Sunday, 30 November 2014

Ayr 18 Glasgow Hawks 6

Ayr beat west coast rivals Glasgow Hawks in an odd match at Millbrae on Saturday to stay top of the BT Premiership.

As the dark descended, the floodlights came on and the stand filled with expectant fans, things looked all set for a cracker of a match, but not a point was scored in the first half.  It was still full of incident though.

Ayr had the early possession and opportunities, thanks to some charging runs from hooker Fergus Scott and centre Ross Curle.  Winger Richard Dalgleish got the crowd on their feet with a few minutes on the clock when a Hawks attempted clearance kick was charged down and he chased it to the line.  Unfortunately, the visitors got to it first.  It was a fleeting appearance for Dalgleish, who was replaced by Kerr Gossman.

Hawks gained possession thanks to a penalty against Ayr, but the kick for touch didn't get them out of their own half and the line-out throw went too far, landing in the hands of Ayr flanker Andrew Dunlop.  It was swiftly fired through the backs but was knocked on.

Hawks had the first kick at goal after another Ayr infringement, but stand-off George Horne missed with five minutes on the clock.  Two minutes later and he lined up another, which hit the post.

Ayr's scrum-half David Armstrong had a good day under the high ball, and second row Scott Sutherland was on form, finding gaps in Hawks' tough defence.  He unleashed winger Robbie Fergusson for a break up the touchline, but the visitors' were ready with some ferocious tackles.

Although Ayr had the majority of the possession, they couldn't get anywhere, even with Armstrong taking a quick line-out to set former Hawks players Craig and Kerr Gossman loose.  They made some ground, but another knock-on handed a scrum to the visitors.

Hawks winger Tom Steven looked like their most threatening back but he found himself in the sin bin on the twenty minute mark after a late tackle on Ayr captain Dean Kelbrick.  Centre Kelbrick is another former Hawks player who joined Ayr three seasons ago and he had a not so friendly reminder of his old club as Steven slammed into him with his shoulder.  The match was quickly forgotten about as Ayr physio Helen McManus attended to the pole-axed Kelbrick and both teams took matters into their own hands.  Referee Lloyd Linton and his assistants calmed everyone down, and with Kelbrick back on his feet and Steven on the sidelines, play continued.

A superb kick for the line-out from Curle got Ayr deep into Hawks' half but the throw was not straight, and the home side lost their advantage by infringing at the resulting scrum.

They camped out in Hawks' half though and regained possession, Craig Gossman, Armstrong and Kerr Gossman combining to almost send Curle over for a try, had he not slipped chasing the ball.  Hawks gathered, but Kerr Gossman charged down the clearance, allowing Scott and second row Rob McAlpine to make for the tryline.  McAlpine was over but knocked on before grounding the ball.

Hawks had a few knocks-on too, as the ball and the pitch got a bit greasy in the autumn evening.  Despite good work from stand-off Danny McCluskey, Curle and props George Hunter and D'arcy Rae, Ayr couldn't hold on to the ball either. 

With Steven back on, Hawks pushed into Ayr's half and it was only some very tough Ayr defence, led by number eight Blair Macpherson, Dunlop and flanker Callum Templeton that prevented them getting past the five-metre line. 

The two sides continued to cancel each other out and the first half came to a conclusion with another yellow card for Hawks, this time lock Andy Kirkland finding himself dismissed for handling in the ruck.

Ayr took to the pitch for the second half with focus and purpose, driving from a line-out and releasing Kerr Gossman to dance his way through the defence to get into Hawks' twenty-two.  Curle, putting in another virtuoso performance, appeared from nowhere to fly on to a pass and just touch down under the posts for a try which he converted, with forty-three seconds on the clock.  7-0.

Curle made another break, with the move carried on by Templeton, Horne clinging on to his jersey and being dragged along the mud behind him.  Hawks found themselves off-side and Curle easily kicked the penalty.  10-0.

Knocks-on and forward passes followed, but Craig Gossman livened things up with a fifty-metre run from his own half. 

Hawks sharpened up their attack too, but strong tackles from Fergusson and Curle, who seemed to be everywhere at once, quelled any try-scoring ambitions.

It wasn't until the final quarter that Hawks registered any points.  Ayr were pinged at the scrum for not binding and Horne duly took the kick.  10-3.

A few minutes later and Ayr again infringed at the scrum.  Replacement back Jack Steele stepped up for the long-range penalty and struck it beautifully.  10-6.

It was Ayr's turn to have someone sent to the naughty step, with Templeton yellow carded.

The final ten minutes seemed to go on for ever.  Hawks got their tails up after Steele's kick and displayed some slick attacking moves, but Ayr turned them over and Kerr Gossman was again zig-zagging his way through the defence.  Older brother Craig, Armstrong and Kelbrick also looked good with ball in hand.

When Hawks did turn over, they kicked away possession and later knocked on, allowing Ayr back into their half, where Armstrong and replacement prop Stuart Fenwick pressed on.  The home side were patient and when McCluskey couldn't get the ball away to Craig Gossman, they simply waited for another chance. 

Fenwick and Armstrong mopped up a spill at a Hawks line-out in their own twenty-two and made for the line but couldn't cross it. 

Again, they bided their time in Hawks' half and after some toing and froing, Armstrong, replacement flanker Graham Fisken and Craig Gossman took play ever closer to the tryline.  A line-out in a prime position let McAlpine crash over in the misty gloom for a much-needed try.  Curle couldn't manage the wide penalty.  15-6.

A few minutes later and Curle had another kick at goal, this time a penalty, which he got.  18-6.

Time was up and Ayr headed back to the clubhouse glad to have got through a very tricky encounter with their old foes.

Final score: Ayr 18  Glasgow Hawks 6

- Elena Hogarth.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Craig Gossman in today's Scotsman

Ayr's winger/full back Craig Gossman talks to Gary Heatly in the sports section of today's Scotsman. 

Gossie chats about facing his old team Glasgow Hawks in the BT Premiership at Millbrae this afternoon and the season so far.

Read the article here.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Stewartry Sirens v Ayr Ladies preview

Ayr Ladies hit the road to Castle Douglas on Sunday to take on Stewartry Sirens at Greenlaw in the BT Women's National League Division 1.

The two sides have already played each other this season, with Ayr winning 22-12 at Millbrae in September.  But it will be a tough prospect away from home and Stewartry will be in buoyant mood, having recently beaten league leaders Cartha.

"We know what we need to do if we want to come back victorious," says Ayr Ladies assistant coach Sylvain Diez.  "Our collective defense will be key.  Line speed and one-on-one tackling has been very good so far.  We need to keep this up and make sure we don't give the Sirens any space as they have some really good runners such as their full back Hannah Sloan, who's been playing for Scotland recently."

He continues: "In attack we want to carry hard and go over the gain line early in the game.  Support will have to be quick; winning the race to the break down will be crucial to retain possession and score tries."

The ladies in pink and black will be bolstered by the return of captain Gemma Swankie, winger Lisa Main, forward Megan Thomson and back row Eilidh Thomson, who has recovered from a broken nose.

"We've got a strong squad and we, the coaches, had to make some tough decisions regarding the team selection, which is the kind of dilemma we would like to face more often," says Diez. 

Kick-off is 2pm!

Lowe called up to Scotland 7s

Ayr's Gavin Lowe has been called up to the Scotland sevens squad for the HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments in Dubai and South Africa in December.

Gavin re-joined Ayr this season after a short spell with Glasgow Hawks and played for the second XV last week in their win over Boroughmuir second XV after recovering from a broken jaw earlier in the season.

We wish him all the best in his international sevens debut!

Read the full story here.

Ayr v Glasgow Hawks preview

Ayr welcome west coast rivals Glasgow Hawks to Millbrae for their second clash in this season's BT Premiership.

It was a close contest when the two sides met at Hawks' temporary home of Balgray back in September, with Ayr edging the win 20-18, and Ayr's head coach Calum Forrester is expecting another such encounter tomorrow.

"This is going to be a physical derby match.  Hawks come into it full of confidence off the back of two good wins in the league and cup."

He continues: "The November break has been a positive for us in that it has allowed the players to have a rest and get over a few niggles from the first half of the season.  The intensity of training has remained high throughout in order to best prepare us for this weekend's match."

These two sets of players know each other very well, but there's also a familiar face behind the scenes as Ayr's former head coach Peter Laverie is now assisting at Hawks. 

The squad has a familiar look to it, with Forrester naming an unchanged backline from the previous two matches. 

In the forwards, openside flanker Will Bordill takes the place of Andrew Dunlop, who moves to the bench.

Ayr field a youthful front row in twenty-three-year-old George Hunter, twenty-two-year-old Fergus Scott and nineteen-year-old D'arcy Rae, all of whom, however fresh-faced, have plenty of experience of Premiership clashes.

15. Craig Gossman, 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Ross Curle, 12. Dean Kelbrick (capt), 11. Robbie Fergusson; 10. Danny McCluskey, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. D'arcy Rae; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Callum Templeton, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Blair Macpherson.

16. James Malcolm, 17. Stuart Fenwick, 18. Andrew Dunlop, 19. Graham Fisken, 20. Kerr Gossman.

Glasgow Hawks:
15. Andy Fleming, 14. Tom Steven, 13. Brendan McGroarty, 12. Davie Milne, 11. Paul Ramsay; 10. George Horne, 9. Paddy Boyer; 1. Steven Findlay, 2. Jack McFarlane, 3. Gary Strain; 4. Jonny Agnew, 5. Andy Kirkland; 6. Stephen Leckie, 7. Finn Gillies, 8. Tommy Spinks.

16. Grant Stewart, 17. Brendan Cullinane, 18. Scott Cummings, 19. Mateusz Bartoszek, 20. Jack Steele.

Kick-off 3pm!  Follow the scores live on Twitter.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Five Ayr players in Club Int squad

The first squad for the Scotland Club International fixtures has been named and five Ayr players have been included.

Hooker Fergus Scott, second row/back row Callum Templeton, second row Scott Sutherland, winger Craig Gossman and centre/stand-off Ross Curle are amongst the twenty-eight players who will work with coaches Phil Smith, Gordon Henderson and Jamie Parker to prepare for the matches against Ireland and England in February 2015.

Read the full story here.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Ayr Ladies 12 Cartha Ladies 15

Ayr Ladies found themselves in a fiercely contested second round match of the Sarah Beaney Cup on Sunday at Millbrae.  You only had to hear their opponents, Cartha Ladies, roaring at each other in the changing room before kick-off to know that it was going to be a tough encounter.

It was the home team who got off to the better start, with inside centre and captain Laura Turner taking advantage of the visitors' early handling errors to run round the defenders and score a try in the corner.  Jackie O'Neil couldn't manage the wide conversion.  5-0.

Considering Ayr had lost by more than fifty points when they faced Cartha in the league last month, it was a terrific start and a wake-up call for the visitors.

Ayr held their own at the early scrums, but they gave away a penalty in a kickable position and although it hit the crossbar, it bounced over for Cartha.  5-3.

Cartha displayed their good handling and running and put Ayr under pressure in their own half, but determined tackling from scrum-half Niamh Durnan, hooker Saara Vakiparta and number eight Lynda Morgan ensured they never got near the try-line.

When Ayr did get their hands on the ball, they were pinned into their own half by Cartha, who were perhaps over-zealous as they were warned several times about high tackles. 

The visitors dominated the line-out at times, but again their open play only got them so far before they ran into the ladies in pink and black, outside centre Daryl Paterson and winger Ann-Marie Connelly leading the way with some determined tackling.

Ayr's strong defence was forcing Cartha handling errors, but their full-back held on to the ball to take off on a dangerous-looking run only to find Vakiparta and stand-off Rachel Mulholland waiting to shove her into touch.

Mulholland was also on form in attack, proving a strong runner, as was full-back Catherine Shennan, but handling errors were creeping into Ayr's game too. 

It was already proving a bruising encounter; after a couple of the Cartha players were attended to by the physios, Ayr winger Sarah Paterson took a crack to the face, but got up and carried on.

It wasn't long before Cartha regained possession and out-ran the Ayr defence to an unconverted try in the corner.  5-8.

Ayr Ladies didn't get despondent though.  A fine restart kick put Cartha under pressure and the Ayr defence quickly swarmed round them to push them into touch and claim a line-out which they easily secured. 

It got slightly ragged from both sides, as the ball was knocked-on a few times more.  Cartha found themselves in a difficult position as Ayr stayed solid in the scrum in their opponents' twenty-two and the ball came flying out and bobbled around tantalisingly close to Cartha's try-line.  They gathered but knocked-on, giving Ayr the scrum this time.  Morgan picked up from the back and it was fired through the hands only for the referee to claim a knock-on, much to the chagrin of the crowd.

Ayr had another opportunity a few minutes later when Cartha were pinged for coming in from the side, but they couldn't get past the defenders. 

The second half began with an exchange of line-outs and it was Cartha who managed to launch the first dangerous attacks.  They were well snuffed out by Daryl Paterson and Connelly though, with Mulholland, Turner and O'Neil in on the act too.

The home team was once again trapped in their own half, with Turner making the only foray into enemy territory from a quick tap-and-go which unfortunately led to nothing. 

There was an enforced break as Ayr's second row Ruth Barclay-Paterson, who had been terrorising the opposition up until that point, was injured in a ruck and an ambulance was called. 

With Barclay-Paterson safely carried from the field and off to hospital, play resumed and Ayr were under the cosh again.  Cartha had two scrums in Ayr's twenty-two and when desperate defence led to a tap-and-go for the visitors, they barged over for a converted try.  5-15.

Ayr Ladies could have gone to pieces at this point, but they put their heads down and worked hard.  Props Louise McLauchlan and Lindsay Dick, flanker Laura Somerville and second row Zoe Montgomerie steadied the ship, whilst Vakiparta again put in some tough tackles.

But they were not happy when Shennan was the victim of a nasty-looking tackle and after replacement Megan Thomson and Daryl Paterson charged for the try-line, a scuffle broke out with the crowd accusing the visitors of foul play. 

Tempers were quickly calmed by both teams' back room staff and Ayr were awarded the penalty.  They couldn't make use of it, but moments later Cartha were again on the wrong side of Ayr, the crowd and this time the referee, who brandished a yellow card. 

With the one-player advantage, Turner dived over for her second try of the day, which almost resulted in yet more scrapping.  O'Neil lined up the conversion and despite half the Cartha team roaring and charging at her, calmly booted it between the uprights.  12-15.

Ayr pressed on for the remainder of the match, but good work from Daryl Paterson, Durnan and Mulholland couldn't get them another try.  But they did themselves proud with a very determined display against a vastly experienced side.

Final score: Ayr Ladies 12  Cartha Ladies 15.

- Elena Hogarth.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Ayr Ladies v Cartha Ladies preview

Ayr Ladies welcome Cartha Ladies to Millbrae tomorrow for their second round clash in the Sarah Beaney Cup.

The visitors currently top the BT Women's National League Division 1 and have already defeated Ayr Ladies in that league last month.  But they come into this match on the back of their first loss of the season and combined with the home advantage, the ladies in pink and black will be hoping to put in a strong performance.

"We can expect Cartha to come to Millbrae with a lot of intent and the desire to win this game," says Ayr Ladies assistant coach Sylvain Diez.  "They have a strong forward pack and our biggest challenge will be to match them in the set piece.  Our defense has been outstanding so far, so we need to keep this up and take any opportunities.  We must be clinical if we want to win this game."

Diez reckons the sixteenth (wo)man will be crucial for this tough encounter. 

"We hope a good crowd will turn up and help the girls to go through to the next stage of the Cup."

In the squad, Diez cites an absence and a return which could affect the Ladies' cause.

"We've lost our new backrow player Eilidh Thomson, who was injured last week in our win against Aberdeenshire.  But Ann-Marie Connelly is coming back from injury and will add some speed and magic to our back line."



Kick-off 2pm!  Free entry.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Ayr U20s beat Glasgow Uni Medics

Ayr under-20s took on the University of Glasgow Medics team at Millbrae last night and came away with a 24-5 win.

Chris Scott, Pete McCallum, Tony Boyd and Ross Anderson scored the tries, with Iain McKenzie getting two conversions.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

More caps for Millbrae trio

Mark Bennett and Finn Russell again start for Scotland on Saturday at BT Murrayfield, this time taking on New Zealand.  Their fellow former Ayr player Gordon Reid keeps his place on the bench, meaning he'll get the chance to add to his four caps.

All three played well in Scotland's 41-31 defeat of Argentina last week and will no doubt keep up their high standards against the All Blacks.  We're looking forward to a Finn and Gordy dance-off should Scotland pull off the victory!

Good luck to them!

Read the full story here.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Bennett and Russell start, Gordy on the bench for Scotland

Former Ayr players Mark Bennett, Finn Russell and Gordon Reid have been named in Scotland's squad to play Argentina on Saturday.

Bennett makes his international debut from outside centre, whilst Russell will run out at Murrayfield for the first time to earn his third cap and Reid will be hoping to make an impact from the bench and add to his three caps.

Read the full story here.

Good luck to all!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Ladies' Lunch now booking!

Ayr RFC's twelfth charitable Ladies' Lunch takes place on Saturday 21st February, which coincides with the first XV's last home league match of the season against Heriot's.

With demand high for this excellent event, our social co-ordinator Eilidh Rankin has already been contacted by many ladies registering their interest more than three months in advance. 

So please drop Eilidh an email if you would like to attend or just find out a bit more:

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Gala 14 Ayr 32

Ayr secured a very heartening away win over Gala to top the BT Premiership.

Nothing less than everything and the kitchen sink is expected at Netherdale, and that's what Gala threw at Ayr in the opening quarter.  The home side launched into attacking mode from the get-go, a clever cross-kick the pick of their tricks.

Ayr were sniffing out opportunities too, number eight Blair Macpherson starting things off from the back of a solid scrum.  Centre Ross Curle and full-back Craig Gossman then took over, allowing winger Robbie Fergusson to chip on, but Gala winger Lewis Young was on hand to ground the ball before an Ayr player could get to it.

And that was all in the opening three minutes.  Gala made the first infringement shortly after and Curle stepped up to knock over a penalty.  0-3.

The rain began and proved more of a problem for the Maroons, who knocked on several times.  When they held on to the ball, a nice slip pass unleashed centre Alan Emond and pushed them into Ayr's half. 

A couple of penalties against Ayr helped Gala's cause further and at thirteen minutes Young nipped over for a try.  Craig Dods easily converted in front of the posts.  7-3.

Ayr set to work, with captain Dean Kelbrick acting as a battering ram in the centre and flanker Andrew Dunlop and prop George Hunter crashing around the pitch.  Glasgow Warrior Jon Welsh made another welcome appearance for the men in pink and black and was on the charge. 

It was a good day for the mobile front row, with hooker Stuart Fenwick making breaks and superbly handing off a Gala defender, and combined with Hunter and Welsh, put Gala under pressure at the scrum.

The rain eased off and so did the match, with the intensity of both sides dipping.  Ayr received a blow when stand-off Danny McCluskey hurt his arm putting in a flying tackle and had to be escorted from the pitch.  He was replaced by Kerr Gossman.

At twenty-six minutes, Ayr gave away a penalty just inside their own half and Dods stepped up to the tee.  His kick had the distance but was wide.

Gala then infringed at the scrum and Curle's huge kick for the corner put Ayr in prime position to go for the try-line.  Hunter and Fenwick both went for it but couldn't get past the stubborn Gala defence.

An Ayr scrum moments later allowed Macpherson to launch himself at the line, clattering his way over an unfortunate Gala defender in the process, and get the ball down for a try.  Curle converted.  7-10.

Centre Gregor Young looked like he would get Gala back on track when he found himself in acres of space, but decided to kick on instead of passing to his team-mates.  Another attack from the home side a few minutes later looked promising but Ayr flanker Callum Templeton wouldn't be out-run by a back and hauled the Maroon to the ground. 

With Gala not releasing, Ayr got a line-out that allowed Fergusson to break away up the left wing, where good hands from Dunlop and Curle put Craig Gossman over for a try at thirty-eight minutes.  Curle missed the wide conversion.  7-15.

The second half began in a messy fashion with stolen line-outs and knocks on.  Dods summed up his team's afternoon when he kicked the ball straight into the backside of second row Opeta Palepoi.

Ayr scrum-half David Armstrong, second row Scott Sutherland, Fergusson and Curle put Gala under pressure in their own half and the home team were soon off-side, handing Curle another penalty chance at fifty minutes, which he took.  7-18.

Number eight Euan Dods cheered up the crowd, firing past the Ayr defence, but was tracked down by Armstrong and the ball was spilled, allowing Kerr Gossman to jink his way round the defenders.

Fergusson, Curle and Kelbrick showed off their nice hands in Gala's half, and Fergusson's deft little chip bounced sweetly for Craig Gossman to collect for his second try.  Curle converted.  7-25.

Gossman the elder soon found himself in trouble when he put in a dangerous tackle on Lewis Young, who after a few minutes on the ground thankfully got to his feet and played on.  Gossman spent ten minutes in the sin bin.

With the man advantage, and their devoted fans shouting them on, Gala ran amok and Euan Dods crossed for a try, after juggling the ball.  His full-back namesake got the conversion.  14-25.

It got a bit frantic after that, with breaks and chips and hacks.  Curle and Dunlop were in the thick of things, as was Kerr Gossman, who put in a much-needed bear-hug of a tackle to snuff out Gala. 

Second row Robert McAlpine and replacement prop Fraser Watt looked to be on to something but a knock-on brought it to a premature end.  Gala found themselves off-side again with ten minutes to go, but Curle couldn't manage the penalty kick.

Curle delighted the crowd when he was set on his backside by the slippery conditions but that was the last thing they had to laugh at as their team drifted away.  Craig Gossman, winger Richard Dalgleish and Kerr Gossman had them groaning in despair as they marauded their way round the pitch.

A small scuffle broke out but nothing came of it.  An Ayr line-out let them trundle towards the try-line and Hunter looked to be over but was held up.

A couple of scrums for Ayr followed and after some patient play, McAlpine slammed his way through the defence to get the bonus point try, converted by Curle.  14-32

Gala still pressed on with the clock ticking towards eighty minutes.  Replacement Grayson Hart set off on an exciting run, supported by Euan Dods and Gary Graham.  Emond couldn't continue their good work though as he was felled by Fergusson.  The whistle for full-time went soon after to send the crowd home disappointed and the visitors home happy.

Final score: Gala 14 Ayr 32.

- Elena Hogarth.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Ross Curle in today's Scotsman

Ayr's Ross Curle talks to Gary Heatly in the sports section of today's Scotsman.  Ross discusses Ayr's prospects against Gala at Netherdale and his experiences of playing professional rugby in Italy as a teenager.

Read the full article here.