Friday, 30 January 2015

Ayr Ladies v Broughton preview

It's another important match for Ayr Ladies in the BT Women's National League Division 1 as they welcome Broughton to Millbrae on Sunday.

The visitors are hot on Ayr's heels in the table, where the ladies in pink and black sit in second place, so it will surely be a fiercely contested fixture.  But the home side will be feeling confident after their 20-5 win over Cartha last Sunday.

"We are delighted with the victory last week, with a bonus point as well," says Ayr Ladies assistant coach Sylvain Diez.  "From last Sunday's performance, we need to keep up our defence.  Our organisation and patience were the key to our success."

He continues: "Broughton have a strong defence and managed to beat us with a couple of superb tries in Edinburgh in 2014.  We need to improve our set piece platform to get more opportunities in attack.  The girls are on good form though and we have a great team spirit.  This game will be a must-watch!"

The under-15 girls are also playing at home on Sunday, kicking off at 11.30am against Biggar in the quarter-final of the Brewin Dolphin U15s Girls Cup.

15. Catherine Shennan; 14. Jackie O'Neil, 13. Daryl Paterson, 12. Laura Turner, 11. Ann-Marie Connelly; 10. Rachael Mulholland, 9. Niamh Durnan; 1. Louise McLauchlan, 2. Gemma Swankie (capt), 3. Lindsay Dick; 4. Ashleigh Nelson, 5. Zoe Montgomerie; 6. Eilidh Thomson, 7. Laura Somerville, 8. Lynda Morgan.

16. Megan Thomson, 17. Fiona Daly, 18. Phoebe McDowall.

Kick-off 2pm!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Celebrate the Auld Alliance at Millbrae

You are cordially invited to Millbrae on Saturday 7th February to celebrate the historic links between Scotland and France with fine food and hopefully great rugby.

France v Scotland will be shown live on the big screen in the clubhouse and delicacies straight from France will be on offer from £5 per person, with the fun kicking off at 4pm.

Curle gets a brace for Club XV

The Scotland Club XV were beaten 30-17 by the Scotland under-20s in a training match on the back pitches at BT Murrayfield last night which featured a few Ayr players.

Ross Curle scored two tries for the club side, whilst Craig Gossman, Scott Sutherland and Callum Templeton started and Fergus Scott was on the bench.

Read match reports in The Herald and The Scotsman.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Lowe back on Scotland 7s duty

Ayr's Gavin Lowe has been recalled to the Scotland Sevens squad for their upcoming tournaments in New Zealand and the United States.

Gavin will be hoping to add to his two caps earlier in the season when he was with the squad for tournaments in South Africa and the UAE.  He last turned out for Ayr at the beginning of January during the 1st XV's BT Cup third round win against Hamilton.

We wish him and the whole squad the best of luck.

Read the full story here.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Ayr players in Club Int warm-up

The Scotland Club XV will have a warm-up game against the Scotland under-20s at BT Murrayfield tomorrow evening and several Ayr players are involved.

Ross Curle, Scott Sutherland and Callum Templeton start, whilst Fergus Scott, Will Bordill and Craig Gossman are amongst the extended list of replacements.

The match kicks off at 7.30pm and is open to the public.  Entry is free.

Read the full story here.

January player of the month poll open!

Online voting for this month's player of the month poll is now open!

The poll includes the men's 1st XV players who have made two or more appearances during January.

Voting closes on Saturday at 12pm, with the results made public soon after.

Vote here.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Ayr U18s 23 Boroughmuir U18s 0

Ayr's under-18 boys put in a dominant display on Saturday to beat their Boroughmuir counterparts and move into the semi-finals of their National Youth Cup.

A good-sized crowd turned up at Millbrae and had plenty to cheer about.  Ayr were straight into action, with a couple of strong scrums and some fine early attacks from openside flanker Gregor Henry and inside centre Sam Graham.  When Boroughmuir did get their hands on the ball, Graham, stand-off Johnny McCorkindale and left wing Callum Cook put in good tackles.

It wasn't long before the home side were pressing for the line, Henry and prop Ruairidh Sayce leading the way, but Boroughmuir managed to hold them up.

Number eight Zander Howie, Graham, outside centre Gregor Paxton and McCorkindale tried again but were unsuccessful.  A couple of line-outs got them in a great position and after a short drive, second row Kyle Wood scurried over for the opening try.  McCorkindale's conversion attempt was short.  5-0.

Boroughmuir pressed on into Ayr's half but Henry and prop Brian Kelly were quick to close them down and when the visitors found themselves offside, the ensuing line-out unleashed hooker Gregor Lynch, who set off on the first of a few barrelling runs.

A heavy downpour sent the replacements hurrying into the stands, but didn't dampen the enthusiasm of Cook, whose speedy break unfortunately came to nothing.  Boroughmuir's backs, too, fancied stretching their legs but couldn't escape the attentions of Graham.

Ayr were solid in the line-out, with second row Ross Hay proving a safe pair of hands.  This allowed Paxton and full-back Mark Conlan to move the action back into Boroughmuir's half, but the visitors snuffed out the threat.

The next opportunity for points came from a Boroughmuir infringement and McCorkindale stepped up to the tee and easily got the penalty.  8-0.

The literal spring in Hay's step wasn't restricted to the line-out, as he leapt into the air to claim the restart and take off on a twenty-five-metre run.  The backs took the ball on and moments later, Ayr were awarded a penalty.  It looked like they would drive from the line-out, but an enormous shove from Boroughmuir forced them away from the try-line.

Boroughmuir tried to run the ball from the their own half, but ended up giving away another penalty in a kickable position and McCorkindale booted it over.  11-0.

The second half began at pace, with the ball bobbling about from a Boroughmuir line-out.  Graham pounced and kicked on but the visitors managed to get to it before any damage could be done.

The visitors made a few more errors but their enthusiasm didn't waver, as exemplified by their dynamic prop who amused the crowd with some moves straight from the dressage paddock.

Ayr right wing Sam Gray and scrum-half Lewis Young were quick to put a stop to any more attacks from Boroughmuir and soon Young, Henry and Hay were trying to bundle their way over the try-line.

With a Boroughmuir player in the sin bin, Ayr took the line-out and Howie emerged as the try-scorer from the pile-up.  McCorkindale couldn't get the tricky conversion.  16-0.

Each side traded possession, with Hay and Sayce leading the attack and Henry and blindside flanker Matt Northcote putting in the tackles.

The game lost its shape a little with several scrums for both teams going nowhere, but Ayr showed patience and before too long Young grabbed the ball from the back of the ruck and dived over for the try.  McCorkindale converted.  23-0.

Ayr didn't slack off with a few minutes remaining, replacement back Billy Thomson looking lively and Henry demonstrating two great hand-offs to slip through the Boroughmuir defence.  But they couldn't get any more points and the referee blew the whistle to bring to an end a satisfying afternoon for Ayr's youngsters.

15. Mark Conlan; 14. Sam Gray, 13. Gregor Paxton, 12. Sam Graham, 11. Callum Cook; 10, Johnny McCorkindale, 9. Lewis Young; 1. Brian Kelly, 2. Gregor Lynch, 3. Ruairidh Sayce; 4. Kyle Wood, 5. Ross Hay; 6. Matt Northcote, 7. Gregor Henry, 8. Zander Howie.

16. Dean Rickard, 17. Kyle McNulty, 18. Stewart Angus, 19. Tony Hall, 20. Callum Ross, 22. Billy Thomson.

- Elena Hogarth.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Ayr Ladies v Cartha Ladies preview

Ayr Ladies welcome Cartha Ladies to Millbrae on Sunday for the second time this season and will be looking to avenge their narrow Sarah Beaney Cup defeat back in November.

Cartha currently sit atop the BT National Women's League Division 1 table, so the ladies in pink and black will need to be on fine form to overcome them.

"So far, Cartha have beaten us twice, away in the league and at home in the cup," says Ayr Ladies assistant coach Sylvain Diez, "so we know their strengths now.  They have a strong pack and their defence is very well organised."

The league has had a month-long break and the ladies are looking forward to getting back to competition.

"We are all very excited about starting 2015 with a home game," continues Diez.  "Our ability to score after more than three or four phases has improved massively and we will have to demonstrate this against Cartha.  If we want to score tries, we must keep the ball and be very clinical."

He concludes: "A victory would see us move to second place in the league and give us a confidence boost for the end of the season."


Kick-off 2pm!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Currie v Ayr preview

Ayr head to Malleny Park tomorrow to take on Currie and try to restore some confidence in their BT Premiership campaign after two disappointing results in recent weeks.

"Our failure to convert our chances and poor discipline have cost us dearly in the last couple of matches," states Ayr head coach Calum Forrester.

"We will need to be at the top of our game tomorrow, as we look to get our season back on track," he continues.  "Currie have been playing well recently and we expect another physical encounter against them this weekend as they look to push into the top four."

It will be a tough match as Currie always play fiercely on home turf, and the men in pink and black will be up against a couple of Glasgow Warriors and internationalists in centre James Downey (capped for Ireland) and lock Tom Ryder (capped for Scotland).

There's a bit of reshuffling in the Ayr squad, with Ross Curle moving from outside centre to stand-off and Murray McConnell taking over at scrum-half from David Armstrong, who moves to the bench.  In the forwards, Will Bordill comes in for Andrew Dunlop at openside flanker.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick (capt), 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Ross Curle, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. George Hunter, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. Fraser Watt; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Callum Templeton, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Graham Fisken.

16. James Malcolm, 17. Stuart Fenwick, 18. Blair Macpherson, 19. David Armstrong, 20. Danny McCluskey.

15. Harvey Elms; 14. Robbie Nairn, 13. Joe Reynolds, 12. James Downey, 11. Ruaridh Smith; 10. James Semple, 9. Richard Sneddon; 1. John Cox, 2. Matt Goodwin, 3. Graeme Carson; 4. Romain Denonain, 5. Tom Ryder; 6. Travis Brooke, 7. Malcolm Peacock, 8. Ross Weston (capt).

16. Alistair Hamilton, 17. Mike Erskine, 18. Jamie Gray, 19. Mike Vernal, 20. Matt McPhillips.

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

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

ScrumReady Workshop at Millbrae

A scrummaging workshop will take place at Millbrae on Wednesday 25th February from 7pm to 9pm.

The workshop is being run by Scottish Rugby Coach Development & Education and is free to attend.

Book your place here.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Ayr 17 Boroughmuir 21

There was a sense of deja vu as Ayr took to a soggy pitch on a freezing day against the BT Premiership's lowest placed side fighting for their league life and came away with a disappointing loss.  Last week, it was Edinburgh Accies who got the win against Ayr and this Saturday it was Boroughmuir.

The match began half an hour late after Boroughmuir's bus broke down en route to Millbrae, but when things did get underway, it was the home team who had the better start. 

Scrum-half David Armstrong had a couple of great takes under the high ball and flanker Andrew Dunlop charged down an attempted clearance and chased it like a gazelle, leading to a penalty chance for outside centre Ross Curle, which he unfortunately couldn't get.

Things got worse for the visitors when flanker Mike Entwhistle found himself in the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on winger Craig Gossman and Curle lined up another penalty.  It hit the post this time.

A scrum each and a knock-on each followed by a couple of line-outs for Ayr let galloping prop George Hunter away, with number eight Graham Fisken, second row Scott Sutherland and inside centre Dean Kelbrick in support.  But Boroughmuir turned it over and cleared.

Boroughmuir tried to mess up Ayr's attack, but Armstrong rescued things and Fisken was let loose, bashing a defender out of the way.  Curle displayed lovely handling on such a cold afternoon, clinging on to a wobbly pass and releasing Hunter, who passed on to stand-off Danny McCluskey.  But it all got a bit scrappy, with the ball patted about on Boroughmuir's five-metre line until it went flying off the pitch.

Ayr stayed in Boroughmuir's half for a period, with Curle, Kelbrick and Gossman firing the ball about, until Curle had another shot at goal, missing again.

Ayr were dealt a blow when they lost Hunter to injury and soon the visitors were rumbling towards the line.  They were shoved out by Ayr's defenders.  A few moments later and Ayr were pinged for not rolling away and Carl Bezuidenhout kicked the penalty.  0-3.

A promising Ayr attack was launched by yet another terrific catch by Armstrong.  It was taken on by full-back Grant Anderson, passed back to Armstrong and then Dunlop, but Ayr were halted for crossing.

It was Boroughmuir's turn to break, winger Grant McConnell leading the way with an electrifying run.  It was brought to an end by a superb tackle from Ayr flanker Callum Templeton which created a turnover.  Gossman set off up the wing but his chip ahead went straight out. 

After a missed kick for the corner and later a squint line-out from Boroughmuir, McCluskey took the ball from the Ayr scrum and had the crowd cheering with a wonderful run which saw him slip through the Boroughmuir defence.  It unfortunately ended with a forward pass.

Gossman took off up the wing again but was closed down by Entwhistle.  He was so determined to catch Ayr's diminutive flier that he propelled himself off the pitch and almost took out the mascot.

Armstrong spotted a gap and scurried his way round the defence to release Kelbrick.  Dunlop was on hand to move things on, as was Curle.  Winger Robbie Fergusson raced off and chipped ahead only for a Boroughmuir defender to ground the ball.

Armstrong was off again but his pass to Gossman was judged forward and the hard-working scrum-half, after thirty-eight excellent minutes, was substituted by Murray McConnell.  But it was a brief cameo for the Glasgow Warrior as he was dismayed to be shown a yellow card for a tackle.

With the Ayr McConnell in the bin, his Boroughmuir namesake nipped over for a try, which went unconverted.  0-8.

With Ayr in clean shirts for the second half, they looked to get on the scoreboard but just couldn't.  Entwhistle dived on the ball in the corner to get another unconverted try.  0-13.

Soon after, Curle had the chance for three points with a penalty which he easily got.  3-13.

However, Bezuidenhout did the same moments later.  3-16.

A terrible mix-up amongst the Ayr defenders left the ball bobbling about in their twenty-two and Boroughmuir inside centre David Reekie grabbed his side's third try.  Bezuidenhout again missed the conversion.  3-21.

Templeton and replacement prop Stuart Fenwick led Ayr's charge and they camped out on Boroughmuir's five-metre line until Murray McConnell took the quick one and sprung over for a much needed try.  Curle got the conversion.  10-21.

Boroughmuir were back in it though, with outside centre Sam Beard making for the line, only to be bundled into touch by the home defence.

Ayr snaffled a few Boroughmuir line-outs throughout the afternoon but they couldn't do anything with the steals.  The visitors, though, combined lively play with great patience and the likes of Fergusson, Kelbrick and Templeton were kept busy dragging their attackers into the mud.

Fisken was left to roam for Ayr, speeding off again through the defence.  The resulting chip went too far and such was Ayr's desperation to get the try that whoever was chasing it slid head-first into an advertising board.

The home team kept up the pressure in Boroughmuir's half, scrumming away doggedly until their opponents infringed one too many times and the referee trotted over to the posts to award the penalty try.  Curle quickly converted.  17-21.

With five minutes left, it was Fisken who charged on but he was unfortunately tackled high.  The ensuing penalty and line-out got Ayr into an excellent position to get another try but all credit must go to the strong Boroughmuir defence for not letting them through.

As the whistle went to end the match, Boroughmuir deservedly celebrated having lifted themselves off the bottom of the BT Premiership table and Ayr were left to mull over another disappointing afternoon.

Final score: Ayr 17 Boroughmuir 21.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Cup quarters for U18s & U16s

It's a Boroughmuir all-rounder this weekend as the men's first and second XVs and under-18s and under-16s boys take on the visitors from Meggatland.

The under-16s play on Sunday, kick-off 2pm, whilst the under-18s play on Saturday at Millbrae, kick-off 2pm, in their respective age-grade National Youth Cup quarter-finals. 

The under-16s won the competition last year, whilst the under-18s will be seeking revenge against Boroughmuir who beat them earlier in the season with the last kick of the game.

Under-18s team:
15. Mark Conlan; 14. Sam Gray, 13. Gregor Henry (capt), 12. Sam Graham, 11. Callum Cook; 10. Johnny McCorkindale, 9. Michael Manning; 1. Brian Kelly, 2. Gregor Lynch, 3. Ruairidh Sayce; 4. Tony Hall, 5. Ross Hay; 6. Matt Northcote, 7. Kyle Wood, 8. Zander Howie.

16. Dean Rickard, 17. Kyle McNulty, 18. Stewart Angus, 19. Billy Thomson, 20. Lewis Young, 21. Zac Howard, 22. Gregor Paxton.

Read about the other ties in the competitions here.

Good luck to all!

Burns-themed lunch at Currie RFC

Currie RFC have very kindly extended an invitation to a Burns-themed lunch to Ayr members and supporters to take place before the two clubs' BT Premiership match on Saturday 24th January at Malleny Park.

The menu consists of homemade Scotch broth; haggis, neeps and tatties served with a whisky and course-grained mustard sauce; and coffee with tablet.  It is £18 per person.

If you wish to book for the lunch, please contact Donna on or call the clubhouse on 0131 449 2432.  Closing date for reservations is Thursday 22nd January at 6pm.

Ayr v Boroughmuir preview

Ayr have their first match at Millbrae for more than a month and it is a must-win BT Premiership clash with Boroughmuir.
Just like last week against Edinburgh Accies, the men in pink and black take on a team trying to hold on to their place in the league, as the visitors are currently at the bottom of the table.  But hopefully there will be a better outcome on home soil for Ayr.
Head coach Calum Forrester knows only too well the dangers of facing a wounded animal.
"Boroughmuir are fighting for their Premiership survival and we are under no illusion of how tough a match this will be.  Last week we were punished for not taking our chances and we will need to be more clinical in our attack against Boroughmuir."
The Meggatland side has been bolstered by the release of Edinburgh players Sam Beard, Carl Bezuidenhout and Simon Bergham, who join a more than capable starting XV.  Ayr will be keen to close down Boroughmuir's speedy backs and quell the threat of their experienced forwards.
In the Ayr squad, there are a few changes, with Fergus Scott starting at hooker and Danny McCluskey's promotion from the bench meaning Ross Curle moves from stand-off to outside centre and Robbie Fergusson shuffles along to the right wing.
The fans at Millbrae will be happy to see that Murray McConnell has been released by Glasgow Warriors and takes his place amongst the substitutes after turning out for Glasgow A earlier in the week.
15. Grant Anderson; 14. Robbie Fergusson, 13. Ross Curle, 12. Dean Kelbrick (capt), 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Danny McCluskey, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Fergus Scott, 3. Fraser Watt; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Callum Templeton, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Graham Fisken.
16. David Young, 17. Stuart Fenwick, 18. Blair Macpherson, 19. Murray McConnell, 20. Richard Dalgleish.
15. Craig Marshall; 14. Grant McConnell, 13. Sam Beard, 12. David Reekie, 11. Jordan Edmunds; 10. Carl Bezuidenhout, 9. Johnny Adams; 1. Robbie Wilson, 2. Johnny Latta, 3. Simon Bergham; 4. Trent Sutton, 5. Adam Best; 6. Andy Rose, 7. Mike Entwhistle, 8. Iain Moody.
16. Stuart Clark, 17. Craig Keddie, 18. Neil Rodger, 19. Sam Johnson, 20. Chris Laidlaw.
Kick-off 3pm!  If you can't make it, follow the scores live on Twitter.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Edinburgh Accies 11 Ayr 8

Ayr were were beaten by an Edinburgh Accies side desperately fighting for their BT Premiership existance yesterday at a horribly cold and snowy Raeburn Place.

The weather was calm as things kicked off, but the home team were all het up, getting the early turnover and applying pressure in Ayr's half.  But with barely a minute on the clock, the hosts knocked on, setting the tone for the afternoon.  The match may have had the drama, but it didn't have the quality as handling errors from both teams plagued proceedings.

A barrelling run from prop Fraser Watt was Ayr's first attacking attempt and an infringement at the scrum by Accies let the visitors kick for the corner and launch a proper assault from the line-out.  Alas, they were pinged for holding on.

The snow began to fall steadily and there were a few gusts of wind, shaking Accies' old rickety stand, which thankfully stayed rooted to that historic turf and didn't take off over Stockbridge. 

Accies displayed some solid line-outs, but as the snowfall increased and hands numbed, nobody could hold on to the ball.  The first points came from an infringement at the scrum by Ayr and Accies' winger Callum Ramm stepped up to the tee.  3-0.

A few minutes later and the tables were turned, with the referee penalising the home side at the scrum and Ayr's stand-off Ross Curle kicking the three points.  3-3.

Accies managed to string together some attacking play but were stopped in their tracks by Ayr captain Dean Kelbrick, flanker Callum Templeton and second row Rob McAlpine.  They were soon off-side though.

However, the visitors snaffled the ball moments after a decent Accies line-out and centre Robbie Fergusson shot off with scrum-half David Armstrong and full-back Grant Anderson in support.  The ball came back to Fergusson who chipped ahead in Accies' twenty-two only for home full-back Ruairidh Young to save his team's blushes.

Fergusson again tried to breach the strong Accies' defence, with second row Scott Sutherland having a go too but there was no way through. 

Ayr had a few line-outs but could launch nothing from them and both teams traded some ineffectual kicks as the snow almost got to blizzard level.  McAlpine, Armstrong, prop George Hunter and Glasgow Warrior Dougie Hall all had a go with ball in hand to no avail.

Another penalty against Ayr saw Accies kick for the corner only for Armstrong to balletically leap into the air and keep the ball in play and clear.  Accies' line-out at half-way let number eight Ronan Seydak trundle off on a promising-looking break but again, nothing came of it.

More penalties, line-outs and knocks on occured before the referee signalled half-time.

Ayr began the second half with real impetus, number eight Blair Macpherson, winger Craig Gossman, Fergusson, Curle and Watt making ground.  It looked like Sutherland had fought his way over for a try only for the doughty home defence to hold him up.

Moments later and Macpherson and Armstrong pushed for the line but got nowhere.  It was McAlpine who finally threw himself over for the try.  Curle missed the conversion in the swirling snowstorm.  3-8.

Things went downhill for Ayr after that one bright moment, with Curle sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle after initially having received just a ticking off from the referee.  The touch judge intervened though and Curle was called back to be dismissed for ten minutes.  Ramm easily got the penalty.  6-8.

More knocks-on ensued before Ayr's respective replacement back row and prop Graham Fisken and Stuart Fenwick livened things up and Fergusson showed some deft handling in the raw conditions. 

But it was a mess and Ayr were outmuscled at the scrum, allowing Young to scramble over in the corner for a try.  Ramm's conversion was short.  11-8.

Ayr tried to regain the upper hand - if they ever had it at all - with Armstrong superbly springing up for a high ball and launching his backs into attack, but they chucked the ball into touch, much to the amusement of the small yet vociferous Raeburn Place crowd.

The sides traded line-outs and scrums and kicks that went nowhere in the falling snow until the clock ran down and Accies gleefully booted the ball off the pitch and celebrated their vital win.  They live to fight another day and Ayr will be glad to get back to the home comforts of Millbrae next week.

Final score: Edinburgh Accies 11 Ayr 8.

- Elena Hogarth.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Watsonians v Ayr Ladies preview

Ayr Ladies take to the road for their first fixture of the new year against Watsonians in the BT Women's National League Division 1 on Sunday.

After a break of more than a month, the ladies will be raring to go; not that they've been resting on their laurels, with training and fitness sessions throughout the festive season.

It will be a difficult encounter against Watsonians, who are just two points below them in the table.  The ladies in pink and black beat them 31-24 at Millbrae earlier in the season and will be hoping for the same outcome in Edinburgh this weekend. 

15. Catherine Shennan; 14. Lisa Main, 13. Daryl Paterson, 12. Laura Turner, 11. Jackie O'Neil; 10. Rachael Mulholland, 9. Niamh Durnan; 1. Louise McLauchlan, 2. Gemma Swankie (capt), 3. Lindsay Dick; 4. Ashleigh Nelson, 5. Lynda Morgan; 6. Eilidh Thomson, 7. Laura Somerville, 8. Kirstin Daly.

Kick-off 2pm!

Friday, 9 January 2015

Edinburgh Accies v Ayr preview

It's a return to league business for Ayr tomorrow as they head east to take on Edinburgh Accies in the BT Premiership.

The men in pink and black may have put fifty points on the board against BT National League Division 2 side Hamilton in round three of the BT Cup last Saturday, but Ayr head coach Calum Forrester knows this week's opponents will be a different kettle of fish.

"We will need to sharpen up our defence against a dangerous Edinburgh Accies side who ran us very close at Millbrae earlier in the season," he says.  "This is a must win game for us as we look to maintain our place in the top four as we head into the next block of BT Premiership matches."

This could be a very tricky encounter, not least because bottom-of-the-table Accies will be fighting tooth and nail for a win at their historic home of Raeburn Place, but also due to the forecast of strong winds, rain and snow.  With the likes of talented young prop Alex Allan and speedy centre Chris Dean in the starting XV, Accies are not to be easily dismissed.

There are some noted additions to the Ayr squad this week, with Ross Curle taking over at stand-off from Gavin Lowe, who is retained by Scotland Sevens.  After becoming a father to a baby boy last week, Grant Anderson returns at full-back.

In the forwards, Glasgow Warriors hooker Dougie Hall makes another welcome appearance for Ayr, and flanker Callum Templeton lines up in a lively back row alongside Andrew Dunlop and Blair Macpherson.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick (capt), 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Ross Curle, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Dougie Hall, 3. Fraser Watt; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Callum Templeton, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Blair Macpherson.

16. Fergus Scott, 17. Stuart Fenwick, 18. Pete McCallum, 19. Graham Fisken, 20. Danny McCluskey.

Edinburgh Accies:
15.Ruairidh Young; 14. Robert Wilson, 13. Chris Dean, 12. Iain Berthinussen, 11. Jack Marples; 10. Alex Glashan, 9. James Munro; 1. Alex Allan, 2. Michael Liness, 3. Lewis Niven; 4. Greg Campbell, 5. Alex Toolis; 6. Robin Snape, 7. Jamie Sole, 8. Ronan Seydak.

16. David Bates, 17. Duncan Morrison, 18. Jamie McCarthy, 19. Ryan Godsmark, 20. Callum Ramm.

Kick-off 2pm!  Follow the scores live on Twitter.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Hamilton 19 Ayr 50

Ayr ran in eight tries against an energetic Hamilton to progress to the quarter-final stage of the BT Cup on a sunny afternoon at Laigh Bent.

The match was preceded by a minute's silence in memory of former Ayr player Richard Logg, who very sadly passed away on Boxing Day.

The BT National League Division 2 home side began well with a solid period of possession, but they were soon turned over by the BT Premiership visitors, with outside centre Robbie Fergusson hacking on for Ayr's first foray to Hamilton's try-line. 

Hamilton tidied the loose ball up, but minutes later, Ayr's stand-off Gavin Lowe chipped on for full-back Craig Gossman to chase and collect for the opening try.  Lowe converted, despite the bright winter sun streaming on to his eyeline.  0-7.

Hamilton were looking good at the set pieces, but Ayr managed some poaching at the line-out and second row Scott Sutherland set off on the first of a few charges.  The ball was fired through several Ayr hands - captain Dean Kelbrick falling on his knees at one point to keep it alive - but a forward pass was thrown and Hamilton gladly scrummed down.

Hamilton were adventurous with ball in hand, wingers Craig Skilling and Martin Kennedy keen to have a run around, but they were also tenacious in defence with full-back Scott Whiteside and flanker Ben Wilson putting in some thumping tackles.

They had the home crowd cheering when a little kick from centre David Deuchar bobbled over Ayr's try-line.  Scrum-half David Armstrong saved his team's blushes by pouncing on it, but moments later his opposite number Stephen Turnbull scampered over for Hamilton's first try.  Stand-off Owen McLeish converted from a tricky angle.  7-7.

Ayr had to work hard to get out of their own half, with Kelbrick, Sutherland, lock Rob McAlpine and prop Stuart Fenwick on the attack, but again they were undone by a forward pass. 

A few more sturdy scrums from Hamilton steadied the ship, but they couldn't contain Gossman and he soon flew over for another try, again converted by Lowe.  7-14.

Gossman was once more slicing his way through the defence after flanker Graham Fisken galloped off, and it was Fergusson who ran in for the try.  Lowe's conversion attempt was short.  7-19.

Hamilton refused to wilt and bashed their way through the Ayr defence to allow Skilling to get their second try, converted by McLeish.  14-19.

Ayr winger Cammy Taylor grabbed the restart and raced off but a few phases later and the visitors were penalised for diving over.  Hamilton's resulting line-out was good but they knocked on as they tried to release their backs and then collapsed the ensuing scrum.

Ayr launched another attack from a line-out, with number eight Pete McCallum leading the way.  The ball found winger Richard Dalgleish and he scored in the corner.  Lowe couldn't convert.  14-24.

Hamilton tried to apply some pressure but could do nothing to quell Ayr's rampaging scrum.  The ball was soon moving from side to side before McAlpine got his paws on it and dived over for another Ayr try.  Lowe's conversion attempt from out wide was again short.  14-29.

The home team looked like scoring just at the start of the second half, with captain Andrew Hill, flanker Scott Alexander and Skilling combining well to charge into Ayr's twenty-two.  But the ball went loose just at the try-line. 

A scrum and a line-out for Ayr gave them the upper hand and McCallum cantered off into Hamilton's half before being tracked down by their tacklers.  A few handling errors by the visitors broke the game up briefly, but they regained possession and replacement prop George Hunter blasted his way to the try-line.  He couldn't make it, but a scrum for Ayr let McCallum dive over under the posts.  Lowe converted.  14-36.

Sutherland launched himself on to the ball at the restart and released Gossman, but Ayr were pinged for crossing.  A couple of line-outs from Hamilton got them into a good position and Hill scored an unconverted try.  19-36.

Crossing again prevented Ayr from capitalising on great running, this time from replacement Blair Macpherson.  Another forward pass also scuppered the visitors' attacking aspirations before Hamilton's temper frayed and Gossman and Taylor, the two smallest players on the pitch, found themselves briefly thrown around like rag dolls.  Everyone kissed and made up after a ticking off from referee Dunx McClement.

Armstrong was on the prowl round Hamilton's scrum and managed to pinch the ball, firing it on to Macpherson.  Fergusson and Hunter continued the good work, with the latter bowling his way over for a try.  Lowe knocked over the wide conversion.  19-43.

Hamilton pressed on, but Armstrong and replacement flanker Will Bordill displayed some doughty defence and the home team knocked on.  McCallum and Fergusson again pushed play into Hamilton's half from a good Ayr scrum, but Lowe couldn't collect his own chip.

Ayr showed patience against a side that refused to tire, and eventually Armstrong spotted a gap and skipped over for a try, which Lowe converted.  19-50.

Hamilton wanted a final hurrah, with Hill and Skilling making inroads but they couldn't get anywhere.  Gossman, Hunter and Lowe also tried to have the last say for Ayr, but no further points were scored.  The visitors were glad to reach the quarter-finals of the BT Cup, whilst Hamilton returned to the clubhouse with heads held high after a determined display.

Final score: Hamilton 19 Ayr 50.

- Elena Hogarth.

View photos of the match by Nick Schaschke here.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Hamilton v Ayr preview

Ayr head to Laigh Bent tomorrow to start their BT Cup campaign against BT National League Division 2 side Hamilton Bulls and will be hoping to blow away the cobwebs after the Christmas holidays.

The Bulls are currently second in their league and will be eager to give their BT Premiership visitors the run around in this third round tie.

"We expect a physical encounter at Laigh Bent this weekend," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester.  "It is important that we start the new year strongly, with a good performance on Saturday, to kick start the second half of the season."

There are several changes to the squad from the last match in mid-December, with various players unavailable.  Gavin Lowe makes his first appearance in a pink and black shirt after his stint with the Scotland Sevens squad.  Cammy Taylor and Richard Dalgleish take the wing berths and Robbie Fergusson moves to outside centre.

In the forwards, Stuart Fenwick, James Malcolm and Fraser Watt make up a new-look front row and number eight Peter McCallum makes a welcome return from injury.

15. Craig Gossman; 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick (capt), 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. Gavin Lowe, 9. David Armstrong; 1. Stuart Fenwick, 2. James Malcolm, 3. Fraser Watt; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Graham Fisken, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Peter McCallum.

16. Fergus Scott, 17. George Hunter, 18. Blair Macpherson, 19. Will Bordill, 20. Murray Beckwith.

Kick-off 1.30pm!

For those travelling to Laigh Bent, Hamilton Central train station is within walking distance, and for drivers, the postcode of ML3 6PY is preferable for sat-nav.  For those who can't make it, follow the scores live on Twitter.