Sunday, 24 February 2013

Ayr 39 Currie 13

Although coaching staff and players were adamant that Ayr's RBS Premiership encounter with Currie at Millbrae was just another league game, the supporters - including 200 additional female fans there for Ladies' Day - were on the edge of their seats throughout the match, as they knew a bonus point win for Ayr and a defeat of second-placed Gala by Stirling would secure the men in pink and black the league title.  While everyone in the crowd kept an eye on the score at Bridgehaugh via the wonders of technology, Ayr did what they did best - gritted their teeth, scored tries and won.

The sun was shining in Alloway and Ayr got straight into attack-mode, with chips and chases from outside centre Ross Curle and winger Craig Gossman, and inside centre Dean Kelbrick on battering ram duty.  It looked like Gossman would touch down within a few minutes of kick-off, but he couldn't quite jink himself out of the way of the Currie defence.

Gossman didn't have to wait long to get his fourteenth try of the season.  Curle brilliantly slipped a tackle and shot off before firing the ball to Gossman for the score.  Scrum-half Peter Jericevich missed the conversion.  5-0.

Ayr pressed on, with Gossman and Curle again proving the thorns in the side of Currie.  The visitors more than played their part though, even if the scoreline suggested otherwise.  They just couldn't contain Ayr.  After a terrific take by openside flanker Andy Dunlop, who was on fine form all afternoon, from a high ball by full-back Grant Anderson, winger Richard Dalgleish darted up the touchline for Ayr's second try at eighteen minutes.  Curle had a go at the wide conversion but his attempt was just short.  10-0.

Three minutes later, Currie got their first chance for points with a penalty in a kickable position, but after some yoga-like deep breathing and meditative concentration from full-back Jamie Forbes, he missed.  However, the opportunity arose again at twenty-four minutes when Ayr were pinged for holding on and Forbes slotted the kick over.  10-3.

Ayr did seem to get a bit jittery and a quick line-out take that went horribly awry was only stopped from being a try for Currie by an excellent tackle from Ayr captain Calum Forrester.  They steadied the ship in the line-out, with second rows Nick Campbell and Scott Sutherland on great jumping form.  The latter was also extremely mobile in the loose, but couldn't get over the line when the opportunity arose.  Props Denford Mutamangira and Nick Cox and blindside flanker Colin White were also denied by a tough Currie defence.

The visitors' inside centre John Houston was continually sniffing out any breaks but never found his way to the tryline.  It was the boot of Forbes which again got them some points, kicking another penalty at thirty-seven minutes.  10-6.

Ayr slowed right down in their attacking endeavours at the end of the first half, and it seemed that they would never cross the line until Anderson squeezed in at the corner.  That meant the conversion was to be taken out on the wing again and Curle couldn't make it.  15-3.

The second half began with a promising charge by White but it came to nothing and Currie got another penalty chance a minute later.  Forbes missed.  Ayr were unlucky to lose Curle with rib trouble, but the backs reshuffled with Glasgow Warriors Elite Development player Murray McConnell coming on at scrum-half, Jericevich moving to the wing and Dalgleish taking Curle's place at centre.

Putting Jericevich to wing was a providential move, as some strong work from Dalgleish and hooker Stuart Fenwick released him to do a horizontal star jump in the corner for Ayr's fourth try.  He converted his own score from a very tricky position.  22-6.

There was a stoppage of some time for Currie's Jack Broadley, who was treated by both medical teams for a very bloody nose and he eventually had to be escourted off.  The breather did Ayr good and they came back with a strong scrum at a Currie put-in. 

It looked like Gossman had gone over again at sixty minutes, but referee Peter Allan adjudged him to have knocked-on.  Four minutes later, however, Forrester dived over the line and there was nothing wrong with the grounding that time.  Jericevich couldn't get the extras.  27-6.

Ayr's replacements made their presence felt, with some good attacking play from McConnell and some hefty tackles from hooker Hayden Wisnewski.  It was flanker Graham Fisken who stole the limelight though with another of his off-like-a-rocket sprints for the line.  That was Ayr's sixth try and it was deftly converted by Jericevich.  34-6.

As news began to filter through via Twitter of Stirling's winning position against Gala, the crowd was so preoccupied that Currie's try almost went unnoticed.  At seventy-four minutes, openside flanker Michael Entwhistle snuck in at the corner and Forbes made the conversion.  34-13.

It was almost all over, but Ayr weren't done yet.  Jericevich had had an outstanding day and sealed it with another great try, this time picking up a chip from Anderson to touch down, much to the delight of the crowd who knew that Stirling's defeat of Gala meant Ayr were league champions.  Jericevich, unfortunately, couldn't convert.  39-13.

Currie, to their credit, carried on and launched a last-minute attack, but Dalgleish ferretted the ball away and, enjoying himself so much, decided he and fly-half Finn Russell would run it.  However, it was wisely booted off the pitch and Ayr and their loyal fans could celebrate an exciting victory and a well-deserved league title.


All photos by Rob Hardie/Touchline Images.  To see more, please visit our Facebook page.


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