are riding high this week after their win at Aberdeen," says Ayr head coach Peter Laverie.  "Still, they have to come to Millbrae where we will be looking to make amends and maintain our challenge for the league title."

The team has been slightly reshuffled this week.  With Finn Russell starting his first match for Glasgow Warriors, Ross Curle takes over at stand-off with Murray McConnell named as his half-back partner.

Winger Craig Gossman and flanker Callum Templeton return from injury, whilst Denford Mutamangira starts at prop.  Peter McCallum moves to the second row and Graham Williamson provides cover on what is yet again a very strong bench.

Laverie is looking forward to what will be a tough encounter.

"I have no doubt George (Graham) will have his troops well-marshalled and ready to go.  It could be some spectacle for the Millbrae faithful and Gala supporters.  Definitely worth seeing, I'd say."


Team:

15. Grant Anderson (capt), 14. Craig Gossman, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick, 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. Ross Curle, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. Denford Mutamangira, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. Nick Cox; 4. Peter McCallum, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Callum Templeton, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Graham Fisken.

Replacements:

16. David Young, 17. George Hunter, 18. Graham Williamson, 19. Peter Jericevich, 20. Richard Dalgleish.

Kick-off 3pm.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Finn gets his first start for Glasgow Warriors

Finn Russell has been named in the Glasgow Warriors team that will take on the Dragons at Scotstoun tomorrow night.  Although the youngster normally plays at fly-half for Ayr, he'll be starting at inside centre and will partner DTH van der Merwe. 

Former Ayr player Gordon Reid starts at prop, whilst fellow Millbrae man George Hunter is on the bench for the Warriors.

Good luck to all and here's hoping for another home win for Glasgow.

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Pat on the bench for Australia match

Former Ayr player Pat MacArthur has the chance to get his third cap for Scotland after being named as a replacement for the final autumn international.  The Scots take on Australia at Murrayfield on Saturday, kicking off at 6pm.

Today's team announcement saw just the forwards confirmed for the match as the fitness of Tommy Seymour is waited upon to determine the backs line-up. 

Pat came off the bench during Scotland's victory over Japan two weeks ago to earn his second cap and fingers crossed he'll get on the pitch this Saturday too.

Best of luck to Pat and the rest of the team!

Read the full story here.

Money raised for Ayrshire Hospice

A bucket collection at the Ayr RFC Fireworks Night at the start of the month raised £352.10 for the Ayrshire Hospice. 

A huge thank you goes out to all those who rattled buckets on the night and the very generous individuals who donated.  It is much appreciated.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Three Ayr youngsters in Scotland U20s squad

Ayr teens Danny McCluskey, Gavin Lowe and D'arcy Rae have been named in the Scotland under-20s training squad. 

Backs McCluskey and Lowe and prop Rae will take part in a three-day training camp in Edinburgh from tomorrow.  They'll train alongside thirty-eight other talented young players who will be preparing for two big competitions next year, the under-20s Six Nations and the IRB Junior World Cup.

Good luck to all!

Read the full story here.

Mark signs long-term contract with the Warriors

Former Ayr player Mark Bennett has signed a three-year contract with the Glasgow Warriors that will see him stay at the Scotstoun-based side until May 2017.

The young centre follows in the footsteps of his fellow former Millbrae favourites Gordon Reid and Pat MacArthur who also play professionally for the RaboDirect Pro12 side. 

Read the full story here.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Currie 24 Ayr 15

Currie may play in the colours of a wasp, but it wasn't their sting that got Ayr at Malleny Park on Saturday, rather their dogged determination.  They were a Jack Russell with its jaws firmly clamped around Ayr's ankle for eighty minutes and the visitors couldn't shake them off.

It was a strange first half with neither side really getting anywhere.  The set-pieces were competitive, especially the scrum, and although the home team seemed keen to launch several attacks through their lively backs, they looked a bit tentative.

Ayr's forwards weren't quite their marauding selves, despite some good breaks from prop George Hunter and flankers Andrew Dunlop and Peter McCallum.  Each team conceded a few penalties but couldn't take advantage of line-outs on each other's five-metre lines. 

A strong breeze didn't help the kicking from hand, with Ayr stand-off Finn Russell wisely keeping it to a minimum, possibly after watching his diminutive counterpart George Horne's effort with the boot being blown backwards.

Currie winger Ruaridh Smith began to get things going but couldn't get past the solid defence of Ayr opposite number Richard Dalgleish.  Russell also put in some hefty tackles when Currie made forays into Ayr's half.

Ayr had their chances too, through winger Kerr Gossman and inside centre Dean Kelbrick, the best coming when Kelbrick shot through a hole in Currie's defence only to find Scott Sutherland on the wing and pass the ball to his knees (hand height on anyone other than the 6'6" lock).

Currie were building up a bit of momentum, led by number eight Ross Weston, who was on fine form all afternoon.  But Ayr dug deep, especially when second row Benn Cogley was sin-binned. 

They were bound to struggle with a man down, and Currie took advantage of an Ayr error at thirty-seven minutes to score, scrum-half Richard Sneddon nipping through a big gap in defence to grab a try.  Horne converted.  7-0.

Ayr had a renewed purpose in the second half, with strong running from Gossman, McCallum and replacement flanker James Eddie.  However, it was a sign of things to come when Horne thought he was away with an interception early on, only to be called back for off-side.

Ayr remained calm and camped out on Currie's line until the ball had been through almost every player's hands, but they couldn't get past the home defence.  Eventually Currie let up and a quick tap-and-go from replacement scrum-half Murray McConnell saw the ball find its way over the whitewash in the big paws of Sutherland at fifty-one minutes.  Russell's conversion was short.  7-5.

Currie hit back five minutes later after some hard work and several rucks saw outside centre Ethan Pollock get their second try.  Horne got the extras.  14-5.

The home team completely took their eye off the ball at the restart, allowing McCallum to scoop it up and dive over for a well-deserved try by the rambunctious young flanker.  The angle was too wide for Russell to convert.  14-10.

Ayr's backs livened up, with Robbie Fergusson, having replaced Gossman, linking up well with outside centre Ross Curle and full-back Grant Anderson.  The forwards displayed some heartening drives, but Currie just wouldn't be ground down.  Even when flanker Michael Vernal was yellow-carded with ten minutes to go, they refused to despair.

A minute later, Ayr prop Nick Cox scored in the corner from a ferocious drive.  Russell missed the conversion, but Ayr had nosed in front by a point.  14-15.

Still, Currie wouldn't lie down and roll over.  Ayr gave away a penalty right in front of the posts and Horne duly booted the ball over the crossbar with five minutes left on the clock.  17-15.

Ayr and their supporters always have the belief that they can fight it out until the bitter end, but so too do Currie.  Just as the seconds were ticking away, it looked like Ayr would fashion a try through the backs to break Currie's hearts, only for Smith to fly on to a long pass from Ayr and charge all the way to the other end of the pitch for a try to win the match.  Horne converted.  24-15.

The whistle was blown for full-time and Currie celebrated like they'd won the league.  Nobody could begrudge them the win after such a doughty performance.

Final score: Currie 24 Ayr 15.


- Elena Hogarth.



Friday, 15 November 2013

Currie v Ayr preview

It's top-of-the-table versus the bottom-of-the-table this Saturday as Ayr make another trip to Edinburgh, this time to take on Currie.  When Ayr took them on at Millbrae in September, it was a 29-0 victory for the home side and Currie will be hoping for some revenge to boost their season.

"Despite the difference in league positions I expect we will face a determined, committed performance from Ally (Donaldson)'s players," says Ayr head coach Peter Laverie, "and will remind ours that the previous game at Millbrae was a hard-fought encounter."

He continues: "Fixtures at Malleny Park are always difficult.  Currie have made it a real stronghold over the years.  The pressure is on us to maintain our standards and levels of performance. We have put ourselves in a good position to challenge for the league but it remains a tight competition and there's a long way to go."

Currie's line-up includes Edinburgh pros Tom Brown and Stuart McInally, whilst this week Ayr again have the services of Glasgow Warriors' James Eddie, who takes his place on a strong bench.

The front row is reshuffled with George Hunter and Stuart Fenwick starting.  Finn Russell returns at stand-off with Ross Curle moving to outside centre.

Team:

15. Grant Anderson (capt.), 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Ross Curle, 12. Dean Kelbrick, 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Peter Jericevich; 1. George Hunter, 2. Stuart Fenwick, 3. Nick Cox; 4. Benn Cogley, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Peter McCallum, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Graham Fisken.

Replacements:

16. Fergus Scott, 17. Denford Mutamangira, 18. James Eddie, 19. Murray McConnell, 20. Robbie Fergusson.

Kick-off 3pm.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Ayr RFC Race Night


Come and have a flutter at Millbrae on Saturday 7th December.  George McMillan is hosting this club fundraiser race night and are all welcome to attend after Ayr play Ulster Ravens that afternoon in the British and Irish Cup.

All the important betting info:

Stakes:

£10 to own
£5 to train
£2 to jockey

Returns:

£60 owners
£30 trainers
£12 jockey

Come and join the Facebook event.




Peter Laverie in today's Herald

Ayr's head coach Peter Laverie speaks to Neil Drysdale in today's sports section of the Herald about taking the reins from Kenny Murray.

Read the article online here or on page ten of the print edition.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Edinburgh Accies 12 Ayr 34

Ayr secured another bonus-point away win on Saturday, this time beating Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place to climb to the top of the RBS Premiership table.

The forecast had been favourable all week, but prior to kick-off, Stockbridge, that refined area of the capital, was the victim of several short but heavy downpours and it seemed the game wouldn't be the most compelling to watch.  Certainly, the first fifteen minutes saw slips and drops and knocks-on.

Despite the difficult conditions, Ayr fired into the attack early on, with scrum-half Peter Jericevich and full-back Grant Anderson releasing winger Richard Dalgleish, only for Accies' defenders to bundle him into touch.

The home side were also ambitious in the opening exchanges and the likes of winger Jamie Farndale took them to within centimetres of Ayr's line.  They thought they were over for a try but the visitors' sturdy defence managed to hold them up.  Accies pressed on for a score moments later but couldn't get past solid tackles from flanker Andrew Dunlop and inside centre Dean Kelbrick.

Both sides were holding firm - literally on the slippery playing surface - at the scrum and Ayr perhaps had the edge in the line-out with great takes from second row Scott Sutherland and an assured first XV debut by fellow lock Benn Cogley. 

However, the backs couldn't make their mark on proceedings and the game descended into a dull period of aerial ping-pong.  Ayr stand-off Ross Curle and outside centre Robbie Fergusson tried to liven things up with some chips and runs, but the visitors had to rely on an infringement by Accies to get on the scoreboard when Curle kicked a penalty at sixteen minutes.  0-3.

Accies launched further attacks through Farndale and outside centre Ewan Campbell but failed to get anywhere, as did Ayr.  It took barrelling prop Nick Cox to get the first try for Ayr, driving over in the corner at twenty-three minutes.  Curle couldn't get the wide conversion.  0-8.

Ayr retained possession for a steady period but Accies were quick to shut down any moves from the backs and when they got their hands on the ball, showed real juggling skills not to knock-on.  They had their own chance to get three points at twenty-eight minutes, but stand-off Ruairidh Bonner missed the penalty kick.

Four minutes later, Ayr's backs were finally getting some space and Fergusson skipped his way along the touch line before some nice handling from Dunlop saw Fergusson finish off the move he'd started to go over for a try.  Curle missed the conversion.  0-13.

Accies dominated the rest of the half, having most of the possession.  They went for another pushover try but again Ayr held them up.  They then showed tremendous patience, moving the ball from one side of the pitch to the other, to finally score, winger Nyle Godsmark touching down.  Bonner's conversion attempt was short.  5-13.

The home team came out for the second half with real purpose and it was their patience again that saw them score their second try at forty-four minutes, number eight Callum Reid this time going over.  Bonner converted to take his side within a point of Ayr.  12-13.

Ayr kept calm and some strong running in the forwards, especially from Sutherland, Cox and prop Denford Mutamangira, got them into Accies' half.  Fergusson, Kelbrick and Curle were causing trouble for the opposition, the latter especially as he lunged for Accies' line on several occasions.  But the home defence held on to snuff out any try-scoring for the moment.

They couldn't contain Fergusson though, who shot over for his second and Ayr's third try of the afternoon after swift footwork and passing from winger Kerr Gossman and captain Anderson.  Curle nicely slotted the conversion.  12-20.

Godsmark and Farndale proved themselves a nuisance all afternoon, and it was only a doughty defensive effort led by Ayr's replacement scrum-half Murray McConnell that prevented them from wriggling their way over the line.

The Raeburn Place side were clearly getting frustrated at their failed attempts to score and fisticuffs broke out a couple of times, but referee James Matthew quickly restored order and kept the game moving along.

Dalgleish and Kelbrick were keen to jink about but the pitch still wasn't dry enough and the backs wisely got the ball to Cox and this time it was Ayr's turn to be held up over the line.  Dalgleish and replacement prop George Hunter each had a go at getting over, but Accies' defence was too strong.

With only minutes remaining and eager to get a fourth try for a bonus point, Ayr threw caution to the wind and decided to run it, substitute hooker Stuart Fenwick making two bursts up the park in quick succession.  But it was winger Gossman who broke through the defence to chip ahead for Dunlop to collect and slide over the line.  Jericevich took over kicking duties with Curle on the sidelines and deftly got the conversion.  12-27.

Ayr had to have the final say and it was Anderson who shrugged off the tackles in his own half to sprint all the way to the line for an excellent try.  Jericevich struck a terrific kick from the touchline to add the extras at the close of play.

Final score: Edinburgh Accies 12 Ayr 34.


- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Edinburgh Accies v Ayr preview

Ayr have their second of three straight away games this Saturday, taking on Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place.  Although the men in pink and black had a great win over Melrose last week, Accies had an even larger victory over Aberdeen Grammar, running in five tries, and Ayr will be keen to stop a repeat performance.

"That same focus we had against Melrose will be needed for this week against a quick Edinburgh Accies side who play some very good rugby and will be keen to secure the points on their home patch," says Ayr head coach Peter Laverie.  "Bob Easson and Jonny Else have their squad working hard for each other and that is what makes them difficult to beat."

He adds: "It is up to us to get our basics right and impose our attack on them."

This week's squad is shuffled slightly due to injuries and player rotation.  The most notable change is Scotland under-20s trialist Benn Cogley who slots in to the second row alongside Scott Sutherland, meaning Peter McCallum moves to the back row. 

In the backs, Richard Dalgleish starts on the wing, with Kerr Gossman and Murray McConnell taking their places on what is a very strong bench.


Team:
15. Grant Anderson (capt.), 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Ross Curle, 9. Peter Jericevich; 1. Denford Mutamangira, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. Nick Cox; 4. Benn Cogley, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Andrew Dunlop, 7. Peter McCallum, 8. Graham Fisken.

Replacements:
16. David Young, 17. George Hunter, 18. Callum Templeton, 19. Murray McConnell, 20. Kerr Gossman.

Please note the earlier kick-off of 12.30pm.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Pat on the bench for Japan game

Former Ayr player Pat MacArthur will take his place as a substitute in the Scotland team to face Japan at Murrayfield in the first autumn international.  The young hooker already has one cap, which he earned during the summer, and will be hoping to make it two.  We'll all be crossing our fingers that he gets on to the pitch at some point on Saturday afternoon.

Read the full story of the Scotland team announcement here.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Melrose 17 Ayr 27

Ayr overcame wind, rain, a lacklustre first half and RBS Premiership leaders Melrose to kill several birds with one stone at the Greenyards on Saturday afternoon. 

It wasn't all about inflicting revenge after Melrose beat Ayr at Millbrae at the start of the season.  The visitors needed a win to push themselves up the table and a bonus point would have been very welcome, which was exactly what they got as they ran in four good tries.  There was also the added incentive of reclaiming the Bill McLaren Shield.

It didn't look like the day for running rugby as the rain poured endlessly before kick-off, but it eased off as the teams took to the pitch.  Melrose set their stall out early, with a break from winger Austin Lockington.  But it was Ayr who were first on the scoreboard, as the forwards and backs combined to move the ball side-to-side until it eventually found the hands of scrum-half Murray McConnell, who went over in the corner at five minutes.  Stand-off Ross Curle couldn't manage the conversion from out wide.  0-5.

However, it was a false dawn.  Although Ayr's line-out was working well with second rows Peter McCallum and Scott Sutherland both deftly taking the throw-ins from hooker Fergus Scott, the scrum was under constant pressure from Melrose and they really began to bully Ayr all over the field. 

The home side was itching to even up the scores and showed great patience until seventeen minutes, when hooker Todd Pearce pushed over for a try.  Inside centre Joe Helps converted.  7-5.

Both teams were pinged for off-side at various stages and Ayr were also penalised for holding on when they had worked hard to regain possession.  However, Helps missed his two penalty kicks at goal, the second hitting the post and going straight into the arms of Ayr's inside centre Dean Kelbrick, only for him to knock-on.

The resulting scrum saw Melrose fire the ball out to Lockington, who took off and looked to be heading for a try when Ayr's winger Craig Gossman put in a heroic tackle to pull his bigger opposite number into touch. 

Things took a turn for the worse Ayr at thirty-three minutes when Sutherland was sin-binned for a professional foul and a minute later, Melrose took a scrum on Ayr's five-metre line and number eight Andrew Nagle squirmed his way over for a try.  Helps converted.  14-5.

Ayr lost Gossman to a neck injury, but his replacement Richard Dalgleish put in some big hits of his own alongside hooker Scott to snuff out Melrose's pacey backs.  Number eight Callum Templeton made a good break and Ayr did well to pile on the pressure with just fourteen men, but it was all for nothing as the whistle came for half-time.

The opening exchanges of the second half were a bit shaky from both sides and it looked like Melrose were going to be the more composed and continue to dominate.  But the men in black and yellow should have known from the RBS Cup final in April that the men in pink and black like to see out the game till the bitter end. 

Ayr upped the tempo with some brilliant poaching from outside centre Robbie Fergusson and determined running from flankers Andrew Dunlop and James Eddie and winger Kerr Gossman. 

They worked their way into Melrose's half and despite the ball bobbling about all over the place with the rain back on, Ayr controlled it for long enough to score at fifty-two minutes.  Full back and captain Grant Anderson pounced as the ball went loose and dotted it down.  Curle struck the wide conversion perfectly.  14-12.

Melrose tried to release their backs but got nowhere.  Ayr were in the mood to show just why they are one of the most entertaining teams to watch.  They held firm at a scrum in their own twenty-two with replacement flanker Graham Fisken quickly getting his hands on the ball and galloping off through Melrose's defenders before off-loading well to Eddie who sprinted in under the posts for an excellent try.  Curle converted.  14-19.

Melrose narrowed the gap a few minutes later when Curle was adjudged to have deliberately knocked-on when going for an interception and Helps kicked a penalty.  17-19.

The visitors could have got a tad nervy but Anderson steadied the ship with a perfect kick for touch and props Nick Cox and Denford Mutamangira barrelled themselves about with gusto.  Ayr camped out on Melrose's five-metre line with the ball making its way through the forwards, but Mutamangira dropped it before he could get over for a try.

Curle provided some daylight between the two sides with a nicely struck penalty at seventy minutes.  17-22.

Melrose were coming back, as expected, with terrific breaks from full back Fraser Thomson and stand-off Richard Mill, but Kelbrick and Eddie's combined defensive efforts meant they couldn't get out of their own half. 

Curle had been in fine form in the second half and it was fitting that he should have flown over the line for Ayr's fourth try which secured the bonus point.  It was another blink-and-you'll-miss-it effort from Curle, who manoeuvred his way there after smooth handling from Kelbrick.  Unfortunately, the conversion was at too wide an angle for him.  17-27.

Time was running out for Melrose to comeback, but they were going to give it a go, getting within metres of Ayr's try-line only for the visitors to turn it over.  They regained possession with a turn-over of their own, but a huge tackle from Dunlop drove them back and they soon found themselves back in their half with nowhere to go, replacement back Tom Wilson mistakenly booting the ball off the field to give Ayr a well-earned victory and the Bill McLaren Shield.

Final score: Melrose 17 Ayr 27.


- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Melrose v Ayr preview

Ayr are on the road again and this Saturday travel to the Borders to face Melrose at the Greenyards.  Despite a hearty home win over Stirling County last weekend, Ayr won't underestimate the challenge that awaits.

"Melrose have achieved their top spot following some excellent performances, including a sizeable victory at the start of the campaign on our turf, together with a strong team spirit," comments Ayr head coach Peter Laverie. 

"Our players will be keen to reverse the previous result.  Still, we need to focus on our performance on Saturday and ensure we do the basics well.  This will not be a game for the faint-hearted and I expect our big game players to step up to the mark and show what they are capable of."

Laverie is full of praise for his opposite number, John Dalziel, and his men.

"John has put together a hard-working, well-organised squad and they have some real threats throughout their team, none more so than their accomplished captain, Fraser Thompson.  On another note, I'm also looking forward to John's hospitality, in particular sampling the quality of his cellar."

There are few changes to Ayr's match day squad.  Stand-off Finn Russell is absent as he is on Pro12 duty in Connacht with Glasgow Warriors.  Ross Curle takes his place alongside October player of the month Murray McConnell at scrum-half.

Zimbabwe international prop Denford Mutamangira is named on the bench as Scotland under-20s prop D'arcy Rae will be starting for the second XV.  Warriors' James Eddie makes his fourth start in the pink and black shirt.


Team:
15. Grant Anderson (capt.), 14. Craig Gossman, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick, 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. Ross Curle, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. Nick Cox, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. George Hunter; 4. Peter McCallum, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. James Eddie, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Callum Templeton.

Replacements:
16. Stuart Fenwick, 17. Denford Mutamangira, 18. Graham Fisken, 19. Peter Jericevich, 20. Richard Dalgleish.

Kick-off is at the earlier time of 2pm.  Follow Twitter for score updates.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Vote for your October player of the month


It's time to vote for your first XV player of the month.  We have a longer list than last month due to the extended squads for British and Irish Cup fixtures.  Players who have featured in two or more squads in the last four matches appear on the list.

Scott Sutherland was voted player of the month for August/September, pipping Robbie Fergusson to the title.  Who wins this month is again up to you.  You can only vote once.  The winner will be announced on Wednesday 30th October.

Vote here.


Ayr 29 Stirling County 0

Ayr overcame Stirling County and torrential rain on Saturday at Millbrae to score four exciting tries and claim a much-needed bonus point win in the RBS Premiership.
 
With both sides on the receiving end of back-to-back losses in the British and Irish Cup, it was expected that yesterday's match would be a close affair, and despite the final scoreline, Ayr didn't get it all their own way.
 
Stirling came out of the blocks pretty quickly and winger Rory Hughes was perhaps too revved up, taking his opposite number Craig Gossman out of the air as they both went for the ball.  Referee Gary Gordon had a stern word.
 
However, County's discipline let them down and after four minutes, Ayr had a penalty in a kickable position and stand-off Finn Russell duly got the three points.  3-0.
 
The visitors got themselves together and a familiar face to Ayr fans in scrum-half AJ Macfarlane led the attack.  Strong tackles from home centres Robbie Fergusson and Dean Kelbrick meant Stirling didn't get very far.
 
Ayr had struggled in their first few line-outs but settled down with some good takes from second rows Peter McCallum and Scott Sutherland.  Their handy work let flanker James Eddie make some effectual breaks, one of which released prop Nick Cox, whose barrelling charge allowed Fergusson to score the first try.  Russell converted.  10-0. 
Sutherland was on poaching form at the line-out but Stirling managed to gain the advantage a few times, in the first half at least, at the scrum.  With Macfarlane firing the ball out to the backs, Stirling were on the attack again but Ayr's defence didn't let up.  Neither did the rain, which began to batter down and didn't stop for the rest of the match.

The wind was getting fairly gusty too and may have been responsible for County stand-off Stuart Edwards' penalty kick at twenty-two minutes going well wide of the posts.

Whether it was the wind and rain or the pressure from the visitors, Ayr had a few wobbles, including a couple of knocks-on, scrum-half Murray McConnell and Kelbrick bashing into each other as they both went to catch the ball and McConnell being penalised for not putting the ball in straight at the scrum.  But Edwards again missed his penalty kick at thirty-two minutes.

Three minutes later and McConnell more than made up for his previous error as he shot away from the back of a scrum near the fifty-metre line like, appropriately for the day Ayr were hosting their Hallowe'en party, a bat out of hell.  It looked like he wasn't going to make it to the line but he held off several Stirling defenders to fight his way over for a well-deserved try.  Russell got the extras.  17-0.

Players were getting tetchy and fisticuffs broke out right in front of the referee and Gordon had no choice but to send Ayr flanker Andrew Dunlop and County prop Jamie Bhatti to the sin bin just before half-time.
The second half started at a blistering pace with McConnell kicking ahead for Gossman to chase only for the diminutive winger to be once again shunted out of the way by Hughes, this time legally, according to all but the Ayr players and fans.
 
Mere seconds later and Ayr whipped the ball across the pitch for Eddie to bundle over in the far corner for the day's third try.  Russell couldn't convert from such a wide angle.  22-0.
 
Ayr upped their game in spite of the horrible weather and strong runs from full-back Grant Anderson and more hefty tackles from Fergusson and Kelbrick frustrated Stirling further until Macfarlane got his team sent back ten metres for his backchat.
 
When the visitors did get possession, it was turned over by Dunlop and kicks were charged down by Eddie.  Cox was on bulldozing form and it took several Stirling defenders to stop him in his tracks.
 
County did buck up their ideas with a quick line-out which allowed winger Graham Lindsay to dash off, with prop Colin Hutton in support but they couldn't get through Ayr's defence, Kelbrick in particular putting in a very big hit to stop them reaching the line.
 
The match came to a standstill for a few minutes whilst Hughes hobbled off with his leg in a splint and County's luck didn't improve when the game resumed, as they knocked-on just at the try-line.
 
Ayr's forwards were keen to stretch their legs, with hooker Fergus Scott demonstrating great mobility and replacement back row Graham Fisken showing off his sidestepping skills and tremendous pace.
 
The men in pink and black were sniffing out a fourth try to get a bonus point and a ruck on Stirling's five-metre line looked to be fruitful until the wily Macfarlane somehow ended up with the ball. 
 
Another attack from Ayr resulted in a knock-on and the clock was ticking.  Suddenly, replacement centre Ross Curle came out of nowhere and flew through Stirling's shell-shocked defenders to touch down in the corner with just a few minutes to go.  Russell nicely converted from a very tight angle.  29-0.
 
Stirling could do no more and Ayr didn't need to as the referee blew the whistle for full-time.
 
Ayr 29 Stirling County 0.
 
 
- Elena Hogarth




Friday, 25 October 2013

Ayr v Stirling County preview

Ayr's RBS Premiership campaign resumes at Millbrae tomorrow when they welcome Stirling County.  After last week's dispiriting loss to Cornish Pirates in the British and Irish Cup, Ayr are glad to get back to league business against County, who have also been competing in the cross-border competition. 

Ayr opened their season against Stirling County at the end of August with a fine away win but with several games under both teams' belts, another victory is no foregone conclusion.

"We have enjoyed, if that's the word, some stirring battles in recent seasons and fully expect a tricky game at Millbrae," says Ayr head coach Peter Laverie.  "Stirling is an ambitious club and they'll be keen to reverse the result of the opening match of the season."

Laverie continues: "It's another tight RBS Premiership campaign and we're well aware of what's needed to succeed and so we'll be fully focussed on our performance as we approach the half-way stage."

The squad continues to be rotated and Murray McConnell claims the scrum-half spot this week and Kerr Gossman returns on the left wing.

Glasgow Warriors have once again released James Eddie, who partners the returning Andrew Dunlop at flanker.  Fergus Scott is back at hooker, with Nick Cox starting at loosehead prop.

"The changes for this game leave us with a very strong bench," explains Laverie, "which reflects the competition for places."


Team:
15. Grant Anderson (capt), 14. Craig Gossman, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick, 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. Nick Cox, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. D'arcy Rae; 4. Peter McCallum, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. James Eddie, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Callum Templeton.

Replacements:
16. Stuart Fenwick, 17. George Hunter, 18. Graham Fisken, 19. Peter Jericevich, 20. Ross Curle.

Kick-off 3pm.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Fireworks on Friday 1st November



Join us for a spectacular fireworks display on Friday 1st November at 7.30pm at Millbrae.  Entry is free for under-5s and £5 over-5s. 

Former Millbrae men in Scotland squad

The training squad for Scotland's autumn international tests was announced today and former Ayr players Pat MacArthur and Mark Bennett have been included. 

Pat has made one appearance so far for his country - in South Africa over the summer - but 20-year-old Cumnock-native Mark is uncapped.  After some solid performances for Glasgow Warriors, it's no surprise to see both named in the squad for the training camp to be held in Glasgow next week.

Well done to both!  Read the full story here.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Ayr Ladies 59 Grangemouth Women 0

Ayr Ladies enjoyed a tremendous home debut as they ran in nine tries against Grangemouth at Millbrae on Sunday in the RBS Women's National League Division 2.

The ladies in pink and black started well, with strong showings in defence and attack, with great tackles from flanker Ashleigh Nelson and some determined running from prop Louise McLauchlan.  They were soon on the score sheet after a superb try by inside centre Emily Irving from her own fifty metre line.  She also converted.  7-0.

Two minutes later, outside centre Laura Turner was off like a shot to score in the corner.  Irving missed the tricky wide conversion.  12-0.

Irving very quickly got her second try of the day, this time running from her own 22 to touch down under the posts.  She added the extras.  19-0.

That score was replicated minutes later when number eight Lisa Croniken also went on the charge from well inside her own half and outstripped the flagging Grangemouth defence.  Irving converted.  26-0.

Grangemouth strung together a few phases but were under pressure from Ayr's defence and the constant threat they posed with ball in hand.  McLauchlan was on the charge again just before half-time, deftly offloading to put Irving in for her third try, which she converted.  33-0.

There was just enough time for Turner to fight her way free of the Grangemouth defenders to sprint in for yet another try.  Irving's conversion brought the first half to a close.  40-0.

The second half started with a huge downpour to compound Grangemouth's misery.  Turner scored from the restart, neatly gathering the kick and motoring off for the posts.  Irving converted.  47-0.

Full-back Laura McTaggart made an excellent break to take Ayr back into Grangemouth's half and replacement hooker Megan Thomson went over for the home side's eighth try.  Scrum-half Ann-Marie Connolly took over kicking duties but couldn't convert.  52-0.

A break and a lovely pass from flanker Kerry Steel set up Ayr's ninth try, McTaggart scoring under the posts.  Connolly converted.  59-0.

Despite pinning Ayr into their own half for the rest of the match, Grangemouth couldn't manage any points.  Ayr Ladies will be pleased with their defensive and attacking efforts.  They go to second place in the division two table with a game in hand, just a point behind Stewartry Sirens.


EH