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.