Saturday, 7 November 2015

Ayr 23 Glasgow Hawks 15

The day after the club fireworks night, sparks were expected to fly between Ayr and west coast rivals Glasgow Hawks, but the muddy Millbrae pitch put a dampener on proceedings.

It had rained all morning and after a short break, it began bucketing down just after kick-off.  It seemed near impossible for either side to keep a hold of the ball.

Ayr got stuck in their own half and Hawks' Gregor Hunter punished their infringements with an early penalty.  0-3.

He had another two shots at goal in the first half, but missed both.  The second came after Ayr's full-back Grant Anderson was sin-binned for tackling the man without the ball.

There were a lot of kicks, some good, some wayward.  Ayr scrum-half David Armstrong was on form with his kicking from hand, as was winger Cameron Taylor.

Hawks were boosted by the presence of Glasgow Warriors James Eddie and Jerry Yanuyanutawa, and the former was able to make metres with ball in hand when others couldn't - until Ayr flanker Will Bordill felled him with an almighty thwack.

Ayr lost experienced second row Scott Sutherland to injury and his replacement Blair Macpherson got stuck straight into a scrum, which Hawks wheeled, giving Ayr their first chance at points.  Stand-off Frazier Climo got the kick.  3-3.

There were no more scores in the first half, but plenty of spills and some excellent charging around, from Bordill in particular, to cause handling errors from the visitors.  His fellow flanker, and man of the match, Andrew Dunlop was also throwing himself into the defence along with October player of the month Pete McCallum.

With the rain off, things picked up in the second half.  Climo put Ayr in front with another penalty.  6-3.

It didn't last long as Hawks quickly pushed their way into Ayr's half and after a steady line-out, the ball flew across the park for their captain Brendan McGroarty to go over for a try.  Hunter missed the conversion.  6-8.

Ayr replied soon after, despite Hawks guarding their line ferociously.  A solid scrum on the greasy surface allowed replacement prop Javan Sebastian to rumble from the twenty-two and some careful handling from the men in pink and black got them into a good position to pile over.  Prop George Hunter emerged as the scorer.  Climo converted.  13-8.

They almost had another after a superb turnover orchestrated by Macpherson sent winger Haddon McPherson scurrying for the line, but the referee didn't give the score.  Moments later and Climo nailed a long-range penalty.  16-8.

Some fancy footwork from Anderson got Ayr into Hawks' half and Climo raced over in the corner.  He did well to get the conversion from such a tight angle.  23-8.

The Old Anniesland side are never ones to capitulate, especially against Ayr, and once again it was Eddie who was on the attack.  Armstrong just got to him in the nick of time, hauling down the big man before he could do any damage.

There's always a bit of friction between these two sides and the tiniest of scuffles broke out, but all players concerned looked too done-in to take it any further.  Running around in mud is tiring stuff.

Hawks' winger Paul Ramsay looked full of energy though and his jinking run got his team into Ayr's half.  There were a few more handling errors and a great tackle by Ayr replacement scrum-half Jack Preston before Hawks could get any more points.

A beautiful kick and catch from the visiting Hunter released full-back Robbie Houliston and he would have got to the line were it not for Taylor, who appeared out of nowhere to drag him down.  Hawks wouldn't be denied, however, and replacement Erlend Oag claimed the try, which Hunter converted.  23-15.

Hawks thought they had time to stage a comeback, or at least get the losing bonus point, but the clock and those pesky knocks-on did for them.

It wasn't pretty but Ayr will be glad to have got the win to increase their lead to nine points in the BT Premiership.  It's back-to-back away games now, and they face two stern tests against Boroughmuir and Melrose.

Final score: Ayr 23 Glasgow Hawks 15.

- Elena Hogarth.

Photos by George McMillan.

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