Sunday, 12 October 2014

Ayr 20 Currie 11

Ayr again had a slow first half but rallied to overcome Currie in week seven of the BT Premiership and move into second place on the table.

Currie have been Ayr's banana skin team in the past few seasons, usually at Malleny Park, their ground in Edinburgh, but their tenacity at Millbrae yesterday showed they can be just as much of a handful away from home.

They were on the charge, and it was only some flying tackles from Ayr's returning second row Callum Templeton and centre Ross Curle that closed them down.

Just like last week, Ayr's discipline was a worry and Currie centre Joe Reynolds had a kick at goal at ten minutes, which he missed.

Ayr gave themselves a shake and got stuck in, scrum-half David Armstrong taking a superb high ball, flanker Graham Fisken rising to the occasion in the line-out and prop George Hunter blasting his way through defenders.
Teenage flanker Ben Johnston cantered through a gap in Currie's defence at seventeen minutes, flipping the ball on to Curle, who deftly took it off his bootlaces, and he found winger Richard Dalgleish ready and waiting to dive over in the corner for Ayr's first try.  The conversion angle was too wide for full-back Grant Anderson.  5-0.

Currie replied a few minutes later when Reynolds got a second shot at the sticks.  5-3.

Despite good handling from Templeton and his second row partner Scott Sutherland, the game entered a rather boring period of kicking until Currie decided they had had enough and wanted to run it.  They couldn't out-run Fisken and Curle though, who snuffed out the attack as it crept increasingly closer to Ayr's line.

Ayr wobbled at twenty-five minutes though, giving away another penalty which Reynolds slotted.  5-6.

Four minutes later, Reynolds had yet another chance but missed.

Number eight Blair Macpherson, winger Kerr Gossman and hooker Stuart Fenwick livened things up for the home team, but there was no way through Currie's solid defence.
Their right winger Fidias Efthymiou had been itching to make his mark on the game from the start, and he got his opportunity as he sprinted off up the touchline, but Gossman quickly tracked him down and forced him off the pitch.

Urged on by some incomprehensible gutteral shouts from stand-off James Semple, Efthymiou and flanker Malcolm Peacock launched another attack, which was extinguished this time by Ayr captain Dean Kelbrick.
The ever-robust Anderson was also involved in containing Currie, but injured himself in the process, and as he was escorted off the pitch by the medical team towards the end of the first half, Robbie Fergusson made his return to competitive rugby after fighting and beating Hodgkin Lymphoma.  There has probably never been a cheer like it at Millbrae as he ran on.

An unsuccessful penalty attempt by Curle was the only other incident of note in the first half.

Ayr were certainly fired up at the resumption of play, replacement scrum-half Murray McConnell headed for the tryline, as was Fergusson.  It was Curle, though, who shot over after a slick pass from Kelbrick, and he converted his own score.  12-6.

Curle added a penalty a few minutes later.  15-6.

Both teams mirrored each other slightly for a period, each knocking on after working hard to secure possession.  It was Ayr who mopped up a Currie mistake to their advantage, letting Curle, Templeton and Gossman loose and eventually Fenwick tried to wrestle his way over the line, but he was well wrapped up. 

A couple of Ayr scrums followed and Macpherson looked to be over at sixty minutes, when Currie captain Ross Weston was summarily sent to the sin bin for illegally interfering.
Shortly after Weston's dismissal, Dalgleish was flying up the wing for a try when an excellent double tackle forced the ball from his hands just as he was about to touch down.

More tedious kicking threatened to lull the supporters into an afternoon nap, but they quickly woke up when Fergusson, arms outstretched like someone was about to lob a sack of tatties at him, caught a Currie kick and shot off on a fifty-metre run.  He could only chip ahead as two defenders looked to close him down, but the fans loved seeing the young man raring to go.

With ten minutes to go, a solid Ayr scrum provided the platform to fire the ball out wide to Kelbrick, who dived over in the corner for the third try of the day.  The conversion attempt by Curle was unsuccessful.  20-6.
Ayr were keen for more, with McConnell fighting his way out of his own half and Fenwick selling a terrific dummy, but Currie were managing to pin them back.  A burst by Fisken made the difference and Ayr made metres, but Currie turned them over.

Efthymiou was again the danger man for the visitors, but Fisken and Hunter had him under control.  However, Reynolds was Currie's point-scorer for the day and he added a try to his tally at the end.  He may have been distracted by the entire Ayr team charging at him as he attempted to convert.  20-11.

The referee blew the whistle to bring the tricky encounter to a close, and although they missed the four-try bonus point, Ayr will have been glad to get through it and leapfrog Heriot's, whom they face next week, in the BT Premiership table.

Final score: Ayr 20 Currie 11.

- Elena Hogarth.

Photos by Rob Hardie of Touchline Images.

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