Sunday, 30 October 2016

Currie 32 Ayr 41

After last week's defeat to Watsonians, Ayr head coach Calum Forrester said his players would pick themselves up for a tricky encounter with Currie, and that is exactly what they did, running in five tries in a solid, confident performance in the BT Premiership.

Currie at Malley Park has been Ayr's banana skin fixture for the past few years, the hosts seemingly always able to unsettle the visitors and sneak a win. But not on Saturday.

Ayr got off to a flying start, flanker Will Bordill crashing over for a try from a line-out, and stand-off Frazier Climo, who didn't miss a kick all afternoon, converting. 0-7.

But danger lay ahead, with Currie's marauding backs putting the Ayr defence under pressure. Second rows Scott Sutherland and Robert McAlpine were busy all afternoon, putting in the hits.

Currie centre Robbie Nelson made a brilliant break, but the home team's chip ricocheted off an Ayr player and was gathered and cleared.

There was a substitution for Ayr, with hooker David Young going off and Lewis Anderson taking his place.

Currie put their foot on the gas, racing up the wing, with captain and number eight Ross Weston scoring. Stand-off James Bywater missed the conversion. 5-7.

Ayr got themselves back into Currie's twenty-two, captain Pete McCallum breaking from the back of the scrum, with scrum-half David Armstrong whipping the ball to Climo who sent a long, curving pass to full-back Grant Anderson. He found Craig Gossman on the wing, who had to step back in to avoid being shoved into touch.

They didn't reach the try-line, but Climo lined up a penalty and got it. 5-10.

Bywater replied moments later when Ayr were pinged for holding on. 8-10.

Currie had three line-outs in a row, but a knock-on gave Ayr a scrum. Gossman slipped the tackles, flipping the ball to Armstrong who juggled it before passing to Climo. A delayed pass just before the five-metre line ended up in Currie hands.

They didn't have long to wait for another score though, as Bordill repeated his earlier feat of launching himself over the whitewash after a line-out. Climo converted. 8-17.

Currie kept in touch with another penalty by Bywater. 11-17.

Grant Anderson made another break before Ayr got a penalty and took the line-out. Sutherland got his hands on the ball, pirouetted through a gaping hole in the Currie defence and went over for the try. Climo added the extras. 11-24.

The set pieces were working well for Ayr, and Lewis Anderson bashed through the tackles after a line-out, with Bordill, Climo, centre Ross Curle and Climo appearing again in support before Grant Anderson cruised over for the try. Climo converted just before half-time. 11-31.

Climo opened the second half with a penalty. 11-34.

Currie were coming back into the game though, Lewis Anderson and centre Archie Russell having their hands full trying to stop former Ayr player Fergus Scott.

Ayr made a substitution, with Blair Macpherson replacing flanker Ruaridh Mackenzie.

The hosts had a good amount of possession but they were labouring to the line and Ayr managed to repel their attack, securing a penalty. Unfortunately, Currie flanker Thomas Gordon intercepted after the line-out and Weston rumbled away with the ball.

A penalty for Currie gave them a line-out and after some patient play, Nelson got over for the try, with Bywater converting. 18-34.

There was a nail-biting period for Ayr fans as Russell landed himself in the sin bin, and Currie winger Cameron Gray flew over in the corner for a try. It was a wide conversion but Bywater nailed it. 25-34.

Currie had a spring in their step, and roared on by the home crowd, they looked like they were about to score another, only to be called back for a forward pass.

They came back again, relentlessly pushing for the try-line until Ayr prop Steven Longwell put in a tremendous tackle to cause a knock-on.

Ayr got a penalty from the scrum, and a good line-out allowed Armstrong, Curle and winger Richard Dalgleish to press on into Currie's half before Lewis Anderson burst through the defence at a gallop.

Another penalty line-out didn't go so well, as the throw-in was deemed not straight, and it happened again after Currie cleared. It didn't hinder Ayr too much, as Armstrong and Climo had any attackers well wrapped up.

Grant Anderson was under a Currie kick and flew off with McCallum, Climo, Macpherson, Bordill, Gossman, prop George Hunter and Curle in support. The thud from the tackles put in by Currie could be heard in the stand, and Armstrong chipped over the defence for Gossman to chase.

The winger couldn't take it, but another powerful scrum by Ayr got everyone in on the act, the entire team making for the line at one point or another. Climo put in a cross-field kick for Dalgleish but it was unsuccessful.

Ayr had the advantage though and took another scrum, and just as they were headed for the line, Currie scrum-half Richard Sneddon stuck out a paw and was dismissed for ten minutes for a deliberate knock-on.

From the scrum, McCallum broke away and popped the pass to Climo, who muscled his way over for the try, which he easily converted. 25-41.

Currie had the final say, winger Ben Robbins scoring and full-back Harvey Elms converting. 32-41.

The win means Ayr are still in second place on level points with leaders Melrose in the BT Premiership table, and they will look to back up the victory against Heriot's at home next week.

Final score: Currie 32 Ayr 41.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Currie v Ayr preview

Ayr have their second away game in a row on Saturday as they head back east to Edinburgh to play Currie in the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm.

The competition is now in its second half, and with Ayr on equal points with league leaders Melrose, they will be focused on some strong showings in the run-up to Christmas.

Ayr beat Currie's young guns 53-10 in the first game of the season at Millbrae in August, but the Balerno-based side has matured over the weeks and the players always lift themselves for home fixtures at the picturesque Malleny Park.

The Ayr coaching team of Calum Forrester, Glen Tippett and Scott Forrest have had a good week of training with their charges.

"Our players can't wait to get back on the pitch following last week's disappointment, so it's set to be a cracker on Saturday," says Forrester.

The Ayr squad is boosted by the return from injury of the influential Ross Curle, Frazier Climo and Will Bordill, with George Hunter moving back to his usual spot in the front row.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Ross Curle, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. David Young, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Ruaridh Mackenzie, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. Robbie Smith, 18. Blair Macpherson, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Stafford McDowall.

Kick-off 3pm for both 1st and 2nd XVs. Follow the scores live on Twitter (1st XV) and the Ulitmate Rugby app (2nd XV).

Monday, 24 October 2016

Ayr Ladies 5 Murrayfield Wanderers 77

Ayr Ladies were run ragged by BT Premier League leaders Murrayfield Wanderers at Millbrae on Sunday, but once again the women in pink and black didn't lack team spirit.

It was a cold day in Alloway despite the sunshine, and hands quickly began to numb for both sets of players, knocks-on featuring from the off.

The visitors held on to the ball long enough to head for the line, but Ayr organised the defence well and pushed them back. There was then a pause as an injured Wanderer was helped from the field.

It didn't affect them, as they again made for the whitewash and, despite the attentions of winger Erin McSorley and full-back Claire Law, got an unconverted try. 0-5.

Ayr held firm at the scrum and harried Wanderers but as soon as they got out of their own half, the Edinburgh side turned over and were away. Ayr had some turnovers of their own, with centre Julie David linking well with McSorley, but a pass was deemed forward.

The home back row of Kelsey Swift, Rachel Morrison and Rachael Mulholland was putting in textbook crunching tackles, but Wanderers eased to four tries in quick succession. 0-31.
Another converted score followed. 0-38.

Swift continued to put in a tremendous defensive display that belied her size, with captain Laura Turner and prop Louise McLauchlan closing down the visitors too. 

When Ayr did get their hands on the ball, Morrison, centre Catriona Cowan, McSorley, Swift, replacement Lynda Morgan, scrum-half Emily Irving and Mulholland whipped it from one side of the pitch to the other. 

Wanderers leaked a penalty and Law was off, her fast feet and low body position helping her to elude the tackles, but she was bundled into touch before she could reach the line.

Ayr gave away a penalty themselves and an unconverted try followed for the visitors. 0-43.

The home team had another crack at the line, Turner hitting the ball at pace but also hitting a Murrayfield wall of defenders.

They didn't stop though, Morrison slicing through the red and white shirts and chipping over the top for David to chase. Possession changed hands as both teams looked to run everything, but those handling errors scuppered any free-flowing play.

It was the experienced Wanderers who coped better with the mistakes, and they scored just before half-time. 0-48.
Ayr started the second half with another sturdy scrum, but Wanderers were dominating the breakdown and soon turned over to race away for a converted try. 0-55.

It was going to be a very long final forty minutes if Ayr became downcast, but they didn't. Swift led the way, ripping the ball from an unsuspecting Wanderer and charging off.

The visitors turned over, but Ayr managed to force them into touch before launching another attack from their steady set piece, Irving, stand-off Catherine Shennan and winger Kirsty Wilson moving play dangerously close to the Wanderers' line.

They couldn't get through the defence, though, and before they knew it, Wanderers were away for a converted try. 0-62.

A couple of knocks-on by the visitors gave Ayr a good platform to go for the line again, Shennan, Cowan, Swift, Morrison and Wilson combining to send over Turner, but she was held up.

The captain tried again with Swift and Mulholland in support, but the Wanderers wave swept them right back to half-way and they were turned over and off went Wanderers for two more unconverted tries. 0-72.

Ayr were determined to get some points. Replacement prop Lauren Gunn bashed her way through the opposition with Cowan and hooker Ann Cooper in support. It took a few phases and a penalty, but Morrison and Cowan combined to send David over in the corner. The conversion angle was too wide for Shennan. 5-72.

Murrayfield Wanderers had the final say, good work by Wilson and Cowan undone by yet another turnover, and the table toppers got their last unconverted try. 5-77.
- Elena Hogarth.

Photos courtesy of George McMillan.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Watsonians 29 Ayr 27

It was a good day to be a Watsonians fan but a bad day for the pink and black travelling support as they watched Ayr squander an eight-point lead and be beaten at the death in the BT Premiership.

It wasn't a promising start for the visitors at Myreside, as Watsonians showed their ambition and determination from the get-go, full-back Max McFarland flying over only for the try to be disallowed thanks to a forward pass.

Scrums were exchanged with both sides holding their own. But Watsonians had the majority of the possession and did more with it. Any scrap that came their way was utilised to their advantage. An Ayr chip was swallowed up and fed on to their first try-scorer, centre DJ Innes. Stand-off Andrew Chalmers missed the conversion. 5-0.

Ayr lock Robert McAlpine steadied the ship at the line-out, scrum-half David Armstrong firing the ball on to McAlpine's second row partner Scott Sutherland who popped up in mid-field before flanker Ruaridh Mackenzie - making his first start for Ayr - spotted a gap and chipped on.

It came to nothing and before long, the home team had a line-out and flanker Angus Duckett almost strolled over in the corner. There was no conversion again. 10-0.

Watsonians were pushing Ayr to the limit with their attacking play and there was some fast thinking and even faster tackles from stand-off Danny McCluskey, centre Stafford McDowall and tireless prop Steven Longwell to contain the threat.

More points came Watsonians' way thanks to a Chalmers penalty. 13-0.

Ayr gathered themselves together, secured a turnover and winger Craig Gossman appeared with ball in hand, almost jogging along the touchline, before centre Archie Russell hit a good line to break through the defence and winger Richard Dalgleish rushed over for the try. Full-back Grant Anderson was on kicking duty but the angle was too wide for him. 13-5.

It was possibly Anderson's bleeding forehead that distracted him as he tried to convert and he temporarily left the field to be attended to, with Jamie Bova coming on.

There were some unfortunate occurrences for both teams, with Ayr crossing as they headed for the line and Watsonians' resulting kick for the corner going completely wonky. Armstrong was under the ball and he launched McCluskey into attack, with hooker Robbie Smith and Sutherland in support, but they were hustled into touch.

Chalmers stretched his team's lead with another penalty. 16-5.

McCluskey took his leave briefly with Paddy Dewhirst deputising and looking at home, his terrific jinking run to the line allowing number eight Blair Macpherson to cross for Ayr's second and his eighth of the season. Anderson converted. 16-12.

McCluskey returned to the field after half-time but his permanent departure was only a few minutes away. Some sniping work by Armstrong and a half-break by Russell meant things were looking up for Ayr, but the sight of McCluskey leaving the field on a stretcher due to a lower leg injury was a definite downer for the men in pink and black.

Dewhirst was back on and got stuck into some thumping runs with Russell and McDowall. Ayr drove for the line and prop Djustice Sears-Duru, Glasgow's Canadian international, burrowed over for the score, with the conversion by Anderson. 16-19.

Chalmers then evened things up with a penalty. 19-19.

Watsonians went down to fourteen men when winger Keith Young was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.

There was a reshuffle as club captain Pete McCallum made his comeback from injury, with Macpherson moving from eight to blindside flanker, George Hunter moving from there to his usual position of prop and Sears-Duru moving off the field.

Watsonians launched another spirited attack but dropped the ball; Armstrong was on it in a flash, McCallum backing him up and Dalgleish then charging, chipping, collecting and scoring in style. Anderson missed the conversion. 19-24.

Gossman looked like he was about to do the same, but his chip came off a Watsonians boot and bobbled off the pitch. The ensuing line-out allowed Ayr's backs to run, McDowall and Anderson pinning their ears back, but they were pinged for obstruction.

There was a slightly frantic period as Watsonians looked like they didn't know what to do with the ball and ended up knocking on. McCallum broke from the back of the scrum and passed to Armstrong, who made a scurrying break. They lost possession but soon regained it, McCallum thumping his way up the pitch until Anderson got another three points from a penalty. 19-27.

Chalmers quickly replied. 22-27.

The home crowd could sense something and cheered on their team but their good attack came undone when a stray foot nudged the ball into touch.

Possession changed hands a few times as the metaphorical clock ticked down, but Watsonians kept a hold of the ball and despite the attentions of Russell, replacement hooker David Young, McDowall and Sears-Duru (back on for Longwell), they moved it brilliantly from their own half and patiently waited until Young crossed in the corner. With the scores level, it was up to replacement Ali Harris to nail the touchline conversion, which he did, to the rapturous applause of the home fans. 29-27.

It was the final play of the game, the referee's whistle inaudible over the celebrations.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Watsonians v Ayr preview

Ayr have their first of two back-to-back away games on Saturday as they travel to Edinburgh to play Watsonians at Myreside in the BT Premiership.

The men in pink and black climbed back to the top of the table after last week's win against Glasgow Hawks, but they will be on their guard against ambitious Watsonians, who had a great start to their league campaign and will be eager to perform well in front of their home fans after some disappointing results of late.

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester has his team ready for the visit east.

"Last week the pack put in a really dominant performance and we will be looking for them to back it up this week in what will be a tough trip to Myreside."

There are a few changes to the squad, with Danny McCluskey taking over from the injured Ross Curle at stand-off; Robbie Smith starts at hooker after impressing from the bench in his first senior season; and Ruaridh Mackenzie moves into the starting XV following his try-scoring debut last week.

George Hunter stays in the back row for the third week, and Glasgow Warriors' Canadian international prop Djustice Sears-Duru retains his place in the front row.

Club captain Pete McCallum is amongst the substitutes and will hopefully make his return to action after overcoming a knee injury.

15. Grant Anderson (c); 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Stafford McDowall, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Danny McCluskey, 9. David Armstrong; 1. Djustice Sears-Duru, 2. Robbie Smith, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. George Hunter, 7. Ruaridh Mackenzie, 8. Blair Macpherson.

16. David Young, 17. Craig Stevenson, 18. Pete McCallum, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Jamie Bova.

15. Keith Young; 14. Mark Bertram, 13. DJ Innes, 12. Tom Hart, 11. Max McFarland; 10. Andrew Chalmers, 9. Reiss Cullen; 1. Martin Christie (c), 2. Sean Crombie, 3. Callum Eastwood; 4. Matt Poole, 5. Craig Borthwick; 6. Diarmaid Dee, 7. Angus Duckett, 8. Euan Dods.

16. Neil Cochrane/Darren Miller, 17. Dave Kennan, 18. Viliami Fihaki, 19. Euan McKirdy, 20. Ali Harris.

Kick-off 3pm!

Follow the scores for the 1st and 2nd XVs' games live on Twitter and the Ultimate Rugby app respectively.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

RBS Six Nations ticket prices

If you're an Ayr RFC member, you should have received a form to apply, through the club, for tickets for the 2017 RBS Six Nations.

There are some changes to ticket prices for games at BT Murrayfield.

Scotland v Ireland
Saturday 4th February, 2.25pm.
Adult tickets only
Gold - £85, Silver - £62, Bronze - £40.

Scotland v Wales
Saturday 25th February, 2.25pm.
Adult tickets only
Gold - £85, Silver - £62, Bronze - £40.

Scotland v Italy
Saturday 18th March, 12.30pm.
Adult tickets
Gold - £75, Silver - £50, Bronze - £35.
U18 tickets
Gold - £40, Silver - £30, Bronze - £20.
Student tickets
No Gold available. Silver - £40, Bronze - £28.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Ayr 39 Glasgow Hawks 13

Ayr ran in six tries to beat Glasgow Hawks 39-13 in the BT Premiership at Millbrae on Saturday and climb back to the top of the table.

The visitors began with a penalty struck by stand-off George Horne. 0-3.

Hawks looked like they were going to get off to a flyer, with former Ayr player Kerr Gossman surely headed to the line had the ball not flown over his shoulder instead of into his hands.

Captain and number eight Tommy Spinks made an impressive break but he was taken care of by Ayr stand-off Ross Curle and centre Stafford McDowall.

After an Ayr scrum, Curle spotted a gap and chipped on for McDowall. But Junior Bulumakau, Hawks' other winger who also once wore a pink and black shirt, got to it first. His full-back, erstwhile Glasgow Warrior Peter Murchie, couldn't take his pass.

Curle evened up the scores with a penalty. 3-3.

Ayr second row Robert McAlpine headed to the clubhouse to get his face stitched up and was temporarily replaced by Craig Stevenson.

With two teams who know each other so well, a bit of scrapping is always expected, but thankfully it escalated to nothing more than some pushing and shoving.

Again, it was Hawks who were going for it in attack, with centres Bobby Beattie and Brendan McGroarty making inroads. A forward pass scuppered them though.

Possession went back and forth between the two teams before Djustice Sears-Duru, Glasgow Warriors' Canadian international prop on his first appearance for Ayr, showed excellent hands to get the ball to centre Archie Russell, who muscled his way through the defence.
Captain Grant Anderson, second row Scott Sutherland and Curle got Ayr right up into Hawks' twenty-two and scrum-half David Armstrong scrambled for the line. But he didn't make and his opposite number, another Glasgow Warrior, Grayson Hart, found himself in the sin bin.

McAlpine returned just as Ayr got locked into some scrummaging and came out on top, number eight Blair Macpherson picking up the ball at the back and dotting it down for a try. Curle was on kicking duty and got the conversion. 10-3.

The Old Anniesland side could have replied with a try of their own after a chip by Ayr's Anderson came to the hands of Bulumakau but the Scotland 7s cap knocked on.

Again, Ayr dominated the scrum, gained a penalty, took the line-out and rumbled to the line, prop-turned-flanker George Hunter claiming the try. The conversion angle was tight against the touchline, but Curle struck it perfectly. 17-3.

Another Ayr kick ended up in Hawks' hands, those of Murchie, but in taking the ball, his own momentum slid him right into touch.

Ayr's line-out was firing well but they later knocked on, handing possession to Hawks. But they ended up getting it back only to give it away again in a bizarre period of play that ended with Bulumakau almost getting a try.

The visitors got their score moments later when second row Andy Kirkland launched himself over the line in the corner. Horne's conversion went awry as Ayr winger Craig Gossman charged at him. 17-8.
Hawks started the second half at a canter, flanker Grant Stewart barging over for a try. It was another difficult conversion for Horne as this time Ayr winger Richard Dalgleish charged at him and he missed. 17-13.

There was then a major shift in the game when McGroarty was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle on Sutherland. Their misery was compounded when Bulumakau was yellow-carded minutes later.

They did incredibly well to hold Ayr with just thirteen men but it couldn't last. Hunter, prop Steven Longwell, Macpherson, Armstrong and Anderson - in between what seemed like twenty scrums in a row - headed for the line and it was Macpherson who eventually went over for the try. With Curle off with a leg strain (replaced by teenager Paddy Dewhirst on his 1st XV debut), Anderson stepped up to the kicking tee but missed the conversion. 22-13.

Anderson would get some points moments later. Hunter, Russell, Armstrong and Gossman scurried for the line before passing to the captain, who dodged the defenders to score. Dewhirst had a go at the conversion but couldn't get it. 27-13.
Hunter moved to prop with Longwell off and Ruaridh Mackenzie made his debut for Ayr in the back row.

A strong scrum from Ayr let Macpherson loose, and he released Armstrong. The scrum-half dummied and made a leaping pass to Gossman, with the winger making a run for it.

It came to nothing as Hawks got a penalty. Their kick for touch didn't go far enough and Armstrong gathered and cleared. Hawks attacked from the line-out, but Russell, hooker David Young, McAlpine and Mackenzie got stuck into some thumping tackles.

A scrum apiece and Ayr got their hands back on the ball, with almost everyone firing it this way and that. A line-out to Ayr after Hawks failed to roll away was messy but flanker Will Bordill tidied up and Mackenzie capped his debut by spotting a gap and sailing through for a try. Dewhirst converted. 34-13.

Ayr emptied the bench, with Stevenson back on for McAlpine, Robbie Smith for Young and Jamie Bova for Dalgleish.

Tempers flared once again but a stern talking-to from the referee calmed everyone down.

A scrum for Ayr let Gossman rush off, with Stevenson and Mackenzie in support. It was Macpherson who went over for the try, claiming a hat-trick. Dewhirst's conversion was short. 39-13.

It was the final play of the game. Ayr celebrated being back at the top of the table. But Hawks are still only three points behind and Melrose just two, so there is all to play for after eight rounds of fantastic rugby.
Final score: Ayr 39 Glasgow Hawks 13.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Blair Macpherson.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Ayr v Glasgow Hawks preview

The best in the west go head-to-head on Saturday at Millbrae as Ayr take on Glasgow Hawks in the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm.

Just two points separate leaders Hawks and third-placed Ayr, and both teams will be giving it their all in search of a win.

"Hawks have played some outstanding rugby so far this season and will come to Millbrae full of confidence," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester. "The players are looking forward to the challenge in what is set to be a cracking west coast derby."

In the squad, Archie Russell returns at centre to partner Stafford McDowall, whilst Ross Curle will be calling the shots at stand-off in place of the injured Frazier Climo.

Glasgow Warriors' Canadian international prop Djustice Sears-Duru makes his debut in a lively front row along with David Young and Steven Longwell, whilst George Hunter stays at blindside flanker.

Robert McAlpine returns from Pro12 duty with the Warriors to reform his formidable double act in the second row with Scott Sutherland.

There are possible 1st XV debuts from the bench for Inverness-born Ruaridh Mackenzie and Paddy Dewhirst, who scored 23 points and was man of the match for the 2nd XV in last week's 78-12 win against their Hamilton counterparts.

15. Grant Anderson (c); 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Stafford McDowall, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Ross Curle, 9. David Armstrong; 1. Djustice Sears-Duru, 2. David Young, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. George Hunter, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Blair Macpherson.

16. Robbie Smith, 17. Craig Stevenson, 18. Ruaridh Mackenzie, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Jamie Bova.

Glasgow Hawks
15. Peter Murchie; 14. Junior Bulumakau, 13. Bobby Beattie, 12. Brendan McGroarty, 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. George Horne, 9. Grayson Hart; 1. Steven Findlay, 2. Scott Rodgers, 3. Gary Strain; 4. Andy Linton, 5. Andy Kirkland; 6. Andy Redmayne, 7. Grant Stewart, 8. Tommy Spinks (c).

16. Paul Cairncross, 17. Brendan Cullinane, 18. Sam Thomson, 19. Jack Steele, 20. Davie Milne.

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

Ayr 2nd XV play Hawks 2nd XV at Millbrae, 3pm, and you can follow the match via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Ayr 46 Stirling County 22

Ayr got back to winning ways in the BT Premiership but they were made to fight every step of the way by Stirling County at a mild Millbrae on Saturday.

With the lion's share of possession early on, Ayr waited patiently until they could find their way through the County defence, George Hunter - a prop starting at flanker - getting over the line for a try. Frazier Climo's conversion attempt hit the post. 5-0.

Ayr were without second row Scott Sutherland for part of the first half as a cut to the face within minutes of kick-off left him being stitched up in the clubhouse. Craig Brown, a late addition to the squad, replaced him.

There was nearly another try for Ayr when flanker Will Bordill hacked on a loose ball and centre Ross Curle chased, but even though he touched it down, the score was disallowed. 

Prop Steven Longwell and centre Danny McCluskey were in the thick of the attack, moving the ball at pace. Scrum-half David Armstrong, stand-off Frazier Climo and Curle were quick with their hands too, tidying up a messy line-out. Ayr redeemed themselves by stealing County's.

Climo stretched Ayr's lead with a penalty after Stirling were caught offside. 8-0.

The visitors hit back with a scything run by centre Fraser Lyle, and winger Matt Lamb racing away for a try that full-back and captain Jonny Hope converted. 8-7.

They were off again moments later, stand-off Ross Jones strolling in for the score. Hope added the extras. 8-14.

Ayr began to get the upper hand at the scrums though, number eight Blair Macpherson getting his hands on the ball to let Armstrong, McCluskey, Climo, Hunter and second row Craig Stevenson to muscle their way to the line. It was winger Richard Dalgleish who used his strength to get through the defence and score. Climo couldn't convert. 13-14.

Ayr lost McCluskey to injury, Stafford McDowall replacing him.
A knock-on by Ayr gave Stirling a scrum in their own twenty-two but a huge shove by the pink and black pack allowed Macpherson to simply pick up the ball and score. Climo converted before half-time. 20-14.

Ayr started the second half at lightning speed, Curle and wing Craig Gossman dancing up the touchline. Captain Grant Anderson scored. Climo's conversion hit the post again. 25-14.

Hope had a kick at goal but to no avail before another shot was successful. 25-17.

They gave away a penalty themselves shortly after and Ayr took the line-out. Prop D'arcy Rae spotted a gap and fended off tacklers to score under the crossbar. Climo converted. 32-17.

Jamie Bova replaced Dalgleish on the wing as County were starting their fight back but a huge tackle from McDowall dislodged the ball from a Stirling hand. Bova took it to Curle before Gossman scurried round the defence to get it to Anderson who slapped the ball over his head for Bova to take it on again. Unfortunately, he was bundled into touch.

The home team lost another player to injury, with Bordill limping off to be replaced Gregor Henry.

Gossman followed McDowall's lead and his thump on a Stirling attacker forced a knock-on. Bova and Curle launched themselves at the scrambling visiting defence until Armstrong cleared.

Stirling might have been spooked by Ayr's poaching prowess at the line-out as they twice took the quick option in a matter of minutes.
They made for the line with determination but a couple of handling errors denied them any points.

Ayr quickly moved the action out of their own half and drove for the try-line only to be held up. Two more scrums and Anderson got over for the score. Climo had been helped from the field minutes before with a leg injury, so Curle stepped up to the tee and converted. 39-17.

Gossman, Anderson, McDowall, Curle and Dalgleish (back on) sprang for the line but so keen were Ayr to get to there, they were almost tripping over each other. The ball got to Bova and he raced away for a try, which Curle converted. 46-17.

Stirling weren't out of it yet, their backs on the scent of a score. Indiscipline by Ayr reversed a penalty, and County secured the line-out. Wing Craig Pringle put his foot down and got the try after side-to-side play. Hope couldn't convert in the last act of the match. 46-22.

Ayr retained the Cairdeas Quaich, which the two clubs play for to mark the friendship between them.
Final score: Ayr 46 Stirling County 22.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Blair Macpherson.

- Elena Hogarth

Photos copyright George McMillan.

Ayr Ladies 12 Hillhead/Jordanhill 79

Ayr Ladies put in a performance to be proud of at Millbrae on Friday night as they went head-to-head with one of Scotland's best teams and gave the big crowd something to shout about.

Hillhead/Jordanhill has a long and proud history of producing international players and reaching more cup finals than you can shake a stick at. When the team last visited Millbrae to take on Ayr in the Sarah Beaney Cup semi-finals earlier this year, they showed just why they're so revered. This time, however, they didn't get things all their own way.

The power, pace and skill of the visitors were on show right from the off, and they opened the scores with a converted try early on. 0-7.

The ladies in pink and black knew they would have to get stuck into tackles and get stuck in they did, stand-off Catherine Shennan, winger Connie Griffiths and centres Catriona Cowan and Julie David leading the way.

The scrum took a battering at times, but the front row of captain Laura Turner, Lauren Gunn and Louise McLauchlan, shored up later by replacements Lisa Croniken and Michelle Nelson, did well under immense pressure.

Number eight Lynda Morgan managed to pick up from the back and make a break, with full-back Claire Law, Gunn, Turner, Shennan and scrum-half Emily Irving in support.

Flanker Kelsey Swift was not only looking for gaps in attack but tackling her heart out in defence, the diminutive back rower dragging down players twice her size.

Along with second rows Joanne Jones and Phoebe McDowall, she got Ayr into an attacking position in Hills' twenty-two and when the ladies from Hughenden strayed off-side, Law sprang into action, scurrying round the defence and over in the corner for a try. Shennan couldn't get the touchline conversion. 5-7.

The visitors replied with three converted tries in a row, their powerful forwards smothering Ayr and their lively backs finishing up. 5-28.

Ayr knew to expect fireworks from Hills, and instead of standing back and gazing at the show, they got their heads down and worked hard.

Swift and Gunn, voted the players of the match by Ayr and Hills respectively, were tireless in defence. Griffiths attacked well along with flanker Rachel Morrison when they wrestled possession away from the visitors.

It looked like another score was imminent as Hills pressed relentlessly towards Ayr's line. But some sterling work by the Millbrae women saw them turn the hot shots over and Morrison flew through their defence, running this way and that until she was into their half, fending off tacklers and lobbing the ball brilliantly over their heads to reach her backs.

Hills were pinged for a high tackle, but although Ayr could scent the try, they gave away a penalty themselves and Hills were off like a runaway train for yet another converted try. 5-35.

A solid scrum from the home team unleashed Griffiths, Shennan and Cowan, whose fantastic pass found the hands of David, who blasted her way through the defenders for a stunning try that Shennan easily converted. 12-35.

Hills swarmed all over Ayr, and even though Turner, McLauchlan and Croniken were firing the ball at speed, they were turned over. Big tackles from Cowan and winger Ann-Marie Connelly couldn't stop the juggernaut. The final try before half-time was unconverted. 12-40.

An unconverted try for Hills got the second half off to a start, quickly followed by another. 12-50.

The scrum was under pressure, but Irving did well to retrieve the ball and get it away to Shennan. However, they were beginning to get bullied and the turnovers kept coming.

Ayr had a great one of their own though, replacement Rachael Mulholland working hard at the breakdown.

But Hills couldn't be halted, and they claimed two further unconverted tries. 12-60.

It wasn't quite the pasting the scoreline suggests. Ayr camped out in Hills' twenty-two for several periods. the line-out held firm and despite the exhausting tackles, they didn't tire.

Even when three more Hills tries were scored - two converted - Ayr Ladies looked anything but despondent.

Morrison, Shennan, David and replacements Lisa Main and Kirsty Wilson were excellent with ball in hand, Morrison having the vision to chip over the top of the marauding Hills defence and chase. They couldn't get another score, alas.

When the final whistle came, both sets of players and their supporters showed their appreciation for a terrific game of rugby. They're just a few matches into their first season in the BT Premier League, but Ayr Ladies are growing in confidence with every performance.

Final score: Ayr Ladies 12 Hillhead/Jordanhill 79.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Ayr v Stirling County

It's back to the home comforts of Millbrae for Ayr on Saturday as they welcome Stirling County in round seven of the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm.

They have put last week's loss to Boroughmuir behind them and set their minds on retaining the Cairdeas Quaich, which the two clubs have played for over the course of the last two years.

"Last week was hugely disappointing," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester, "but the players have reviewed the game and are looking forward to getting back into action against Stirling."

It's a slightly reshuffled squad, as Ross Curle returns at centre to partner Danny McCluskey, and Richard Dalgliesh starts on the wing.

D'arcy Rae has been released by Glasgow Warriors and makes up the front row with Steven Longwell and David Young, with prop George Hunter having a foray at flanker for the day.

New addition to the squad Ruaridh Mackenzie will possibly make his debut from the bench.

Robert McAlpine starts for Glasgow Warriors in their Guinness Pro12 match away to Zebre.

It's Oktoberfest on Saturday at Millbrae, with Bavarian-style guest beers from West and Drygate breweries in Glasgow, food, and live music in the clubhouse after 7pm.

15. Grant Anderson (c); 14. Richard Dalgliesh, 13. Danny McCluskey, 12. Ross Curle, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. Steven Longwell, 2. David Young, 3. D'arcy Rae; 4. Craig Stevenson, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. George Hunter, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Blair Macpherson.

16. Robbie Smith, 17. Ruaridh Mackenzie, 18. Gregor Henry, 19. Jamie Bova, 20. Stafford McDowall.

Stirling County
15. Jonny Hope (c); 14. Craig Pringle, 13. Jake Cresswell, 12. Fraser Lyle, 11. Bruce Sorbie; 10. Ross Jones, 9. Nemia Kenatale; 1. Colin Hutton, 2. Reyner Kennedy, 3. Adam Nicol; 4. Hamilton Burr, 5. Ruairidh Leishman; 6. Matt Emmison, 7. Shaun MacDonald, 8. Struan Robertson.

16. Mark Hunter, 17. TBC, 18. Harry Henderson, 19. Matt Donaldson, 20. Ryan Elliston.

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

Ayr-Wellington U18s v Stirling County U18s is at 2pm at Millbrae. Ayr 2nd XV v Hamilton 2nd XV kicks off at 3.30pm at Millbrae, and can be followed via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Boroughmuir 24 Ayr 11

There was disappointment for Ayr at Meggetland on Saturday afternoon as their unbeaten run in the BT Premiership came to a halt at the hands of Boroughmuir.

The home team were the livelier from the start, despite glimpses of attack from Ayr winger Cameron Taylor, centre Stafford McDowall, props George Hunter and Steven Longwell and stand-off Frazier Climo.

It was an ominous beginning for Ayr's set-pieces, as the line-out went awry and Boroughmuir gained the upper hand at the scrum.

Ayr's straying off-side gave Boroughmuir their first chance of points, but stand-off Chris Laidlaw's penalty hit the post.

Their backs were slick and sharp, moving the ball from touchline to touchline with ease.

Ayr scrum-half David Armstrong delighted the travelling fans with a great kick that he managed to retrieve and set off on a mazy run.

A penalty for Ayr gave them the line-out but Boroughmuir snaffled it, although their clearance was charged down by second row Robert McAlpine, fresh from his appearance for Glasgow Warriors the night before.

Ayr headed for the line but couldn't make it, although Climo later struck a successful penalty. 0-3.

Ayr's backs, led by captain Grant Anderson and winger Craig Gossman, launched a plucky attack. But again, the line eluded them and Climo's boot got them the points instead. 0-6.

Laidlaw replied shortly after. 3-6.

Boroughmuir full-back Dougie Steele enjoyed himself immensely against his old club, and it was his scintillating break up the wing that allowed prop Ross Dunbar to fly over for an exciting try. Laidlaw converted. 10-6.

Ayr lost Taylor to a head knock, with Richard Dalgleish replacing him and getting stuck into attack after a break by Armstrong, with centre Danny McCluskey in support. Dalgleish got bundled into touch before he could reach the try-line.

Ayr lost another player to injury, this time flanker Will Bordill hobbling off, and hooker David Young came off the bench and into the back row.

A long miss-pass from Armstrong set Dalgleish off again, with many a pink and black hand getting the ball from one wing to the other, but Gossman couldn't take it.

Boroughmuir swiftly headed for the try-line only to be held up. Ayr then forced them back into their own half but gave away a penalty. Laidlaw had a go from just over the half-way line but the kick was unsurprisingly short.

The home backs continued to demonstrate their speed in the second half, but it was lock Jamie Scott who grabbed the try just after the resumption. Laidlaw's conversion attempt from out wide was perfectly struck. 17-6.

Armstrong got Ayr going from a steady line-out, Climo, Young, hooker James Malcolm, Hunter and replacement prop Adam Prentice in support but those finishing touches were missing, and Boroughmuir's confidence was growing as they had the league leaders on the ropes.

Second rows Craig Stevenson and Scott Sutherland (on for McAlpine) were tough in defence but Boroughmuir just had that little bit more ruthlessness with ball in hand.

Ayr's attack was ragged, despite the best efforts of number eight Blair Macpherson, Gossman and Dalgleish.

Some swift moves at the line-out by Malcolm and Hunter opened up a gap for Armstrong to motor through but the scrum-half couldn't claim the try. He was determined in attack though, pirouetting out of tackles moments later.

Yet another Ayr player had to be escorted from the pitch due to injury, Anderson this time. He was replaced by Graham Hunter, making his 1st XV debut.

Boroughmuir found themselves down to fourteen men when Scott was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on, but his team-mates coped admirably with his absence, holding Ayr up over the line.

They couldn't do it a second time, Macpherson easily picking up from the back of a trundling scrum and dotting down for a much-needed try. Climo couldn't convert. 17-11.

Boroughmuir decided attack was the best form of defence, winger Jordan Edmunds dashing about to get the home fans on their feet. Tackles by McCluskey, Armstrong and Graham Hunter stemmed the tide briefly, but captain Craig Keddie scored for Muir at the base of the post. Laidlaw converted. 24-11.

There was still time for Ayr to claw their way back into it, and flanker Gregor Henry did some sterling work at the break-down but he was added to the injury list, sadly being stretchered off with a lower leg problem after some attentive care from both Ayr and Boroughmuir's medical teams.

Ayr just couldn't keep a hold of the ball as they looked for more points. Graham Hunter twice made breaks but found himself isolated.

Stevenson, McDowall, McCluskey and Macpherson were on to something, but a chip by Climo couldn't be collected by anyone and it was soon full-time, bringing joy to the Boroughmuir team (and their supporters), who deserved their win.

Final score: Boroughmuir 24 Ayr 11.

- Elena Hogarth.