Saturday, 27 September 2014

Ayr 23 Edinburgh Accies 17

A large crowd gathered at Millbrae to celebrate fifty years since the first fixture was played there and to watch Ayr overcome a stubborn Edinburgh Accies in round five of the BT Premiership.

Ayr went into this clash with a raft of injuries and when Calum Forrester and Glen Tippett turned up in boots and pink and black socks, it looked like they might have had to come out of retirement to provide some cover.

Their experience would have been appreciated on the pitch for the first sixty minutes as Ayr struggled somewhat to stamp their authority on the match.  They took the lead at seven minutes when Accies were penalised for not rolling away and stand-off Sylvain Diez duly took the kick.  3-0.

However, it wasn't the start of a flood of points as Accies kept turning the ball over just when Ayr were putting together some good moves.  There was early danger as Accies kicked a turnover ball up the wing and it bobbled over the tryline.  Fortunately, winger Richard Dalgleish got to it before anyone in a blue and white shirt.
Scrum-half David Armstrong was making metres, as well as having impressed early on with a beauty of a catch in the air, and flanker Graham Fisken was blasting around the pitch, but it was all a bit laborious elsewhere.
Glasgow Warriors released hooker Dougie Hall for the day as he makes a comeback from injury and he proved himself very useful, charging down an Accies kick which ended up in the hands of second row Scott Sutherland but he was well bundled up as he made for the tryline.
There was some petty shirt-grabbing between Ayr prop George Hunter and Accies outside centre Ewen Campbell, but it was a professional foul that had referee Graeme Wells blow the whistle sharpish and whip out a yellow card for Accies second row Edward Stuart. 
Seconds after the sin-binning, number eight Blair Macpherson picked up from the back of the scrum, bounded to the line and leapt over for the first try.  Diez's conversion attempt was unsuccessful.  8-0.
After some messing about on the wing, with wild passes and ineffectual kicks from both sides, Accies slowly but surely made their way into Ayr's half only to get on the wrong side of the referee and cede control.
The home team, though, couldn't do anything with the ball; winger Cammy Taylor was unable to take a pass and felled team manager Dougie Stanley on the sidelines instead.  Taylor made up for it, scampering back to haul opposite number Sam Pecqueur to the ground when it looked like the nippy winger was away.
Accies wouldn't go away and at thirty-one minutes, second row Greg Campbell sprung over for a try.  Unfortunately, Ruairidh Young's conversion kick went in the direction of the Burns Museum instead of the Burns Monument.  8-5.

Pecqueur was threatening again but Taylor was sticking to him like a limpet and the referee soon brought the sluggish first half to an end.

Accies flew out of the blocks at the start of the second half, number eight Ronan Seydak scoring a try with barely a minute on the clock.  Young's conversion was short.  8-10.

Hall, Taylor, centre Dean Kelbrick and full-back Grant Anderson were making inroads but sloppy errors marred their efforts and the whole thing had a lacklustre feeling to it.  Accies were still managing to turn over far too much Ayr ball, although they slipped up and gave Diez another penalty kick, which he missed.

The next fifteen minutes were very up and down for the visitors, as their line-out throws went astray and they were pinged for not rolling away.  But they plugged away and scrum-half Ryan Godsmark danced his way over for a try at sixty-three minutes.  Young got the conversion.  8-17.
This, at last, seemed to waken up the home team and Anderson set off on one of his trademark runs, where no matter how many tacklers are clinging on, he always muscles his way up the park.  Taylor, too, dodged his way round the defenders before the referee was searching for a yellow card again.  This time it was winger Jack Marples who was sent to the naughty step.

A minute later and Macpherson was repeating his feat from the first half, this time diving in at the base of the posts for a much-needed try.  Replacement Tom Hiddleston easily converted.  15-17.

Kelbrick got stuck into some gymnastic defensive efforts and Armstrong and replacement prop Stuart Fenwick got things moving before Anderson found the ball in his hands and rocketed up the wing for a try.  Hiddleston just missed the conversion.  20-17.
Replacement hooker Fergus Scott was clearly taking notes from Armstrong as he took a high ball superbly and allowed his team-mates to make ground.  A few phases later and flanker Ben Johnston, on his first XV debut, burst through the Accies defence with replacement stand-off Danny McCluskey in support. 

He couldn't make it to the line but Accies had infringed and Hiddleston stepped up to hammer over the penalty.  23-17.

There was one last effort from Accies, with hooker David Bates almost making it to the line but the ball was knocked on and the Millbrae faithful breathed a sigh of relief as the whistle went for full-time.

Final score: Ayr 23 Edinburgh Accies 17.

- Elena Hogarth.

Photos by George McMillan.

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