Sunday, 6 March 2016
Ayr 60 GHK 0
Ayr ran in ten tries at a sunny Millbrae on Saturday afternoon to beat GHK and progress to the BT Cup semi-finals for the first time in three years.
The home team were certainly up for the challenge of the visitors from three leagues below, and were clearly glad to be playing at home after almost two months away.
GHK had the first scrum and, unfortunately for them, got a taste of what was in store as Ayr overpowered them and claimed a penalty. From the line-out, number eight Blair Macpherson, stand-off Frazier Climo and winger Craig Gossman made ground but the latter ended up in touch.
Some fancy handling from lock Rob McAlpine and scrum-half David Armstrong got Ayr back near the try-line. Macpherson took the ball on and had clearly had his porridge that morning as he bashed defenders out of the way left, right and centre.
It was prop and man of the match Steven Longwell who propelled himself over for the opening try. Climo converted. 7-0.
He nearly got a second moments later but GHK held him up. Macpherson, too, almost scored from the back of a scrum but a fumble denied him.
GHK showed excellent fitness throughout the game and they were wily at times, stealing Ayr's line-out on more than one occasion. But it was the power and strength of the Millbrae men that they couldn't cope with. No sooner were they away with the ball than McAlpine, hooker David Young and flanker Andrew Dunlop flattened them.
The second try came from Gossman after great support play by Armstrong and flanker Will Bordill. It was converted by Climo. 14-0.
GHK launched a few promising attacks through flanker Robin Coates, full-back Tony Herron and speedy scrum-half Mike Aird, and Ayr helped them by straying off-side. The home side turned them over after the line-out though.
Climo added to his points haul for the day with a try that was almost a repeat of his efforts against Stirling County the previous week, racing away unopposed up the wing. His conversion attempt, alas, went awry. 19-0.
Haddon McPherson was making his first appearance for Ayr in several months after injury and the winger looked back to his old self, slinking his way through GHK's defenders. But all the Old Anniesland team tracked him down before he could reach the try-line.
There was no stopping the other Macpherson though, as the number eight powered over for a try. Climo missed the conversion. 24-0.
GHK's winger Marc Taylor impressed with his own jinking running to get into Ayr's half but couldn't get any closer than the five-metre line.
There was some messing about until Archie Russell, on for an injured Danny McCluskey, tidied up with a good clearance kick. Ayr then stole GHK's line-out and Gossman was away for his second try, converted by Climo. 31-0.
Russell looked to be in for a score of his own after some devastating running by Ayr full-back Grant Anderson, but he just couldn't take the pass.
It got a little ragged but there were some entertaining moments thanks to prop Javan Sebastian, who not only turned over but put in a neat little chip for his backs to chase. He then lobbed the ball at Gossman who touched down for what would have been his hat-trick but the pass was deemed forward.
GHK got into attacking mode again, led by centre Cammy Brown, but they were stuck in their own half as the opening forty minutes drew to a close.
Ayr centre Richard Dalgleish got the second half going with a try whilst a large part of the crowd was still in the queue for tea. Climo couldn't add the extras. 36-0.
People were just taking their seats in the stand when Dalgleish motored over for another score, Climo again missing the conversion. 41-0.
Lock Craig Stevenson, Russell and Climo combined to send Macpherson over for his second try and Ayr's eighth. Climo got his conversion before heading to the subs' bench for a well-earned rest. 48-0.
Anderson made his way through the GHK defenders like a run-away combine harvester and a score looked imminent, but there was a knock-on.
GHK were determined to get a score, stand-off Danny Campbell beautifully breaking from midfield, but it eluded them.
Ayr's replacements made in-roads, youngsters Jack Preston and Lee Scott demonstrating power and pace, whilst prop George Hunter and evergreen hooker Stuart Fenwick showed some gas too.
McPherson raced away after an Ayr line-out and Macpherson got his hat-trick. Ross Curle was took over kicking duties but his conversion drifted wide. 53-0.
There was a gargantuan effort by GHK in the dying minutes as they camped out on Ayr's line and gave everything to get over it. Fenwick found himself in the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on, and GHK tried again.
They poached Ayr's line-out ball but sadly knocked on, and it was Gossman who had the last laugh, rocketing away for his hat-trick of tries. Curle's conversion was successful. 60-0.
The BT Cup semi-finals will take place on Saturday 26th March, when Ayr take on Melrose at Millbrae.
All credit must go to GHK in what is a long season for them, winning fifteen games from fifteen in BT National 3, and with seven still to go. They showed great tenacity and endurance and prove what quality there is throughout the leagues in Scotland.
Final score: Ayr 60 GHK 0.
- Elena Hogarth.
Photos by Amy McGillivray.