Sunday, 31 March 2013

Dundee HSFP 5 Ayr 15

Ayr found themselves in a real dogfight with Dundee HSFP, but the Millbrae men fought their way into the RBS Cup final for the fourth year in a row.

It was always going to be a tense afternoon, with both teams determined to get to Murrayfield for finals day, but it was especially so for the home side who were playing one of their last matches with Ian Rankin as head coach.  It was their tenacity that dominated the opening proceedings.

Both sides overcame a few early handling errors - mainly forced by ferocious tackling - to try and get some running rugby going on a lovely afternoon on the banks of the Tay.  Dundee's Andy McLean was on the rampage, and Ayr scrum-half Peter Jericevich certainly felt the force as he was bashed out of the way when trying to stop the big winger from reaching the try line.

Ayr's man-of-the-match-winning flanker Ross Doneghan was also on the charge but couldn't make it to the whitewash.  Full back Grant Anderson got in on the act too, making some good breaks, but it was the home team who got the first points on the board, flanker Iain Wilson squeezing in for a try on the corner.  Stand-off Jack Steele couldn't manage the tricky conversion.  5-0.

There followed a tense period in which Dundee closed down any attack Ayr tried.  The visitors didn't help themselves by throwing a couple of forward passes, but they aren't the RBS Premiership champions for nothing.  They did what they've done all season and kept their composure.  At twenty-eight minutes, prop George Hunter rumbled his way over for a try which Jericevich converted.  5-7.

The rest of the first half saw the teams cancel each other out.  Dundee's scrum-half Andy Dymock made a few dangerous runs, but he was always quickly closed down, as was Ayr's flying winger Craig Gossman.

Dundee had a chance to extend their lead with a penalty kick but Steele missed.  Ayr's centres Dean Kelbrick and Robbie Fergusson and hooker Hayden Wisnewski were threatening to carve up the Mayfield turf, but half-time came with no change to the scoreboard.

Ayr were unlucky to lose Gossman to an arm injury just at the resumption of the second half, and he was followed off the pitch by Kelbrick a few minutes later. 

Again, forced errors were made by both teams, but Ayr's ever-reliable second row Scott Sutherland steadied the ship with some good work not only in the line-out but also the loose play.  Winger Richard Dalgleish was also solid under the high ball all afternoon, and prop Denford Mutamangira put in a few of his trademark barrelling runs.

Replacement scrum-half Murray McConnell made his presence known, almost diving over for a try after several phases of attack only to be bundled into touch.  He showed his strength in defence too, putting in a huge tackle on a Dundee forward that drew winces from the crowd.

There were no more scores until ten minutes before the final whistle when Jericevich landed a penalty.  5-10.  Each side seemed fairly equal in possession and territory and there was some exciting rugby to keep the spectators on the edge of their seats. 

Dundee's excellent defensive efforts were matched by Ayr, with flankers Doneghan and Andy Dunlop and captain Calum Forrester putting in the hard work.  The usually fleet-footed fly-half Ross Curle wasn't getting any room to show off, but he too proved doughty in defence.

It really could have gone either way, but it was Ayr who took their chances, firstly with some strong charges from second row Colin White and then by young centre Fergusson touching down for an unconverted try with two minutes to go.  5-15.

The ball was soon booted off the park, sending the Ayr players and their travelling support into jubliant celebrations.  It's now on to Murrayfield to face Melrsoe and a quest for more silverware.


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