Saturday, 15 March 2014

Ayr 32 Glasgow Hawks 7

Ayr let loose in their final home game of the season and scored five exciting tries to put their old foes Glasgow Hawks to the sword under the floodlights at Millbrae.

There's always an added edge to matches between the two sides, but the visitors were lacking their usual sharp talons and Ayr had them pinned in their own half and under pressure from the get-go.  Number eight Peter McCallum was the first to power on for Hawks' line but their defence stopped him in time.

Hawks had their chance to move things on after a throw at the Ayr line-out by Dougie Hall was judged not straight.  But the following kick from the back of the scrum was charged down by Ayr and scrum-half Murray McConnell scooped up the ball and barrelled his way back into Hawks' 22.  Alas, it came to nothing.

The visitors again had some good possession and a couple of line-outs but they were still in their own half and it wasn't long before the ball found its way into Ayr hands.  Winger Robbie Fergusson flew up the touchline and just managed to chip ahead before he was barged off the pitch.  McCallum followed the bobbling ball over the line and touched down for Ayr's first try.  Finn Russell converted.  7-0.
A few minutes later and the home side secured another turnover and outside centre Mark Bennett seemed to stroll through the Hawks defence before passing on to a very lively Kerr Gossman who put inside centre Dean Kelbrick over for the second try.  Russell couldn't manage the wide conversion.  12-0.

Ayr continued to pile on the pressure but Hawks held on and put in some huge tackles, centre Ally MacLay laying out Bennett with a thud that could be heard in the stand.  Ayr put in their fair share of big hits too, with Bennett none the worse for being on the receiving end.  He was joined in defence by Hall, McConnell, Russell and props Stuart Fenwick and Denford Mutamangira, the latter leaving bodies spread-eagled all over the pitch in his wake.

There were some handling errors from both sides but Ayr were the steadier throughout, Russell in particular deftly flipping the ball to his team-mates on a couple of occasions.  He managed to release Gossman who set off on a zig-zag through the defence before offloading to Bennett, whose chip ahead was safely gathered up by Hawks.

A few minutes later and Ayr set off on a powerful drive from a line-out and trundled their way over the line, Fenwick emerging as the try-scorer.  Despite a slip in his run-up, Russell got the conversion.  19-0.

Hawks couldn't get their attack going, a strong run from winger Robbie Houliston their only highlight but he was dragged into touch by his namesake Fergusson.

McCallum was on fine form all match and showed his versatility all over the park, an acrobatic leap to tidy up a messy line-out one memorable moment.  Gossman too had a good game and set off on another mazy run that baffled the Hawks defence.

The next chance for a score was a high kick in Hawks' 22 from Russell but their defenders beat flanker Andrew Dunlop to it.

A small scuffle ensued and Ayr ended up with a penalty in front of the posts which Russell duly booted over.  22-0.

There were a few more attacks led by McConnell, Mutamangira and flanker Callum Templeton before half-time but they got nowhere.

The second half continued in much the same fashion but Ayr got the upper hand at the line-out with Al Kellock proving, as expected, an intimidating presence on his return from injury.  His second row partner Scott Sutherland also had some great takes. 

Hawks were losing the plot slightly with kicks going awry and tempers flared up again and captains Grant Anderson and Andy Linton were given a lecture by referee Graham Wells. 

A break from Kelbrick took Ayr into a good position and another solid line-out got things moving to the far corner where Bennett bounced over for a try.  Russell's conversion was short.  27-0.

There was a short delay as a Hawks replacement back was carried off the pitch after he injured himself attempting to tackle Mutamangira in the run-up to the try.

Hawks had a penalty and took the line-out but were out-jumped by Ayr and yet again Russell got his hands on the ball and kicked on for Gossman to chase but he just couldn't pick up and Hawks got the scrum for the knock-on.  But Ayr managed a tremendous shove and McConnell snaffled the ball.  Dunlop charged for the line but Hawks' defenders bundled him up.

The visitors gathered themselves together and some strong running from centre Tom Steven moved them out of their own half and scrum-half Paddy Boyer plunged for the tryline only to be held up.

They tried once more to get through Ayr's defence, this time chipping on but it was gathered by Gossman who shrugged off the tackles and skipped his way out of his own half.

A couple of infrigements from Ayr gave Hawks a glimmer of hope but they again couldn't do anything with the advantage, the ball this time squirting out of an attacking scrum and being safely kicked away by Ayr replacement scrum-half Peter Jericevich.

Russell produced another great flick pass to Templeton once Ayr had got themselves settled in Hawks' half and the rangy flanker set off at a canter, brilliantly offloading to Jericevich who flew over for a much enjoyed try.  Russell's conversion attempt skidded away to the side.  32-0.

Credit must be paid to Hawks for not giving up and they launched one last attack, with Houliston eventually crashing over for a converted try.  32-7.

They set off again but Templeton showed great speed to swoop on to the Hawks attack and snuff it out.  Jericevich and Gossman displayed their creativity and pace but the ball went loose and the referee blew the whistle to bring to an end a very entertaining match, from an Ayr perspective at least.

Denford Mutamangira was named man of the match.

Final score: Ayr 32 Glasgow Hawks 7.

- Elena Hogarth.

All photos courtesy of Rob Hardie of Touchline Images.

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