Sunday, 29 November 2015

November POTM open!

The November player of the month poll is now open.

After Pete McCallum's landslide victory last month, who will claim the Slaters Menswear £50 voucher this time round?

Vote here.

The poll closes on Friday at midday, with the winner announced shortly after.

Coach Calum in the Sunday Times

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester talks to Mark Palmer in the Scottish edition of the Sunday Times.

The 29-year-old, the youngest head coach in the BT Premiership, discusses all things Ayr RFC and muses on the end of his own promising playing career, the transition from 'one of the boys' to the man in charge and dealing with some of the 'cheeky' players who pull on the pink and black shirt.

Ayr 20 Gala 13

Ayr maintained their position at the top of the BT Premiership after grinding out a mud-splattered win against Gala at Millbrae.

Anyone who had seen the forecast for heavy rain and high winds knew this encounter was not going to be pretty, but there was a good number of pink and black and maroon devotees in the crowd, despite the awful conditions.

There was lively play from Ayr props George Hunter and Javan Sebastian, flanker Will Bordill and scrum-half David Armstrong early on, but Gala were the first on the scoreboard after their stand-off David O'Hagan struck a penalty.  0-3.

As expected, there was a lot of kicking and a number of handling errors, but second rows Blair Macpherson and Andrew Dunlop blasted their way through the visiting defence and number eight Pete McCallum was almost over the line, only for the ball to be dislodged in the tackle.  Ayr had the advantage though and stand-off Frazier Climo lined up the kick.  3-3.

Climo had another shot at goal shortly after, but pushed it wide.  O'Hagan, too, had another opportunity but the wind was swirling and the ball drifted wide.

Ayr went on the attack via centres Danny McCluskey and Ross Curle and Glasgow Warriors' Junior Bulumakau, in his first outing in the pink and black shirt, but the ball went loose and some quick thinking from Curle saved the day as he chased down the hacked on ball from Gala and cleared.

Gala were hacking all over the place but their best chance was grounded by Armstrong, who had a busy afternoon, as did his counterpart in maroon, George Graham.

Armstrong led his men out of their own half with a sniping run from the back of a scrum and it was powerfully carried on by Macpherson and Sebastian, but the slippery conditions caused more knocks on.

Ayr were getting themselves into trouble at the scrum, giving away a penalty for the front row coming up and then getting marched back ten metres.  Gala took it quickly through Graham, but an enormous tackle on second row Callum Rowlandson by McCluskey shoved them back.

Ayr then strayed offside and were punished by O'Hagan's boot.  3-6.

It was the visitors' turn to have scrum trouble.  The home side proved steady at their set pieces and after a few phases, Macpherson plunged through the bodies and the mud for the try, which Climo converted just before half-time.  10-6.

Ayr's line-out continued to work well in the second half, with hooker Lewis Anderson looking assured with the throw-ins and flanker Callum Templeton deftly securing ball in the air.

Gala put the scrum under pressure though and they capitalised on Ayr's mistakes.  A line-out let replacement front row Gary Robertson burrow over for a try, converted by O'Hagan.  10-13.

The industrious Bordill had to leave the field injured and Ayr fans were getting a bit uneasy as Gala found gaps in the defence to charge into the opposition half and turned over when Ayr did have possession.  But they didn't help themselves by missing kicks for touch.

One such error allowed Armstrong to tidy up and release Climo, who ghosted through flailing maroon defenders and sped off.  Curle was in support and flew in under the posts for the try.  Man-of-the-match Climo converted.  17-13.

Climo added another three points moments later.  20-13.

The clock was ticking down (metaphorically - the wonky Millbrae timepiece cryptically displayed the word 'UP' throughout the match) and Gala can never be counted out in these situations.  They had a last-minute penalty thanks to Ayr holding on, but they knocked on.  Ayr happily scooped up the wayward ball and booted it off the park for the win.

Final score: Ayr 20 Gala 13.

- Elena Hogarth.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Aberdeenshire Quines v Ayr Ladies preview

It will be an early start for Ayr Ladies on Sunday as they travel north to take on Aberdeenshire Quines in the BT Women's National League Division 1.

There will be no complaints from the players, though, as they're champing at the bit to get back to action after three postponed matches in a row.  But they will be ready for the challenge of the Quines after some dedicated training over the past few weeks.

The squad is bolstered by the return of Emily Irving from Scotland duty in Spain, and she partners stand-off Catherine Shennan at half-back.  Laura Turner starts at prop, and there's a mixture of speed and strength on the bench.

Ayr Ladies:
15. Samantha Morrison; 14. Lauren McBride, 13. Linsey Bunten, 12. Kelsey Swift, 11. Erin McSorley; 10. Catherine Shennan, 9. Emily Irving; 1. Laura Turner, 2. Lisa Croniken, 3. Louise McLauchlan; 4. Phoebe McDowall, 5. Sarah Paterson; 6. Rachael Mulholland, 7. Lynsey Turner, 8. Lynda Morgan.

16. Lindsay Dick, 17. Michelle Nelson, 18. Nattalie Rooney, 19. Sarah P Paterson, 20. Lisa Main.

Kick-off 2pm!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Millbrae men in Warriors squad

Ayr tyros Ali Price and James Malcolm have been named on the bench for Glasgow Warriors' Guinness Pro12 clash with Treviso at Scotstoun on Friday evening.

22-year-old scrum-half Price and 21-year-old hooker Malcolm have already featured for the Warriors this season, as well as several successful outings for Ayr.

Former Millbrae men Mark Bennett, Finn Russell and Gordon Reid start for the current Pro12 champions.

Read the full story from Glasgow Warriors.

Best of luck to all!

Ayr v Gala preview

Ayr welcome Gala to Millbrae on Saturday for round thirteen of the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm, and the home team will be boosted by the presence of Glasgow Warrior Junior Bulumakau.

The Fijian-born, Scottish-raised winger was signed by the Scotstoun side from the British Army in the summer, and has previously played in the BT Premiership for Heriot's.  He'll no doubt get a warm welcome from the Millbrae faithful as he makes his Ayr debut.

The fans will be keen to see their team get back to winning ways after a frustrating afternoon at the Greenyards last weekend, where injury, illness and the might of Melrose combined to inflict upon Ayr their first defeat in eight games.

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester sees this week's match as the perfect opportunity to bounce back, but knows that although Gala are currently ninth in the table, there are never any easy games in this league.

'Gala will be coming to Millbrae full of confidence following their victory over Hawks.  Our fixture earlier in the season was a close encounter and our defence will need to improve from last week if we are to get the win.'

Partnering Bulumakau on the wing is returnee Haddon McPherson, whilst Frazier Climo has overcome an eye injury sustained during the first half last week to remain at stand-off.

Blair Macpherson and Andrew Dunlop team up in the second row, with Callum Templeton starting at blindside flanker after making a very welcome return from a long-term ankle injury as a substitute last week.

There's a very sturdy bunch of forwards on the bench, with Cameron Taylor and Archie Russell adding speed.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Haddon McPherson, 13. Ross Curle (c), 12. Danny McCluskey, 11. Junior Bulumakau; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. Javan Sebastian; 4. Blair Macpherson, 5. Andrew Dunlop; 6. Callum Templeton, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum.

16. David Young, 17. Steven Longwell, 18. D'arcy Rae, 19. Cameron Taylor, 20. Archie Russell.

15. Graham Speirs; 14. Frankie Robson, 13. Dwayne Burrows, 12. Alan Emond, 11. Keith Young; 10. David O'Hagan, 9. George Graham; 1. Luke Pettie, 2. Richie Tod, 3. Chris Keen; 4. Callum Rowlandson, 5. Chris Weir (c); 6. Rob Louw, 7. Gary Adams, 8. Euan Dods.

16. Gary Robertson, 17. Josh Irvine, 18. Craig Borthwick, 19. Ross Livingston, 20. Craig Dods.

Kick-off 3pm!

Ayr 2nd XV v Gala A kicks off at 2pm and you can follow their scores live via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Win a 2015/16 season mug!

Our new season's mugs have arrived and we're giving ten away to some lucky Tweeters who will be at Millbrae for our game against Gala on Saturday.

All you have to do is tweet a picture of yourself at Millbrae on game day to and the first ten will receive a mug.  Come up into the stand at full-time and you'll get your prize from our media co-ordinator Elena.  

Don't worry if you're not on Twitter, we're running another competition via Facebook for a £100 cash give-away on Saturday 12th December.

Get tweeting and we'll see you all on Saturday for a 3pm kick-off! #mugforamug 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Melrose 35 Ayr 24

It was a freezing cold Greenyards that welcomed Ayr on Saturday and a scorching hot Melrose that ran in four tries to beat the BT Premiership leaders.

The hosts started as they meant to go on, with full-back Fraser Thomson ripping through the Ayr defence to fly in for a try with barely a minute on the clock.  Joe Helps converted.  7-0.

A raft of last-minute injuries saw six changes to Ayr's squad, with prop George Hunter again playing in the second row.  There were welcome returns to action for winger Kerr Gossman and replacement lock Callum Templeton, who has been on the sidelines for several months with an ankle injury.

A chip and chase from centre Ross Curle and winger Cameron Taylor livened things up for the visitors, and after some hard work in the loose from number eight Pete McCallum and flanker Blair Macpherson, stand-off Frazier Climo got Ayr on the score board with a penalty.  7-3.

Climo brought them within a point moments later with another successful kick at goal.  7-6.

Melrose sent their restart straight out and then failed to bind properly at the resulting scrum on the half-way line.  This let Ayr kick for touch and make for the line.  Scrum-half David Armstrong led the way, with Climo, Macpherson, McCallum, centre Danny McCluskey, hooker Lewis Anderson and Gossman trying to reach with whitewash before Curle crashed over only to be held up.  Another penalty by Climo sailed over the crossbar shortly after.  7-9.

Melrose were on the prowl and speedy winger Sam Pecqueur was nearly over in the corner.  Helps nudged them back in front with a penalty.  10-9.

Pecqueur did get his try - the first of two - when he slipped through three tackles.  Helps' conversion was wide.  15-9.

Ayr were dealt a blow when Climo had to leave the field with an eye injury.  He was replaced by Archie Russell, with Curle moving to stand-off.

Helps' penalty was the only other score before half-time.  18-9.

Melrose put Ayr's defence under enormous pressure at the start of the second half.  Centre Andrew Nagle would have been away for a try were it not for a forward pass.

Ayr's line-out wobbled but the scrum was sturdy for the most part.  Melrose delighted their home fans with a long, slow, determined drive out of their own half that led to a penalty, but Ayr managed to turn over and clear thanks to some tough work by flanker Graham Fisken and second row Andrew Dunlop.

McCallum, Ayr's danger man in so many of the previous games, was heavily marked in the first half, but Melrose eased their grip on him after the resumption and it was his scintillating break after a perfect pass from Armstrong that got Ayr into Melrose's twenty-two.  Terrific support from Dunlop almost saw him reach the line, but it was hooker Anderson who crashed over.  Curle superbly struck the conversion from the touchline.  18-16.

But there was no respite for the visitors.  The home backs were churning up the hallowed Greenyards turf with their fast feet and Pecqueur was over again, Helps adding the extras.  25-16.

Ayr wouldn't lie down though, Macpherson claiming the restart and letting full-back Grant Anderson loose to muscle his way up the wing for the try.  Curle couldn't get the conversion.  25-21.

Silly infringements were cancelling out Ayr's good work and Helps punished them with the boot.  28-21.

Another swift break by McCallum got Ayr into the opposition half and Curle struck back with a penalty.  28-24.

It seemed like the visitors were going to stage a comeback, especially when Melrose duffed their penalty kick for the line-out and Ayr bossed the ensuing scrum.  The ball was quickly fired through the backs and into the hands of Taylor, who shot off only to be dragged into touch.

It went from bad to worse with McCallum sin-binned and Melrose flanker Grant Runciman barging over for a try.  Helps converted.  35-24.
There was still time on the clock for Ayr to search for the losing bonus point, but they couldn't get past the determined Melrose defence.

It was a disappointing afternoon for Ayr and their travelling fans, but they still lead the BT Premiership by five points, with Heriot's in second after their huge win against Selkirk, and Melrose just two points behind in third.  There's all to play for as the league moves to its conclusion and Ayr will be firmly set on returning to winning ways when they welcome Gala to Millbrae next week.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Melrose v Ayr preview

It's the second week in a row that Ayr hit the road, this time travelling to the picturesque Greenyards to face Melrose in the BT Premiership.

Last week's bonus-point win against Boroughmuir at Meggatland saw the men in pink and black stretch their lead at the top of the table to ten points, but third-placed Melrose will be looking to narrow that gap and leap-frog second-placed Heriot's.

Melrose beat Ayr 23-19 at Millbrae in September and this week's visitors are undoubtedly keen to turn the tables on what is forecast to be a very cold day in the Borders.

'Matches between Melrose and Ayr are always hotly contested,' says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester.  'We will need to continue our good form this Saturday for the full eighty minutes in order to come away with the result we desire.'

There are only two changes to the starting line-up, with Lewis Anderson coming in at hooker for the unavailable James Malcolm and inside centre Danny McCluskey moving up from the bench, with his spot there taken by Archie Russell.

Kerr Gossman joins Russell amongst the substitutes after two excellent appearances for the 2nd XV in which he scored three tries.  David Young fills the replacement hooker spot.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Haddon McPherson, 13. Ross Curle (c), 12. Danny McCluskey, 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. D'arcy Rae; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Andrew Dunlop; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum.

16. David Young, 17. Javan Sebastian, 18. Graham Fisken, 19. Kerr Gossman, 20. Archie Russell.

15. Fraser Thomson; 14. Joe Helps, 13. Nyle Godsmark, 12. Andrew Nagel, 11. Sam Pequer; 10. Tom Galbraith, 9. Bruce Colvine (c); 1. Jamie Bhatti, 2. Richard Ferguson, 3. Gary Holborn; 4. Graham Dodds, 5. Lewis Carmichael; 6. Neil Irvine Hess, 7. Grant Runciman, 8. Ally Miller.

16. Cammy Mackay, 17. Dan Elkington, 18. Ally Grieve, 19. Murdo McAndrew, 20. Richard Taylor.

Kick-off 2pm for the 1st and 2nd XVs.  Follow the 1sts' scores live on Twitter and the 2nds' game via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Ayr players in Glasgow 'A' game

Ayr's Ali Price and James Malcolm will start for Glasgow 'A' in today's game against Edinburgh 'A' at Broadwood Stadium, kicking off at 3pm.

Javan Sebastian, Will Bordill and Archie Russell have been named on the bench for the sixty-minute match.

Read the full story from Glasgow Warriors.

Monday, 16 November 2015

£100 cash give-aways at Millbrae!

Fancy winning £100 in cash?  All you have to do is go to a rugby match!

We're giving away the prize to one lucky spectator at Ayr's BT Premiership match with Heriot's on Saturday 12th December.  Confirm your attendance via the Facebook event, go to the match and listen for your name over the tannoy at half-time.  You'll receive your prize on presentation of ID.

You'll have three more chances to win throughout the season:

Saturday 9th January - Ayr v Selkirk - BT Premiership
Saturday 6th February - Ayr v Selkirk - development game
Saturday 12th March - Ayr v Currie - development game

See you at Millbrae!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Boroughmuir 10 Ayr 32

Ayr got another bonus-point win on Saturday after they ran in four tries to beat Boroughmuir 32-10 at Meggatland in the BT Premiership.

Ayr set out their stall early, muscling their way into Boroughmuir's half, full-back Grant Anderson, prop D'arcy Rae, number eight Pete McCallum and flanker Will Bordill bashing through the defence.

It looked like winger Cameron Taylor would get the first score after he collected a deft chip from stand-off Frazier Climo, but he was in touch as he scampered to the try-line.

There were struggles at the line-out for the visitors, but their scrum held firm and the hosts couldn't cope, their front row popping up on more than one occasion.  McCallum and second row Robert McAlpine pressed for the line, but it was prop George Hunter who rumbled over for the try.  Climo converted.  0-7.

Former Ayr player Dougie Steele led the attack for Muir from stand-off, with prop Karl Fuey in support.  They got to Ayr's five-metre line but Anderson and scrum-half David Armstrong put in some hefty tackles.

Bordill getting sent to the sin bin helped Muir at the scrum, and there was no-one home for Ayr as winger Jordan Edmunds scurried away under the posts.  Steele converted.  7-7.

Muir flanker Craig Keddie slipped through a gap to get his men back into Ayr's half but a later line-out was stolen by the visitors.  McCallum charged off, with Anderson, centre Archie Russell and winger Haddon McPherson in support, but the home defence closed them down.

Another line-out for Muir went awry as hands numbed in the increasing cold and Ayr then camped out in Muir's half until the interval.  Four scrums in a row for Ayr let Bordill, then McCallum, go for the line before Armstrong and Climo combined to send centre Ross Curle over.  The conversion from Climo came just before the players trotted back to the changing rooms.  7-14.

Curle almost scored again at the resumption, but McCallum's pass, after another storming run, was deemed forward.

Boroughmuir's forwards were on lively form too, hooker Cal Davies stampeding away before Armstrong tracked him down.  But the hosts couldn't cope with Ayr's pack and they were flattened in the scrum.  In the loose, flanker Blair Macpherson and second row Andrew Dunlop used all their strength to barge through defenders.

Penalties were traded, with Climo and Steele both successful.  10-17.

Another try was on the cards as Ayr's forwards broke through the defence, but a wayward pass couldn't be retrieved by Curle.

Quick and dexterous handling by McAlpine and Armstrong confused Muir before Climo lined up another penalty.  10-20.

Muir centre David Reekie made a foray into Ayr's half but Taylor and replacement centre Danny McCluskey wrapped up the attackers before another huge shove demolished the home scrum.

A fumble from Boroughmuir gave Ayr a scrum in their own half and McCallum made his now trademark break from the back to get right into the hosts' twenty-two.  Some juggling from Armstrong kept the move going and terrific support play by replacement back row Graham Fisken saw the latter go over in the corner.  The conversion was from too wide an angle for Climo.  10-25.

The bonus point came when McCluskey flew on to a Boroughmuir pass and sprinted away from his own half for the try in the blink of an eye.  Climo booted over the conversion.  10-32.

The home team tried to get another score before the final whistle but Ayr held firm.  The win now sees the men in pink and black ten points clear at the top of the BT Premiership.  Another challenging away fixture beckons next week as they go to the Greenyards to face Melrose.

Final score: Boroughmuir 10 Ayr 32.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Emily at Scotland camp in Spain

Ayr Ladies' Emily Irving has been named in Scotland Women's ten-day training camp, which begins in Valladolid in Spain this weekend.

Irving, who has one senior cap, joins thirty-six other players in being put through their paces by head coach Shade Munro, his assistants Peter Jericevich (a former Ayr scrum-half) and Graeme Young, and Spanish Rugby Union coaches.

Read the full story from the SRU.

Boroughmuir v Ayr preview

Ayr visit Meggatland this Saturday to take on Boroughmuir in the BT Premiership and will be aiming for a win to make up for letting a lead slip against the Edinburgh side at the start of the season.

The tables have turned since that game at Millbrae in September, with Ayr now topping the league and Boroughmuir currently eighth.  But the home team will be desperate to get a victory in front of the Meggatland crowd, so there is no room for complacency.

'Boroughmuir have won the last couple of encounters between these two sides and we are fully aware of the task ahead,' says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester.  'We have started slowly the last couple of matches, so we'll be looking to put in a full eighty-minute performance this weekend.'

In the squad, hooker James Malcolm returns to the starting line-up after his debut from the bench for Glasgow Warriors last weekend.  Scott Sutherland is injured, so Andrew Dunlop moves into the second row, with Blair Macpherson taking his place at blindside flanker.

Archie Russell earns a start at outside centre after some impressive performances as a replacement.

The 2nd XV play their Boroughmuir counterparts at 2pm.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Haddon McPherson, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Ross Curle (c), 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. James Malcolm, 3. D'arcy Rae; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Andrew Dunlop; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum.

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. Javan Sebastian, 18. Graham Fisken, 19. Jack Preston, 20. Danny McCluskey.

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

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Robbie off on loan and into action

Robbie Fergusson has travelled south to Richmond in Surrey to begin his loan period with London Scottish.

He joins three other young Scots, George Horne, Andrew Davidson and Jack Cosgrove, in gaining some invaluable experience with the English Championship side.

He has been named to start at outside centre for Scottish's British and Irish Cup game against Munster A on Friday night.

Robbie follows in the footsteps of his Ayr team-mates D'arcy Rae and George Hunter who have spent spells at the Athletic Ground to develop their games.

He'll certainly be missed at Millbrae, where he's been a development officer and coach with Ayr Ladies, but we're looking forward to watching him progress and wish him all the best for the next few months.

Read the full story from London Scottish.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Girls' rugby taster at Millbrae

Ayr RFC under-18 girls are hosting an open taster session for girls interested in trying rugby.

It doesn't matter if you've played before or not; everyone is welcome!  Even if you just want to find out a bit more about the sport, gather together your friends and come along to Ayr RFC.

It will be held at Millbrae on Monday 16th November, 6pm-7pm.  Sign up on Facebook.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Ayr Ladies v Kirkcaldy preview

Ayr Ladies take on Kirkcaldy for the second time this season and will be looking to right some wrongs after a 5-12 away loss in September.

Since then, the ladies in pink and black have climbed to the top of the BT Women's National League Division 1 after some excellent performances and they will hope to continue the good form in front of their home fans.

Ayr Ladies now have a larger senior squad with a heartening mix of youth and experience.  Due to the increased numbers, there are a few changes in the match day squad for Sunday's game.

Michelle Nelson starts at loosehead prop.  In the backs, Kelsey Swift partners Daryl Paterson in the centre and Sarah Paterson is named at full-back.

There is a strong group of substitutes with Lindsay Dick, Phoebe McDowall and Laura Turner poised to make an impact from the bench alongside newcomers Linsey Bunten and Lynsey Turner.

Ayr Ladies:
15. Sarah Paterson; 14. Nattalie Rooney, 13. Daryl Paterson, 12. Kelsey Swift, 11. Erin McSorley; 10. Catherine Shennan, 9. Emily Irving; 1. Michelle Nelson, 2. Lisa Croniken, 3. Louise McLauchlan; 4. Zoe Montgomerie, 5. Ashleigh Nelson; 6. Rachael Mulholland, 7. Jackie O'Neil, 8. Lynda Morgan.

16. Lindsay Dick, 17. Phoebe McDowall, 18. Laura Turner, 19. Linsey Bunten, 20. Lynsey Turner.

Kick-off 2pm!

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.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Ayr v Glasgow Hawks preview

West coast rivals Ayr and Glasgow Hawks play each other for the second time this season and the visitors to Millbrae will be eager to mete out some revenge after the hosts ran away with their first encounter back in August.

Hawks have put together some consistent performances to get to fourth in the BT Premiership and with Heriot's just above them in third place, they will be focussed on gaining as many points as possible on Saturday afternoon, while Ayr will be looking to stretch their lead at the top of the table.

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester is all too aware of the threat the Old Anniesland side poses.

'Hawks will come to Millbrae with a point to prove.  They have been playing some good attacking rugby, but our defence has been strong in recent weeks and will need to be so again.'

The squad isn't much changed from the previous week, with exception of Blair Macpherson taking his place on the bench after scoring four tries for the 2nd XV last Saturday.

David Armstrong starts at scrum-half with Jack Preston taking his place amongst the substitutes alongside Javan Sebastian, whose tighthead starting berth is filled by D'arcy Rae.

Hawks are led from the centre by Brendan McGroarty, with Glasgow Warriors James Eddie and Jerry Yanyanutawa - who have both pulled on the pink and black shirt in past seasons - in the squad.  Former Ayr head coach Peter Laverie is jointly in charge with Gary Mercer, so there will be no secrets between the teams.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Haddon McPherson, 13. Ross Curle (c), 12. Danny McCluskey, 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. D'arcy Rae; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Andrew Dunlop, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum.

16. David Young, 17. Javan Sebastian, 18. Blair Macpherson, 19. Jack Preston, 20. Archie Russell.

Glasgow Hawks:
15. Robbie Houliston; 14. Robert Beattie, 13. Brendan McGroarty (c), 12. Jack Steele, 11. Paul Ramsay; 10. Gregor Hunter, 9. Paddy Boyer; 1. Gary Strain, 2. Jack Macfarlane, 3. Brendan Cullinane; 4. Andrew Linton, 5. Andrew Redmayne; 6. James Eddie, 7. Fin Gillies, 8. Andrew Hill.

16. Grant Stewart, 17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18. Matt Smith, 19. Sean Yacoubian, 20. Erlend Oag.

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

Ayr 2nd XV v Glasgow Hawks 2nd XV kicks off at 2pm at Rozelle.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Oct 2015 POTM now open!

The October player of the month poll is now open.

You have until Friday at midday to vote for your favourite player of the past month.  Last month's poll was topped by Cameron Taylor, who received a voucher from Slaters Menswear.  With thanks to the Ayrshire Post for the photo.

Vote here.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Ayr 32 Hawick 20

Ayr overcame a tricky first half to their BT Premiership clash with Hawick to score five tries and lead the table by seven points as the league competition reaches the half-way mark.

There was certainly a lively start from young Ayr hooker Lewis Anderson, who went on a thirty-metre charge into Hawick's half.  His energy was matched by his fellow front rowers George Hunter and Javan Sebastian and flanker Andrew Dunlop.

However, the home side gave away penalties and found themselves stuck in their own half.  Hawick worked hard, as expected from one of the toughest teams in the league, and their flanker Rory Scott, scrum-half Sean Goodfellow and winger John Coutts were on determined form.

There were some particularly crunching tackles from Hawick, with Ayr winger Haddon McPherson momentarily crumpled on the soggy Millbrae turf, but centre Danny McCluskey, young scrum-half Jack Preston and number eight Pete McCallum showed that Ayrshire men are just as physical as the Borderers.

The first chance for points came Ayr's way when Hawick's experienced captain Bruce McNeil put in a high tackle on McPherson, but stand-off Frazier Climo's long-range penalty attempt drifted to the side.

A try followed very quickly when McCallum burst through the defence to race over the line in the corner.  Climo was kicking into the sun and couldn't make the conversion.  5-0.

Ayr looked to be getting into their groove with a very exciting phase of play that started with a line-out steal.  Captain Ross Curle did his usual dancing through the defence, with McPherson, winger Cameron Taylor, Hunter, rangy lock Robert McAlpine, Sebastian and Anderson all in on the action.  Had the pitch not been so slippery, they may have got to the try-line.

Two penalty kicks for Climo followed.  The first missed, but Hawick grabbed the ball and were then penalised for holding on, leading to the second, which was successful.  8-0.

Hawick replied moments later when Ayr were offside, stand-off Lee Armstrong on kicking duty.  8-3.

Shoving and shirt-pulling broke out and Ayr second row Scott Sutherland found himself in the sin bin.

Fourteen-man Ayr did well to contain Hawick and there were great tackles by McPherson and flanker Will Bordill, as well as some expert poaching by McCallum.

It got messy as the half came to a close.  Both teams had clearance kicks out on the full and possession changed hands regularly, with each side darting about all over the place without actually getting anywhere.

Another long penalty attempt by Climo, this time in his own half, went wide but McPherson tried to pounce for the try.  He didn't get it, and lay hurt in the dead ball area when everyone had trotted off to the clubhouse for the break.  Thankfully, he soon got up and followed.

Things were frantic at the resumption, but McAlpine and McCallum showed great strength and speed to get Ayr into Hawick's twenty-two.  Preston was off from a free kick only to be illegally impeded by Hawick prop Shawn Muir as he headed for the try-line.  Muir was yellow carded and Ayr took the scrum.

Full-back Grant Anderson, not to be outdone by his young bearded namesake Lewis, shot off and, as is his wont, muscled his way over for the try.  The referee checked with his assistants that it was good and awarded the score, which Climo converted.  15-3.

Preston took his leave after a commendable first start at scrum-half to be replaced by David Armstrong on his comeback from injury just as Hawick's Armstrong lined up a penalty, which was unsuccessful.

Ayr's Armstrong was straight into the thick of things, taking a high ball and releasing his backs.  Curle, like a bat out of hell on Hallowe'en, flew up the wing and perfectly passed to McCallum for the number eight's second try of the game and eighth in nine matches.  Climo converted.  22-3.

Hawick can never be counted out.  It was almost a blink-and-you-missed-it try from replacement prop Terry Skeet, as he burrowed his way over under the posts.  Armstrong converted.  22-10.

Man of the match McCallum somehow ploughed his way through the defence with three men in green clinging to him and there was great support from replacements D'arcy Rae and Graham Fisken, who later combined to put in a few hefty double tackles.

Thrills and spills followed, with both teams unable to control the ball at times.  It looked like Anderson the younger was headed for a try to cap a memorable performance only to be called back as the line-out was deemed not straight.

Hawick were creeping back with another penalty by Armstrong.  22-13.

Ayr's Armstrong fired the ball from a line-out and his forwards then moved it swiftly to full-back Anderson who went over for his second try.  Curle stepped up to the tee in the absence of Climo, but the conversion hit the post.  27-13.

The visitors wouldn't be subdued though.  Centre Wiaan Griebenhow made a beautiful break up the middle of the park, shrugging off tackles and offloaded perfectly to flanker Nick McTaggart who almost slid head-first into the post on his way to getting the try.  Armstrong converted.  27-20.

The clock was ticking down and with just a converted try away from a draw, Hawick were pressing on.  But Ayr got a turnover and replacement back Archie Russell spotted a gap and scurried through, bashing a defender out of the way in the process.  Curle then blasted his way over for a final try.  He couldn't convert his own score though.  32-20.

It's another home game for Ayr next week, as they welcome west coast rivals Glasgow Hawks to Millbrae.  With the Old Anniesland side now in fourth place in the table, and no doubt looking to even things up after a comprehensive defeat at the start of the season, it will be another difficult game for Ayr.

Final score: Ayr 32 Hawick 20.

- Elena Hogarth.

Photos by George McMillan.

Ayr Ladies v Broughton preview

Ayr Ladies welcome Broughton to Millbrae today for their sixth match of the BT Women's National League Division 1.

After last week's table-topping win against old foes Stewartry Sirens, the ladies in pink and black will be looking to repeat their confident and assured play against the second-placed visitors from Edinburgh, who come into this match on the back of a narrow home defeat to Watsonians last weekend.

Ayr lead the league by three points, but crucially Broughton have a game in hand, so this is a vital clash.

The squad has a familiar look, with young talent again rubbing shoulders with now seasoned campaigners.  The lively centres of Daryl Paterson and Laura Turner are sure to turn on the pace, whilst second rows Ashleigh Nelson and Phoebe McDowall will be key at the set pieces.  And yes, there are two players called Sarah Paterson on the bench.

Ayr Ladies:
15. Sammie Morrison; 14. Lauren McBride, 13. Daryl Paterson, 12. Laura Turner, 11. Erin McSorley; 10. Catherine Shennan, 9. Emily Irving; 1. Lindsay Dick, 2. Lisa Croniken, 3. Louise McLauchlan; 4. Ashleigh Nelson, 5. Phoebe McDowall; 6. Rachael Mulholland, 7. Jackie O'Neil, 8. Lynda Morgan.

16. Michelle Nelson, 17. Zoe Montgomerie, 18. Sarah Paterson, 19. Sarah P Paterson, 20. Lisa Main.

Kick-off 2pm!