Saturday, 18 November 2017

Ayr 26 Currie Chieftains 22 - BT Cup 1st round

Nothing quite brings the drama like a national cup competition, and the first round clash of the BT Cup between Ayr and Currie Chieftains had ups, downs, thrills, spills and everything else as the home team prevailed under the floodlights at Millbrae on Friday night.

Ayr had to contend with late changes to the squad due to illness and injury, a pitch that turned into a quagmire during the warm-up and a visiting side just as determined as them to make it to the next round of the cup.

Heavy showers before and during the game meant the ball was like a bar of soap, and knocks-on were unavoidable. Still, Ayr started well, getting to the Currie line, only to be turned over.

The visitors had no qualms about running with ball in hand in such slippery conditions and almost made it from half-way to the try-line, but knocked on. The referee had been playing advantage, and they came back for fly-half Jamie Forbes to kick a penalty. 0-3.

His Ayr counterpart Scott Lyle had a chance to level things but his kick at goal was unsuccessful.

Wise old head Grant Anderson - playing at scrum-half as a late replacement for Harry Warr - was busy tidying up loose ball and barking instructions to his team-mates, but Currie had another penalty. From a line-out, centre David Hall took off and the ball was taken over the line but held up by the tough Ayr defence.

Craig Gossman, at full-back with Jamie Bova on the wing, was escorted from the field by the medical team, and Lewis Young, making his 1st XV debut, replaced him. Young went to scrum-half, with Anderson moving to Gossman's position. It was the first of many a reshuffling of the Ayr team.

The Chieftains were fired up, flanker Thomas Gordon barging over for a try. Forbes couldn't make the conversion. 0-8.

Ayr had to match their intensity and the front row of props Robin Hislop and Steven Longwell and hooker Lewis Anderson controlled the scrum. Captain Pete McCallum broke away from the back of it but the ball was later turned over, and as hooker Anderson lay on the ground, being attended to by the medical team, Currie winger Ruairidh Smith cantered away for a score that Forbes converted. 0-15.

There was no panic from the home team at being fifteen points adrift. Their set-pieces were solid in the mud, the second row of Robert McAlpine and Blair Macpherson reigning supreme in the air, whilst the back row of McCallum and flankers Tommy Spinks and George Stokes joined in the grunt work elsewhere.
A mad scramble after a good line-out take by McAlpine needed Young to guide his backs, and that was what he did. He got the ball to Lyle, who put in a cross-field kick that was scooped up by full-back Anderson, who muscled his way over the line. Lyle converted. 7-15.

Ayr lost another back, winger Robbie Nairn being helped from the field by assistant coaches Pat MacArthur and Glen Tippett. There were no more backs on the bench to replace him, so up stepped the ever-versatile Scott Sutherland.

The game was getting scrappy on and off the ball. Lewis Anderson and centres Danny McCluskey and Sam Graham prevented Currie from doing anything with those scraps of ball, but the men from Malleny didn't help themselves with a display of petulance that caused French referee Luc Ramos to march them back ten metres.

Ayr took the line-out well, and drove slowly and carefully until great hands and vision from Hislop got the ball to Lewis Anderson and the hooker barged over in the corner. Lyle couldn't make the wide conversion, slipping over in the mud. 12-15.

Lewis Anderson was buoyed by his try, and impressed the crowd further with his rambunctiousness that sent a Currie defender flying.

Tempers began to fray, and a massive melee broke out in the middle of the pitch, with the usual pushing and shoving looking all the more dramatic with the players caked in mud and easily slipping over. It was the flankers who were singled out - rightly or wrongly, it was hard to tell as the boggy conditions had rendered shirt numbers illegible - and Stokes and Gordon were sin-binned.
Ayr changed shirts at half-time, but they were soon covered in mud.

The home team cared little though, and soggy jerseys didn't hold them back. Macpherson and Lyle threw themselves into defence, and Spinks was on the charge with ball in hand. They really started to turn the screw at Currie's set-pieces.

The bench was emptied, with Jonathan Agnew, Ruairidh Sayce and Robbie Smith coming on and getting stuck in.

Ayr stole Currie's line-out and shoved them off the ball at their scrum, Agnew grabbing the ball and diving over for a try after one such display of forward power. Lyle added the extras. 19-15.

They weren't safe yet. There was grit - metaphorical and literal - all over the Chieftains' faces. They marched up to Ayr's twenty-two, and, with Macpherson shown a yellow card for reasons unknown, they hammered the try-line. They couldn't get over it but didn't need to in the end, as referee Ramos did the trot of doom to the posts to signal a penalty try. 19-22.

The crowd could barely contain themselves, but the Millbrae men were calm, cool and collected. A penalty got them back into Currie's half, where a spot-on throw by Smith at the line-out was taken by McAlpine. They repeated the feat moments later, but the ball was knocked on.

Still, Ayr didn't despair. The forwards ruined the Currie scrum again, and willed on by the fans, they got their hands on the ball right on the try-line, Longwell finding a way over for the match-winning score. Lyle converted it in a deathly hush before the crowd erupted as the final whistle was blown.

Final score: Ayr 26 Currie Chieftains 22.

15. Craig Gossman, 14. Robbie Nairn, 13. Danny McCluskey, 12. Sam Graham, 11. Jamie Bova; 10. Scott Lyle, 9. Grant Anderson; 1. Robin Hislop, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Blair Macpherson, 5. Robert McAlpine; 6. Tommy Spinks, 7. George Stokes, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. Robbie Smith, 17. Ruairidh Sayce, 18. Jonathan Agnew, 19. Scott Sutherland, 20. Lewis Young.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Robin Hislop.

Many thanks to the local farming community, who sponsored the match, and BDO, who sponsored the ball.

Photos by Lisa Main. Please seek permission from the club before reproducing images for commercial or any journalistic purposes.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Ayr v Currie Chieftains preview - BT Cup first round

Ayr welcome Currie Chieftains to Millbrae tonight for the first round of the BT Cup, kicking off at 7.45pm.

The Chieftains are two points ahead of third-placed Ayr in the BT Premiership table, but this is winner-takes-it-all knock-out rugby, and league position counts for nothing. What is certain is that both teams will battle it out under the floodlights, with the home team roaring on the men in pink and black.

"The players are looking forward to getting back into action and are feeling refreshed having had no game last weekend," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester. "We will need to raise our performance against a Currie side that have been playing very well."

In the squad, Paddy Dewhirst starts at inside centre in place of Stafford McDowall, who misses out through illness.

Blair Macpherson and Robert McAlpine team up in the second row, with Scott Sutherland moving to the bench, where he is joined by Robbie Smith, who returns from injury.

Youngsters Ruairidh Sayce and Sam Graham retain their places amongst the replacements after impressing on their home debuts a fortnight ago.

15. Grant Anderson, 14. Robbie Nairn, 13. Danny McCluskey, 12. Paddy Dewhirst, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Scott Lyle, 9. Harry Warr; 1. Robin Hislop, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Blair Macpherson; 5. Robert McAlpine; 6. Tommy Spinks, 7. George Stokes, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. Robbie Smith, 17. Ruairidh Sayce, 18. Scott Sutherland, 19. Jamie Bova, 20. Sam Graham.

Currie Chieftains
15. Ben Robbins, 14. Ruairidh Smith, 13. Robbie Nelson (c), 12. David Hall, 11. Cammy Gray; 10. Jamie Forbes, 9. Matt O'Neil; 1. John Cox, 2. Callum Mackintosh, 3. Andrew McWilliam; 4. Stephen Ainslie, 5. Mike Vernel; 6. Scott McGinley, 7. Thomas Gordon, 8. Rhys Davies.

16. Graeme Carson, 17. Kris Burney, 18. Campbell Wilson, 19. Joe Strachan, 20. Mathew Hooks.

Kick-off 7.45pm. Follow the scores live on Twitter.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Ayr 28 Boroughmuir 15

Ayr overcame a difficult first half and a determined Boroughmuir in round ten of the BT Premiership at Millbrae on Saturday.

Overnight rain and a few showers throughout the afternoon (as well as hail) made the ground slightly boggy, so it was never going to be a free-flowing match. But both teams started with attacking intent, Boroughmuir centres Michael Brown and Ronan Kerr and Ayr fly-half Scott Lyle, winger Craig Gossman and centre Stafford McDowall showing what they were capable of with ball in hand.

Lyle got the first points on the board with a penalty. 3-0.

Boroughmuir patiently pressed for Ayr's try-line, steadily going through the phases, but big defense from McDowall, his centre partner Danny McCluskey and the back row of George Stokes, Tommy Spinks and captain Pete McCallum stopped them getting too close.

Gossman and Lyle were again looking for opportunities, the former quite literally jumping into action every chance he got.

Blair Macpherson joined Scott Sutherland in the second row for the day, and as well as securing their own line-out ball, they created mischief on Boroughmuir's throw-ins.
Tempers flared at various points throughout the match, with Ayr scrum-half Harry Warr receiving some 'attention' off the ball, and his team-mate prop Robin Hislop was shown a yellow card in the aftermath.

Youngster Ruairidh Sayce took Hislop's place - with Stokes temporarily making way - and the scrum held firm. In fact, Ayr did exceptionally well whilst a man down.

Ayr full-back Grant Anderson, hooker Lewis Anderson, prop Steven Longwell and particularly McCluskey put in a few bone-crunching tackles to save Ayr's bacon before half-time.

Ayr unfortunately lost Craig Gossman to injury. Sam Graham - like his fellow 20-year-old Sayce, a product of the Ayr youth system - replaced him, making his home BT Premiership debut.

Graham was in the thick of things at the start of the second half. After a pulsating break by McDowall, with Grant Anderson in support, Graham fired into the defenders until winger Robbie Nairn took the ball on and muscled his way over for a try in the corner. It was a tough conversion for Lyle and he couldn't make it. 8-0.
A scrappy period of play saw possession change hands a few times, but Ayr regained control with some dogged work by Sutherland before McCluskey shot off. Graham was in support and he powered away up the wing and over to score behind the posts. Lyle converted. 15-0.

Ayr disrupted Boroughmuir at their set-pieces but soon found themselves a man down again when Sutherland was sent to the sin bin. Boroughmuir fly-half Greg Cannie kicked a penalty. 15-3.

Robert McAlpine came off the bench to make a welcome return from injury, and would soon be on double duty in the second row when Macpherson was also sin-binned. But before that, Lyle kicked another penalty when Boroughmuir were caught offside. 18-3.

David Young replaced Lewis Anderson, not before the young hooker cheekily popped the ball to Hislop at the front of the line-out and the prop propelled himself up the park.

Lyle and Warr were pulling the strings at half-back, with the fly-half finding some excellent touch kicks. Again, Ayr caused havoc at the Boroughmuir line-out, and Nairn got his hands on the ball, bashing into his unsuspecting opponents with McAlpine, Hislop, Spinks and Longwell in support.

Lyle was back at the tee for another penalty. 21-3.
Ayr turned the screw at the scrum and were soon driving through the mud after a line-out, with Young touching down the ball for their third try. It was another touchline conversion attempt for Lyle and he struck this one perfectly. 28-3.

With the clock ticking down, Ayr fans urged their players to get the bonus-point fourth try, but it was the visitors who found a sudden burst of energy and enthusiasm.

Warr and Sayce had their hands full trying to stop the men from Meggetland, who marched through the mud with determination. Replacement Euan McKirdy scored but Cannie couldn't convert. 28-8.

Boroughmuir were away again, despite a thumping tackle by Ayr replacement Paddy Dewhirst, and they even threw in a fancy behind-the-back pass to set their dangerous runners off.

McDowall and Nairn managed to halt them but only briefly. Scotland cap Damien Hoyland was a late call-up to the Boroughmuir squad, and he showed all his class to send winger Jordan Edmunds over for a late try, which Cannie converted. 28-15.

Mere seconds remained but Ayr got back into Boroughmuir's half with the bonus point on their minds. However, the ball went dead and the game was brought to a muddy end.
Final score: Ayr 28 Boroughmuir 15.

Scott Lyle was the Slaters Menswear man of the match.

With thanks to match sponsor Ingram Motoring Group and ball sponsor Mauchline YFC.

Ayr 2nd XV were beaten 24-21 by Boroughmuir 2nd XV in BT National Reserve 1. Man of the match Johnny McCorkindale scored two tries with Michael Badenhorst scoring one. James Armstrong converted all three.

Photos courtesy of George McMillan. Please seek permission from Ayr RFC before reproducing images for commercial or any other journalistic purposes.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Lyle is October POTM

Scott Lyle has been voted the October player of the month.

The 21-year-old, who joined Ayr over the summer, took 25% of the fans' online poll, and receives a £50 Slaters Menswear voucher.

Scott has played at both wing and centre over the month, and has kicked 38 points in four impressive performances.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Ayr v Boroughmuir preview

Ayr welcome Boroughmuir to Millbrae on Saturday for round ten of the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm.

After last week's disappointing result against Watsonians, Ayr have had a good week in training and are looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd once again.

It's the last BT Premiership fixture until December, although Ayr will play at Millbrae on Friday 17th November in the first round of the BT Cup, when they face Currie Chieftains (kick-off 7.45pm).

"The players have been hurting after last week," said Ayr head coach Calum Forrester, "but they are looking to go out and put in a strong performance before the mid-season break. We will need to make sure we bring a physicality to our game."

In the squad, Scott Lyle makes his first start at fly-half for the injured Frazier Climo, whilst Jonathan Agnew also misses out through injury, with Blair Macpherson moving into the second row.

Robin Hislop takes George Hunter's place in the front row. Robert McAlpine returns to the squad after a few weeks out, and Ruairidh Sayce and Sam Graham move up from the 2nd XV.

Ayr 1st XV
15. Grant Anderson, 14. Robbie Nairn, 13. Danny McCluskey, 12. Stafford McDowall, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Scott Lyle, 9. Harry Warr; 1. Robin Hislop, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Blair Macpherson, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Tommy Spinks, 7. George Stokes, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. David Young, 17. Ruairidh Sayce, 18. Robert McAlpine, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Sam Graham.

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

The 2nd XV decamp to Rozelle for their BT National Reserve 1 match with Boroughmuir 2nd XV, kicking off at 2pm.

Ayr sit third in the table, with their opponents in sixth place. Once again, the mixture of youth and experience throughout the squad should stand them in good stead.

Speedster Jamie Bova returns to the starting line-up, as does prop Adam Prentice, who makes up a formidable front row with Ben Paterson and Stuart Collier.

Ayr 2nd XV
15. Johnny McCorkindale, 14. Jamie Bova, 13. James Armstrong, 12. Zac Howard, 11. Euan Hamilton; 10. James Pinkerton, 9. Lewis Young; 1. Ben Paterson, 2. Stuart Collier, 3. Adam Prentice; 4. Alan Miller, 5. Logan Richardson; 6. Craig Brown, 7. Seth Rae, 8. Cameron Reece.

16. Fraser Miller, 17. Sam Gray, 18. Cameron Taylor.

Kick-off 2pm at Rozelle. Follow the scores live via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

October POTM poll open

The October player of the month poll is now open!

Vote here before Friday at midday. The winner will be announced shortly after, and the successful player will receive a £50 Slaters Menswear voucher.

The poll features all the players who have been part of the 1st XV match-day squad for the past four games.

Ayr 12 Watsonians 48

Ayr were humbled by Watsonians at Millbrae in round nine of the BT Premiership.

The visitors set their stall out early, rumbling over the line but not managing to ground the ball. Moments later and their fly-half Ewan Fox did get the score, with full-back Andrew Chalmers adding the extras. 0-7.

Ayr put their foot on the gas with an exciting attack, instigated by the second row of Scott Sutherland Jonathan Agnew, the latter offloading beautifully to hooker Lewis Anderson. Captain Pete McCallum and winger Craig Gossman were in on the act too, but the phases came to nothing.

Handling from both sides was poor in places, and although Ayr were harrying Watsonians, they couldn't capitalise on their opponents' errors.

The penalty count started early for the home side, and Chalmers landed a kick to stretch Watsonians' lead. 0-10.

Ayr replied quickly with inside centre Frazier Climo launching himself over the line after a good burst by prop George Hunter. Scott Lyle converted. 7-10.
Hunter was appearing all over the park, displaying great hands to link up with fly-half Paddy Dewhirst, flanker Tommy Spinks and Climo, and his perfectly timed inside pass let scrum-half Harry Warr slip through a gap in the Watsonians defence.

A couple of strong scrums from the visitors helped them regain some control of the match, but all of a sudden, McCallum appeared with the ball and bounded for the line, with nobody able to stop him. It was a conversion attempt from the touchline and Lyle couldn't make it. 12-10.

Watsonians found a massive hole in the Ayr defense and raced away towards the try-line but the referee called them back for an earlier high tackle, much to the relief of the home crowd.

There wasn't much relief for the Millbrae faithful after that, however. Watsonians' handling may have been a bit iffy on a damp day, but their footwork was excellent, and, despite some fierce tackling by Ayr full-back Brandon Thomson, outside centre Rory Hutton sprinted away for a try, with Chalmers converting. 12-17.

Lyle lined up a long-range penalty but although the kick had the distance, it didn't have the accuracy.

Chalmers had a penalty kick moments later after Ayr were adjudged to have been offside - a charge levelled at them throughout the afternoon - and got it. 12-20.
Ayr came out of the blocks strong in the second half, McCallum showing impressive speed and agility, but they were getting pinged for infringements at an alarming rate.

Winger Scott Lyle, prop Adam Prentice and flanker George Stokes were busy in defence, as was Blair Macpherson, who came on for an injured Agnew in the first half.

There was no stopping Watsonians flanker Rory Drummond from scoring, and Chalmers converted. 12-27.

Again, Ayr were said to be offside, but Watsonians couldn't do anything with the penalty line-out.

Robin Hislop made his first appearance since joining Ayr in the summer and overcoming a lingering injury. He was straight into action, joining the defence. McCallum turned that defence into attack, ripping the ball from Watsonians hands.

The crowd was getting increasingly frustrated by the penalty count, but Chalmers missed the latest shot at goal.

Anderson, replacement Jamie Bova and Climo and his fellow centre Danny McCluskey were gritty in defence but Watsonians found a way through and it was the rollicking Drummond who made a charge for the line again. Chalmers converted from in front of the posts. 12-34.

Winger Ally Davidson got a quick try, with Chalmers converting. 12-41.

Ayr couldn't get a grip on the game at all, and the referee seemed to have his whistle at his mouth with unusual regularity.

Davidson claimed his second try of the day, and Chalmers got the extras. 12-48.

There was a short break whilst Climo was attended to by the medical team, and when the match resumed there wasn't enough time for either side to do anything before the referee blew the whistle, this time signalling the end of a very tough afternoon for Ayr and an impressive one for Watsonians.

Final score: Ayr 12 Watsonians 48.

With thanks to match sponsor Warranty Services and ball sponsor Ayr County Ayrshire Cattle Club.

It was a tight match for the 2nd XVs in BT National Reserve 1, with Watsonians just pipping Ayr 13-10. Cameron Reece scored a try for Ayr, with James Armstrong kicking a conversion and a penalty. Michael Badenhorst was man of the match.

Photos courtesy of George McMillan. Please seek permission before reproducing for commercial or other journalistic purposes.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Ayr v Watsonians preview

Ayr welcome Watsonians 1st and 2nd XVs to Millbrae on Saturday for matches in the BT Premiership and BT National Reserve 1 respectively, with both matches kicking off at 3pm.

On a run of impressive wins of late, Ayr are hoping to keep it going against the visitors from Myreside, who are sitting seventh in the crowded mid-table of the BT Premiership.

"We will need to make sure we start well against a dangerous Watsonians side," says Ayr RFC head coach Calum Forrester. "They have threats right across the park, with a big, physical set of forwards that we will need to stop at source to prevent the ball getting to the pace that they have out wide."

Ayr have plenty of pace themselves, with Glasgow Warriors' Brandon Thomson starting at full-back for the first time, Paddy Dewhirst at fly-half, and speedsters Scott Lyle and Craig Gossman on the wings.

With Stafford McDowall called up to the Warriors for their Pro14 match with the Southern Kings at Scotstoun tonight, Frazier Climo moves into the centre alongside Danny McCluskey.

Blair Macpherson takes his place on the bench after recovering from injury, as does Robin Hislop who could make his BT Premiership debut. The prop pulled on a pink and black shirt in the British and Irish Cup six years ago, and joined Ayr in earnest this summer from Doncaster.

Ayr 1st XV
15. Brandon Thomson; 14. Scott Lyle, 13. Danny McCluskey, 12. Frazier Climo, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Paddy Dewhirst, 9. Harry Warr; 1. George Hunter, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. Adam Prentice; 4. Jonathan Agnew, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Tommy Spinks, 7. George Stokes, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. David Young, 17. Robin Hislop, 18. Blair Macpherson, 19. Jamie Bova, 20. Grant Anderson.

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

After a fantastic ten-try win against Edinburgh Accies last week, Ayr 2nd XV come into this match full of confidence, but, like the 1st XV, they know they will have a tough challenge against Watsonians, who sit a place above them in the table.

They are boosted by the return of winger Cameron Taylor, hooker Stuart Collier and second row Michael Badenhorst, who rejoin a dynamic squad.

Ayr 2nd XV
15. Sam Gray; 14. Cameron Taylor, 13. James Armstrong, 12. Sam Graham, 11. Euan Hamilton; 10. James Pinkerton, 9. Lewis Young; 1. Ben Paterson, 2. Stuart Collier, 3. Ruairidh Sayce; 4. Michael Badenhorst, 5. Logan Richardson; 6. Craig Brown, 7. Gregor Henry, 8. Cameron Reece.

16. Seth Rae, 17. Fraser Miller, 18. Alan Miller, 19. Jack Brown, 20. William Chan.

Kick-off 3pm. Follow the scores live via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Hawick v Ayr preview

Ayr 1st and 2nd XVs have away matches this Saturday, travelling to Hawick and Edinburgh Accies in the BT Premiership and BT National Reserve 1 respectively.

Every team that steps out on to the hallowed turf of Mansfield Park is in for a difficult afternoon, and it will be no different for Ayr as they take on the fiercely proud Hawick, who are currently languishing at the bottom of the table.

There's nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal, and cheered on by a boisterous crowd, the home team will be looking to make a glorious comeback against the current league champions.

"With new management in charge at Hawick, we expect to see a resurgence from their players," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester. "Last week was our best performance to date, but we will need to raise our game again in order to build on that momentum."

In the squad, Scott Sutherland and Danny McCluskey return to action after recovering from injury, and Ryan Grant is back in a pink and black shirt since rejoining Glasgow Warriors. His fellow Warrior Brandon Thomson is on the bench, alongside Stuart Collier, who could make his 1st XV debut.

Ayr 1st XV
15. Grant Anderson; 14. Robbie Nairn, 13. Scott Lyle, 12. Stafford McDowall, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. Harry Warr; 1. Ryan Grant, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Jonathan Agnew, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Tommy Spinks, 7. George Stokes, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. Stuart Collier, 17. George Hunter, 18. Michael Badenhorst, 19. Brandon Thomson, 20. Danny McCluskey.

The 2nd XV take a very strong squad with them to Stockbridge for their match with Edinburgh Accies.

After last week's five-try victory against Heriot's, they are focused on continuing that high-tempo form.

Paddy Dewhirst and Lewis Young make a formidable half-back pairing, with pace and creativity throughout the backs.

Adam Prentice is welcomed back to the front row, whilst the back row of Craig Brown, Gregor Henry and Cameron Reece has an exciting mixture of youth, speed and guile.

Ayr 2nd XV
15. Zac Howard; 14. Jamie Bova, 13. Sam Graham, 12. James Pinkerton, 11. Euan Hamilton; 10. Paddy Dewhirst, 9. Lewis Young (c); 1. Fraser Miller, 2. Ruairidh Sayce, 3. Adam Prentice; 4. Jack Brown, 5. Logan Richardson; 6. Craig Brown, 7. Gregor Henry, 8. Cameron Reece.

16. Seth Rae, 17. Bill Lyburn, 18. Adam Paxton, 19. Alan Miller, 20. William Chan, 21. James Armstrong.

Kick-off 3pm. Follow the scores live via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Ayr 41 Heriot's 17

Ayr roared to a bonus-point victory over Heriot's at Millbrae in round seven of the BT Premiership.

It was the proverbial flying start for the men in pink and black as inside centre Stafford McDowall's galloping break released fly-half Frazier Climo and he cruised away for the opening try, which outside centre Scott Lyle converted, to the delight of the home crowd. 7-0.

Heriot's went on a rumble up the park, thanks to number eight Jack Turley, but it was Ayr winger Robbie Nairn who was in full bull-dozer mode, his opposite number John Rae not standing a chance at stopping him when he had the ball in hand.

Rae, though, was equally dangerous early on, and Climo had to spring into action to bring him crashing down. Second rows Michael Badenhorst and Jonny Agnew and hooker Pat MacArthur also put in crunching tackles before Heriot's full-back Ross Jones kicked a penalty. 7-3.

Lyle then stepped up to the tee and nailed a long-range kick. 10-3.

Props George Hunter and Steven Longwell let loose, before Lyle broke away and brilliantly offloaded to winger Craig Gossman, who raced over the line for the try. Lyle converted. 17-3.

Heriot's were awarded a penalty try soon after, with referee Ben Blain adjudging Ayr had illegally prevented them from scoring. 17-10.

Lyle then put that monster boot to use again and kicked another penalty from close to the half-way line. 20-10.
Lyle had another kick at goal when Heriot's prop Struan Cessford was sin-binned, but with the malfunctioning loudspeaker in the stand squealing away, he missed.

No matter to Ayr, as Nairn soon had the ball and was knocking over the Heriot's defenders like skittles. Agnew, scrum-half Harry Warr and flanker Tommy Spinks all showed great dexterity to keep the ball alive before it reached Gossman and he timed his pass well for full-back Grant Anderson to just squeeze in at the corner. Lyle took his short run-up to the conversion kick from between two of the advertising boards and landed it. 27-10.

A fumble from Ayr let Rae scoop up the ball and make a few metres before he was unceremoniously flattened by Nairn.

Ayr started the second half with gusto, Nairn leading the way, with captain Pete McCallum also on the rampage. McDowall brilliantly handed off a defender to sprint up the pitch but that particular phase of play came to nothing.

Ayr gave away a couple of penalties but Heriot's couldn't take advantage, especially when McCallum employed his volleyball skills to leap in the air and pat back an attempted kick for touch. Climo got the ball, kicked down field, and when Heriot's collected it and charged at him, the fly-half bundled them off the pitch.

Heriot's mobile back row of Turley, Michael Maltman and Jack McLean launched an attack, but the equally agile McCallum, Spinks and George Stokes were all over them in defence.

Ayr's scrum was on song too. With MacArthur off after an energetic and tenacious display, Lewis Anderson replaced him, Adam Prentice later joining the front row too in place of Longwell. The changes didn't affect the forwards and they put Heriot's under enormous pressure.

Despite a slightly soggy pitch, the backs were running riot. Gossman, McDowall and Climo combined to zig-zag through the blue and white shirts, with Gossman shooting off for a try, a pile of bodies left slumped on the grass in his wake. Lyle kicked the conversion before taking his leave. 34-10.

Paddy Dewhirst replaced him and was straight into the thick of things, linking up with McDowall to once again release Climo and the New Zealander turned on the gas and was unstoppable. Dewhirst converted the try. 41-10.
Ayr brought on the last of their replacements - Gregor Henry and Jamie Bova - in the final quarter, as Heriot's attempted to get a score.

With Agnew sin-binned for a professional foul, Heriot's took advantage of their increased numbers and attacked Ayr's line relentlessly. Badenhorst and Dewhirst put in a tremendous effort to stop them, but Turley claimed the try and Jones converted. 41-17.

Everyone in an Ayr shirt looked like they still had the appetite for more, and Hunter took them right up to the line but the ball was later knocked-on.

Heriot's held firm at their scrum, but Lewis Anderson and Henry smothered any attacking ambitions.

A Climo chip for the line was pounced on by Heriot's, and an exciting game was brought to an end.

Final score: Ayr 41 Heriot's 17.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Stafford McDowall.

In the 2nd XV match, Ayr beat Heriot's 38-22. James Armstrong scored two tries, with James Pinkerton, Cam Reece and Johnny McCorkindale getting one each. Man of the match Matt Davidson converted all five and added a penalty.

Photos courtesy of Amy McGillivray. Please seek permission before reproducing for commercial purposes.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Ayr v Heriot's preview

Ayr welcome Heriot's 1st and 2nd XVs to Millbrae on Saturday for round seven of the BT Premiership and BT National Reserve 1 respectively, with both matches kicking off at 3pm.

The Goldenacre side sit second in the BT Premiership table and are currently on a good run of form, but so are Ayr, and after winning last week's Ayrshire derby, they hope to have another victory in front of their home crowd.

Heriot's can turn on the power and the pace whether home or away, and Ayr head coach Calum Forrester is wary of the threat they pose.

"Matches between the two clubs have been tight affairs in recent years and we expect another battle again this weekend."

Ayr are boosted by the return from illness of inside centre Stafford McDowall and winger Robbie Nairn, who gets his first start for the club.

Whilst outside centre Danny McCluskey misses out through injury, flanker Blair Macpherson has recovered from his injuries and is named on the bench.

Assistant coach Pat MacArthur laces up his boots and starts at hooker, with his fellow Glasgow Warrior Brandon Thomson amongst the replacements.

Ayr 1st XV
15. Grant Anderson; 14. Robbie Nairn, 13. Scott Lyle, 12. Stafford McDowall, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. Harry Warr; 1. George Hunter, 2. Pat MacArthur, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Michael Badenhorst, 5. Jonathan Agnew; 6. Tommy Spinks, 7. George Spinks, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. Adam Prentice, 18. Blair Macpherson, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Brandon Thomson.

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

In the 2nd XV match, Ayr field a strong team as they take on seventh-placed Heriot's.

David Young returns to a formidable front row alongside props Ruairidh Sayce and Fraser Miller, and there is pace throughout the backs in what will surely be another entertaining game.

Ayr 2nd XV
15. Johnny McCorkindale; 14. Sam Gray, 13. Matt Davidson, 12. Sam Graham, 11. Zac Howard; 10. James Pinkerton, 9. Lewis Young; 1. Ruairidh Sayce, 2. David Young, 3. Fraser Miller; 4. Jack Brown, 5. Logan Richardson; 6. Craig Brown, 7. Seth Rae, 8. Cameron Reece.

16. Stuart Collier, 17. Adam Paxton, 18. Euan Hamilton.

Kick-off 3pm. Follow the scores live via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Ayr Ladies 19 Stirling County Ladies 48

Ayr Ladies had a tough afternoon at Millbrae on Sunday, as they took on Stirling County in the BT Premier League.

The home team got off to a good start, looking strong at the scrum and lively in the loose, the back row of Danni Hands, Kelsey Swift and Rachael Mulholland putting energy into the attack. Fly-half Catherine Shennan and second row Joanne Jones pushed to Stirling's line and hooker Lisa Croniken got the try. Shennan converted. 7-0.

Jones flew off again, after scrum-half Rachel Morrison took a quick penalty, and was unstoppable as she charged away for the try. It was unconverted. 12-0.

County got a hold on the game, and Ayr had their work cut out trying to stop their speedy backs. Swift, Croniken, second row Sonja Liekens, centre Erin Marner-Low and Mulholland put in thumping tackles but the visitors grabbed a converted try. 12-7.

Replacement Neve Finlay blasted her way up the pitch, with Hands also putting her foot on the gas. Winger Lisa Main's quick pass to Griffiths set her on a jinking run but Stirling were ready with big tackles to bring any attack to a halt.

After regaining possession, County headed for the line, and, despite tackles by Swift and captain Laura Turner, scored an unconverted try in the corner. 12-12.

There was a break whilst a County player was attended to, but it didn't affect the visitors, and once again, Ayr's defence had to work hard to subdue their attack. Griffiths and prop Louise McLauchlan, along with Morrison and Jones, were tireless in the tackle but County's quick handling was getting them out of trouble. Soon they had a converted try to go into the lead just before half-time. 12-19.

Just after the resumption, Ayr launched themselves into several phases of attack, Hands making another break. Swift and winger Catherine Clark sped up the touchline but tough defence saw Clark dragged out of play.

Stirling added another converted try. 12-26.

McLauchlan poached County possession and Finlay burst through the defence with Shennan and Mulholland in support. A penalty for Ayr let Croniken break away, and the ball passed through the hands of McLauchlan and Griffiths before Jones got her brace. Shennan converted. 19-26.

Ayr brought on replacements Stephanie Wylie, Jennifer Kerr, Jenna Garrett and Sarah Braidwood just before there was another injury break for a Stirling player.

The ladies in pink and black turned County over, with Kerr charging through the defenders, with Finlay in support. A lovely flicked pass from the teenage back row found Jones who passed back to Finlay before Liekens was let loose and found Mulholland.

The number eight set off on an exciting run, handing off several County players before she was tackled into touch.

Stirling fought their way out of their own half and scored an unconverted try. 19-31.

They quickly added another. 19-36.

Braidwood, McLauchlan, Griffiths and Jones were busy tracking down the Stirling attackers, with Swift putting in some huge tackles, but County were too fast and too strong and ended the match with another two tries, one converted.

Final score: Ayr Ladies 19 Stirling County Ladies 48

Photo courtesy of Alan Graham. Please seek permission before using any photos for commercial purposes.

- Elena Hogarth.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Marr 6 Ayr 19

Ayr beat Marr at a damp and soggy Fullarton in the BT Premiership.

It was the first competitive meeting between the two sides in nearly 40 years and the sidelines were packed with expectant fans. If they had been expecting a game of free-flowing rugby, they would have been disappointed, as a war of attrition ensued.

The hosts were the first on the board, thanks to a Colin Sturgeon penalty. 3-0.

Marr were full of attacking intent early on, and Ayr captain Pete McCallum, props George Hunter and Steven Longwell, fly-half Paddy Dewhirst and full-back Grant Anderson had to grit their teeth and put in the tough tackles.

Barely ten minutes were on the clock when tempers flared and referee Sam Grove-White sent Marr captain Angus Johnston and the aforementioned Anderson to the sin bin.

Scott Lyle stepped up to the kicking tee after a dangerous tackle on Dewhirst got Ayr the penalty. 3-3.

Sturgeon replied moments later. 6-3.

Ayr fought hard for possession and were beginning to batter through the Marr defence, Tommy Spinks - the flanker turned second row turned flanker again - being the battering-ram-in-chief.

A spate of injuries for Ayr had forced several reshuffles throughout the week and on the day itself, with Spinks moving into the back row with McCallum and George Stokes, Michael Badenhorst starting in the second row and Gregor Henry taking his place on the bench.

All the changes and overwrought atmosphere of a long-awaited Ayrshire derby didn't seem to bother teenage half-backs Dewhirst and Harry Warr. They were calm and focused throughout, and even let their creativity show on a dreich day, Warr's eye for a cute popped pass releasing Frazier Climo, who was playing at inside centre.

Dewhirst put in a cross-field kick but the referee brought Ayr back for advantage and Lyle kicked the penalty. 6-6.
Ayr winger Craig Gossman was bobbing about, just waiting for a pass to fly on to, but the match took a turn for the worse with a series of ineffectual kicks for territory, knocks-on and turn-overs that came to nothing.

Marr had the stuffing knocked out of them when second row Kyle Hatherell was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle. Lyle kicked the points for Ayr. 6-9.

The home team rallied, Glasgow Warriors' Greg Peterson - a former Ayr draft player - leading the charge, and they displayed great courage to press for the line. Ayr held them up.

They had two scrums on the five-metre line, and at the second, McCallum appeared with the ball and Ayr cleared their lines. A few kicks more, and Ayr had possession again, hooker Lewis Anderson motoring through the purple shirts, with Lyle, the other Anderson, Longwell and centre Danny McCluskey in support.

Half-time brought some respite for players and fans alike. But it was straight back into a cauldron of tension and emotion in the second half.

Sturgeon missed a penalty kick just after the resumption, but his team didn't let up when they had the ball in hand, Stokes, second rows Badenhorst and Jonathan Agnew and Longwell exhausting themselves in defence.

Lyle, Badenhorst, Gossman and Spinks linked up nicely when Ayr regained possession, and Gossman was on the receiving end of a lovely inside pass from Dewhirst, with Warr, Spinks, McCallum and Agnew in support. But that purple and gold defence was determined.
Again, all structure went out the window, the occasion seemingly getting to both sets of players. The referee had a tight grip on the game, and marched Marr back ten metres for mouthing off.

Ayr found their composure in the final quarter, McCallum leading from the front, with Hunter on his usual devastating form in the loose.

Hard work from Agnew, Lyle, both Andersons and Longwell, and jinking footwork by Dewhirst, created opportunities for Ayr. But the ball was later knocked on from a line-out. Ayr just used their bulk at the scrum though, shoving Marr and turning over. Again, Marr showed bravery and resilience and held Ayr up to prevent the try.

However, the hosts' next attempt to stop a score was illegal and a penalty try was awarded to Ayr. 6-16.

McCallum charged from the back of a scrum and McCluskey zig-zagged through the defenders, but Marr were later caught off side, and Lyle kicked his fourth penalty. 6-19.

Ayr brought on replacements Jamie Bova and Sam Graham, the latter making his BT Premiership debut and putting in a fierce tackle almost straight away as Marr had a final hurrah. They were pinged for holding on, with Lyle booting the ball off the park to bring a bruising afternoon to an end.

Final score: Marr 6 Ayr 19.

Photos courtesy of Alan Graham. Please contact Alan before using his images.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Smith is September player of the month

Robbie Smith has been voted the September player of the month.

It was a close online poll, with the 18-year-old front row player winning by just one vote.

Smith has impressed throughout the month with energetic performances at both prop and hooker. He receives a £50 voucher from Slaters Menswear.

Marr v Ayr preview

It's the first leg of the BT Premiership Ayrshire derby between Ayr and Marr on Saturday, as the Troon club hosts the current league champions.

With a 3pm kick-off, supporters are advised to arrive early at Fullarton and to car share/be dropped off where possible as parking is very limited on what will be a huge day for rugby in Ayrshire.

On the pitch, it's another game for both teams as the BT Premiership reaches the sixth round. Ayr are a place above Marr in the table and will be focused on carrying on their good form of the past fortnight.

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester is cautious, however, as Marr have fully embraced life in the BT Premiership.

"We are under no illusion as to how difficult the task will be. But the players are relishing the challenge."

A number of players who have previously been involved with Ayr in some capacity pepper the Marr squad. In the Ayr ranks, Ryan Grant returns to the bench after Glasgow Warriors released him for the weekend.

Stafford McDowall and Robbie Smith miss out due to illness and injury. Frazier Climo and Lewis Anderson take their respective places, with the former combining with Danny McCluskey to create a dynamic centre duo, and the latter bringing his pace and power to an already speedy and strong front row.

Tommy Spinks and Jonathan Agnew team up in the second row in place of the injured Robert McAlpine and Scott Sutherland, and Paddy Dewhirst and Harry Warr make a lively half-back partnership.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Scott Lyle, 13. Danny McCluskey, 12. Frazier Climo, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Paddy Dewhirst, 9. Harry Warr; 1. George Hunter, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Tommy Spinks, 5. Jonathan Agnew; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. George Stokes, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. David Young, 17. Ryan Grant, 18. Michael Badenhorst, 19. Robbie Nairn, 20. Jamie Bova.

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

Ayr 2nd XV play Hamilton 2nd XV at Laigh Bent on Saturday in BT National Reserve 1, kicking off at 3pm.

Monday, 2 October 2017

September player of the month poll open

The September player of the month poll is now open!

Get voting for your favourite player of the past month. The poll features everyone who has appeared in a match-day squad for BT Premiership fixtures throughout September.

The vote closes on Friday at midday, with the winner announced soon after.

Vote here.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Ayr 46 Stirling County 33

Ayr retained the Cairdeas Quaich in a dramatic, exciting match against Stirling County in the BT Premiership at Millbrae on Saturday.

The sun was shining, the beer was flowing for Oktoberfest and there was a great atmosphere for both sets of players to compete in.

It was the visitors who got on the board first. After full-back Jonny Hope missed a kick at goal, teenage winger Logan Trotter raced away for a try between the posts, which Hope converted. 0-7.

There was a long delay as Ayr second row Robert McAlpine was attended to by both medical teams and left the pitch. He was replaced by Gregor Henry, himself a late addition to the squad.

Ayr had their hands full with the lively County team but they were level-pegging in attack, winger Craig Gossman leading the charge, with centres Stafford McDowall and Danny McCluskey buzzing about the park all afternoon too.

The men in pink and black have an extremely mobile front row, and props George Hunter and Steven Longwell were involved in the run-up to the Ayr's first try, the former blasting through the County defence and the latter flipping the ball to winger Scott Lyle, who scurried over. The conversion was right on the touchline but Lyle made it look easy. 7-7.

The big story had been the return of three former Ayr players to Millbrae in County colours, but that tale never left the page to materialise on the pitch. Gossman the elder caused his brother Kerr - in his first season at Stirling after a spell at Glasgow Hawks last year - to spill the ball but their paths never crossed again during the match. More of Messrs Curle and Jericevich later.

Ayr lost Longwell to injury, with Robbie Smith moving to prop to make way at hooker for Lewis Anderson.
The home backs were gelling well, with the back row of George Stokes, Blair Macpherson and Pete McCallum injecting energy into the proceedings too. Fly-half Frazier Climo muscled over for a second try for the Millbrae men. It was another conversion attempt from the touchline and Lyle got this one too. 14-7.

McCluskey broke away in mid-field but was abruptly halted by a high tackle by Stirling County's Ross Curle. From the penalty line-out, Hunter sped off, with McDowall, Climo and that industrious back row of Ayr's making light work of the County defence until Lyle lined up another kick - a penalty this time - and nailed it. 17-7.

There was little to separate the two teams in the set pieces, and chips and high balls were employed by both to gain territory and try and spark some creative attack. Lyle was involved in both, his chipped kick bobbling past Curle nicely, and then he was under a high one from the ensuing County line-out, and managed to get it away to his team-mates as black, red and white shirts engulfed him.

The crowd took exception to the off-the-ball man-handling of scrum-half Harry Warr and this sparked the usual squaring up and shoving, but the refereeing team calmed the situation and Ayr got a penalty. A series of scrums followed, rather taking the zip out of the game until McCallum marched for the line only to be held up.

A couple of scrums later and Macpherson got the ball down for the try, with Lyle adding the extras. 24-7.

The second half began with a few comings and goings. Robbie Nairn made his Ayr debut, replacing Gossman on the wing. Joining Gossman on the sidelines for ten minutes was Hunter, who was shown a yellow card along with County prop Remy Chies for an unknown misdemeanour. Henry followed for a professional foul, meaning it was thirteen against fourteen for a few minutes.

Ayr were spirited in defence, but they couldn't catch Hope, who scored a try and converted it. 24-14.
Hope was the main man for Stirling. With Curle looking harassed, largely thanks to Ayr full-back Grant Anderson, it was Hope's dancing feet that did the damage. Not long after his first try and conversion, he got his second. 24-21.

Smith had run himself ragged, and the robust front rower took his leave to be replaced by David Young as Ayr fans started to get nervous with just Lyle's earlier penalty separating the two sides.

County were looking to clear their lines but they didn't see the 6'3" Nairn looming down on their little half-backs. He charged down the kick, spun round, picked up the ball and bulldozed his way to the try-line for a score that got the Millbrae faithful on their feet. Lyle's conversion looked like it was going over but it hit the upright. 29-21.

Curle managed to shake off the attentions of Anderson long enough to release Kerr Gossman, who flew up the touchline for an almost certain try had it not been for a perfectly-timed tackle by McCluskey that propelled Gossman off the pitch before he could ground the ball.

It was Ayr's turn to charge up the wing, but it was second row Michael Badenhorst - like Henry and Young, a late addition to the match day squad - who took off before popping the ball to Lyle, with the winger getting his brace. He converted his try too. 36-21.

After a busy afternoon, Stokes took his leave, with Paddy Dewhirst coming on and the reshuffle of backs becoming forwards causing uncontested scrums.

Ayr were caught napping, and Peter Jericevich - a former Ayr scrum-half playing at fly-half for County - whizzed over for a try that Hope converted. 36-28.
There was still so much more to come from this match. McCluskey hit the ball like a train, with Lyle backing him up and flying into County defenders and Nairn in on the act too. But it was the quick thinking of Warr that got Ayr their sixth try of the day. Not waiting for anyone or anything, he picked up the ball and bounced over for a cheeky try. Lyle couldn't convert. 41-28.

Ayr's youngsters and new boys were having a great day, not so much Curle, who found himself completely flattened by his former centre partner McDowall.

The 19-year-old centre was soon powering up the wing like a man possessed, using all his bulk to escape the defenders and, like Warr, scoring his first try in an Ayr shirt. It went unconverted. 46-28.

McDowall was back in the thick of things with Nairn and Lewis Anderson but he was tackled in a dangerous fashion by Curle, who was lucky not to land himself in the sin bin for his recklessness.

Instead, it was Climo who, moments later, was yellow-carded for kicking the ball away after a great burst by Dewhirst came to nothing.

County got the final score, scrum-half Ruairidh Swan nipping in for an unconverted try. 46-33.

With a few minutes left on the clock, Ayr still had the energy and enthusiasm to go looking for more points, McCallum showing guile and leadership not to let County snaffle away possession. Lewis Anderson and Lyle were on the look-out but the final whistle went before they could get near the try-line again.

Final score: Ayr 46 Stirling County 33.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Scott Lyle.

Match sponsor: TCS Construction. Ball sponsor: Hall Thomson.

In the 2nd XV match, Ayr beat Stirling County 28-24. Ayr flew into the lead but County came back in the second half, getting themselves a one-point lead with eight minutes to go. But Jamie Bova's try sealed the victory for Ayr. James Pinkerton, Adam Paxton and Lewis Young also scored tries, with Matt Davidson converting one and adding two penalties to see them to the win in the BT National Reserve 1. Cameron Reece was the man of the match.
- Elena Hogarth.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Ayr v Stirling County preview

Ayr and Stirling County compete for the Cairdeas Quaich at Millbrae on Saturday, kicking off at 3pm in the BT Premiership.

The additional silverware marks the friendship between the two clubs but the teams will be putting that to one side until the final whistle as they battle for points in the league. County are currently second and will be looking to maintain that spot, whilst on the back of an encouraging win against Currie Chieftains last weekend, Ayr are focused on moving up the leader board.

"Last week was a much improved performance," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester. "The challenge for us is to put in a performance for the full 80 minutes this weekend against a Stirling side that is full of confidence having started the season strongly."

Three former Ayr players return to Millbrae in County colours, with Ross Curle, Kerr Gossman and Peter Jericevich starting against their old team-mates.

In the Ayr squad, the starting line-up is unchanged from last week. Tommy Spinks is named on the bench after shaking off an injury, and Robbie Nairn could make his debut after joining the club in the summer.

Ayr 1st XV
15. Grant Anderson; 14. Scott Lyle, 13. Danny McCluskey, 12. Stafford McDowall, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. Harry Warr; 1. George Hunter, 2. Robbie Smith, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. George Stokes, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. Adam Prentice, 18. Tommy Spinks, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Robbie Nairn.

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

The 2nd XV also play host to Stirling County in BT National Reserve 1.

After drawing with Currie Chieftains A last week, Ayr look to return to their try-scoring form.

Once again, there is a good balance of young talent and experience in the squad, with Stuart Fenwick making a possible comeback off the bench.

Ayr 2nd XV
15. Johnny McCorkindale; 14. Jamie Bova, 13. Matt Davidson, 12. Sam Graham, 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. James Pinkerton, 9. Lewis Young; 1. Ruairidh Sayce, 2. Stuart Collier, 3. Fraser Miller; 4. Seth Rae, 5. Adam Paxton; 6. Craig Brown, 7. Gregor Henry, 8. Cameron Reece.

16. Stuart Fenwick, 17. Alistair Hutton, 18. Logan Richardson, 19. James Armstrong, 20. Sam Gray.

Kick-off 3pm. Follow the scores via the Ultimate Rugby App.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Currie Chieftains 15 Ayr 24

Ayr got back to winning ways with a 24-15 win against Currie Chieftains in the BT Premiership at Malleny Park.

The visitors were calm, cool and collected from the off, the forwards bossing the early set-pieces, whilst the backs were full of controlled precision.

Second row Robert McAlpine led the charge in the loose, with centre Stafford McDowall handing off to maraud his way up the pitch. Scrum-half Harry Warr, second row Scott Sutherland and prop George Hunter - the latter two on their return after a few weeks' absence - kept the ball moving quickly until a long pass from fly-half Frazier Climo found Craig Gossman, who stepped in off his wing.

Play then switched to the other side, with Hunter in the thick of the action. His nicely timed pass was seized upon by captain Pete McCallum, who motored over for an excellent try. Winger Scott Lyle easily converted. 0-7.

The work-rate only increased from there, Gossman ready to spring onto any loose pass by Currie, McCallum and Lyle ready to spring onto any Currie attacker.

After a free kick at the scrum for Ayr, hooker Robbie Smith mowed down the home defenders and Gossman suddenly shot off like a rocket up the touchline and over the whitewash for a try. Lyle got the tricky conversion. 0-14.

Even when the Chieftains were lively with ball in hand, big tackles from Smith, McDowall and flankers Blair Macpherson and George Stokes stopped them in their tracks. They forced the turnover, and Stokes broke away. A few kicks followed, then Climo barged through the bodies with McDowall and Gossman in support. But the game came to a halt with Currie second row Hamish Bain stretchered off, injured.

Currie had a penalty line-out but the throw went too far, and although they got the scrum when Ayr knocked on, they were pinged and later gave away another for not rolling away. It was in a good position for Lyle and he summarily got the three points. 0-17.

Lyle was back at the tee moments later after his brilliant catch and run got Ayr back into the Chieftains' half; centre Danny McCluskey deftly popped the ball to McCallum and the captain got his brace. Lyle converted. 0-24.

Currie had a chance to get on the board just before half-time but the penalty kick by fly-half Jamie Forbes was missed.

Ayr carried on harrying and harassing the home team at the start of the second half, Climo and McCallum the thorns in their side. McCallum dotted the ball down over the line but the teams were called back for a knock-on.

Currie then felt the full force of the Ayr pack, as they were bullied off the ball at the scrum. McCallum, McDowall, Smith, McCluskey and Hunter swept through the home defence but the ball was knocked on before they could get to the try-line.

Glasgow Warriors' Brandom Thomson made his Ayr debut, replacing full-back Grant Anderson. Sutherland soon followed Anderson to the sidelines, but for ten minutes in the sin bin after a prolonged discussion between the refereeing team. Although it seemed Warr had been tackled high, it was his team-mate Sutherland who got the yellow card for an earlier unknown infringement.

From the penalty line-out, Ayr turned over and Warr cleared. But Currie took that line-out quickly and winger Ben Robbins scurried away for a try. The conversion angle was too wide for Forbes. 5-24.

Currie began to get a hold on the game and would have been headed for the try-line again were it not for a superb flying tackle by Stokes, with excellent follow-up defence by Climo and Macpherson.

Lyle had a final kick at goal, but missed this time.

Still, it looked like Ayr might get that bonus-point fourth try, Climo and Thomson combining nicely to move play out of their own half. A couple of handling errors put paid to any such hopes.

Smith and McDowall took a well-earned rest, and were replaced by the equally energetic youngsters Lewis Anderson and Paddy Dewhirst. Soon after, Michael Badenhorst replaced Sutherland, who had returned from the sin bin for a few minutes.

Badenhorst was straight into action with some hefty tackles, as was Gossman, but Currie's backs had a spring in their step, and no sooner had slippery centre Harvey Elms seemingly been halted than he was away for a try. Forbes missed the conversion. 10-24.

The home fly-half burst through the Ayr defence for a fine try under the posts but he inexplicably missed the kick for the extras right in front of the sticks. 15-24.

A hefty tackle on Gossman left the diminutive winger splayed on the turf, but he was able to get to his feet and thankfully walk unaided to the sidelines, meaning McDowall was back on for the last few minutes.

Both teams searched for one last try but neither could find it.

Final score: Currie Chieftains 15 Ayr 24.

In the 2nd XV match, James Armstrong scored a try for Ayr, converted by Matt Davidson, who also kicked four penalties. But Chieftains A came roaring back in the second half, and it was 19-19 at full-time. Sam Graham was Ayr's man of the match.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Currie Chieftains v Ayr preview

Ayr travel east to Malleny Park to take on Currie Chieftains in the fourth round of the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm on Saturday.

Playing at the picturesque ground in Balerno on the leafy outskirts of Edinburgh is always a tough proposition for any visiting team, but Ayr will be hoping there is a repeat of last year's away victory after a couple of disappointing matches at the start of this season.

"There were lots of positive to take from our second half display (against Melrose last week)," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester, "but we will need to tighten up on our defence in order to get a result this weekend."

Ayr are buoyed by the return of prop George Hunter and second row Scott Sutherland, and Glasgow Warriors' Brandon Thomson could make his Ayr debut from the bench.

Ayr 1st XV
15. Grant Anderson; 14. Scott Lyle, 13. Danny McCluskey, 12. Stafford McDowall, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. Harry Warr; 1. George Hunter, 2. Robbie Smith, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. George Stokes, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. Adam Prentice, 18. Michael Badenhorst, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Brandon Thomson.

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

Ayr 2nd XV have been on try-scoring form at the start of their BT Reserve 1 campaign, and after last week's loss to Melrose Storm, they will look to bounce back and keep the scores coming against Currie Chieftains A, kicking off at 3pm at Malleny.

Gregor Henry, Adam Paxton and Jack Brown all make a return to the squad after injury.

Ayr 2nd XV
15. Matt Davidson; 14. Jamie  Bova, 13. James Armstrong, 12. Sam Graham, 11. Euan Hamilton; 10. James Pinkerton, 9. Lewis Young; 1. Ruairidh  Sayce, 2. David Young, 3. Fraser Miller; 4. Alan Miller, 5. Adam Paxton; 6. Seth Rae, 7. Gregor Henry, 8. Craig Brown.

16. Stuart Collier, 17. Jack Brown, 18. Cameron Taylor, 19. Johnny McCorkindale.

Kick-off 3pm! Follow the scores live via the Ultimate Rugby App.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Ayr 17 Melrose 34

Ayr came up against a ruthless Melrose at Millbrae on Saturday in round three of the BT Premiership.

The visitors from the Borders showed their intent early on, with barrelling hooker Russell Anderson scoring the first try, and centre Craig Jackson converting. 0-7.

A fumble at the re-start from Melrose allowed Ayr winger Craig Gossman to harry and harass the opposition, but they tidied up and cleared. A strong Ayr line-out followed, with captain Pete McCallum driving on before centre Scott Lyle stepped up to the kicking tee for a penalty. 3-7.
Melrose were bristling with energy, full-back Fraser Thomson a live-wire all day, and his initial jinky run led to winger Sam Pecqueur's try, which Jackson converted. 3-14.

Lyle was back at the tee after a high tackle on Gossman but the kick went wide.

Ayr were working hard, and the scrum was solid. In the loose, second rows Robert McAlpine and Jonathan Agnew were making a nuisance of themselves, and fly-half Frazier Climo and centre Stafford McDowall were trying to make something happen, but they couldn't get through that water-tight Melrose defence.

Gossman hit the ball like a train, but Ayr were later pinged for holding on, and Melrose moved out of the danger zone and into Ayr's half. Before anyone knew it, winger Ross McCann had scored a try and Jackson converted. 3-21.
Ayr hooker Lewis Anderson and prop Steven Longwell were strong with ball in hand, and scrum-half Harry Warr got stuck into the tackles, but Melrose soon had the upper hand at the set-piece and got a penalty at the scrum, which Jackson kicked. 3-24.

Gossman out-foxed the opposition at the re-start, zooming on to the ball and firing it to flanker Tommy Spinks, with fellow back-rower Blair Macpherson and Climo combining to make their way through the black and yellow shirts.

However, little errors were starting to creep into Ayr's game, and Melrose were lightning quick to capitalise. A spilled ball in their own twenty-two was scooped up by McCann. With no-one at home for Ayr, he hared away up the wing for a try that thrilled the travelling fans. Jackson's metronomic boot did the rest. 3-31.

Ayr hit back immediately, forwards and back working well together to send full-back Grant Anderson over. Lyle converted just before half-time. 10-31.
Melrose began the second half with another penalty. 10-34.

Ayr claimed a turnover, and Lewis Anderson, Spinks and Longwell charged for the line. They didn't quite make it, but a couple of line-outs kept them in a good attacking position. When they trundled for the whitewash, Melrose prop Ruairi McLeod illegally collapsed the maul, was summarily sent to the sidelines for ten minutes and Ayr were awarded the penalty try, which Lyle converted. 17-34.

Those were the last points of the match, but Ayr desperately tried to close the gap. Fresh legs in second row Michael Badenhorst, centre Paddy Dewhirst and prop Robbie Smith pepped them up.

Ayr strung together some promising phases, but Melrose fly-half Jason Baggott flew on to a pass and was away for a try had it not been for Dewhirst, who pivoted into a tackle and brought him crashing to the ground.
Spinks and Macpherson gritted their teeth and flew into the defenders, with Macpherson bashing them out of the way at will. A penalty line-out let Ayr drive for the line and Dewhirst dodged past the tacklers to go over the line but the ball was adjudged to have been knocked on.

Still, Ayr pressed on, young guns Dewhirst, Lewis Anderson, Smith and Badenhorst leading the charge, with McCallum and replacement Jamie Bova showing a clear pair of heels at times, but there was no getting near that Melrose try-line.

The defence did well to keep Melrose from adding to their points tally, Longwell, Badenhorst and winger Danny McCluskey tackling with might and forcing some wild passes from Melrose. The game, however, fizzled out and the referee brought things to an end.

Final score: Ayr 17 Melrose 34.

Ayr man of the match: Tommy Spinks.

Photos courtesy of George McMillan.

In the 2nd XV match, Ayr were beaten 34-45 by Melrose Storm. Ayr's tries were scored by Johnny McCorkindale (two), Cameron Reece, James Armstrong and Cameron Taylor, with a conversion by Armstrong. Ben Paterson was Ayr's man of the match.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Ayr v Melrose preview

Ayr host Melrose at Millbrae for the second time in a few weeks, kicking off at 3pm on Saturday in the third round of the BT Premiership.

This will be the fourth time in the calendar year the two teams have played each other, after the BT Premiership final, the BT Cup final and the BT Charity Shield, but fans are still not getting sick of seeing the men in pink and black and the men in black and yellow going head-to-head, as an exciting, entertaining match is guaranteed.

It has been a good week of training for the home team, and head coach Calum Forrester is looking forward to seeing his troops back out on the pitch after last week's loss.

"The players were hugely disappointed with their performance against Glasgow Hawks but the great thing about the BT Premiership is that we have another opportunity to go out this weekend and make amends."

There is a reshuffle in the backs, with Danny McCluskey going to the wing and Scott Lyle partnering up with Stafford McDowall at centre, and Harry Warr taking over from an injured David Armstrong at scrum-half.

Jonathan Agnew starts in the second row, and Robbie Smith moves back to hooker, with Steven Longwell returning to tighthead prop after three months of playing in Australia.

Ayr 1st XV
15. Grant Anderson; 14. Danny McCluskey, 13. Stafford McDowall, 12. Scott Lyle, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. Harry Warr; 1. Ryan Grant, 2. Robbie Smith, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Jonathan Agnew; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. Tommy Spinks, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. Adam Prentice, 18. George Stokes, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Jamie Bova.

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

After a fantastic 41-19 win against Glasgow Hawks last weekend, Ayr 2nd XV go into their BT Reserve 1 match with Melrose Storm at Millbrae with two wins from two, but the visitors always pose a threat home or away.

Backs Johnny McCorkindale, James Armstrong and James Pinkerton all return to the squad, as does second row Adam Paxton.

Ayr 2nd XV
15. Sam Gray; 14. Cameron Taylor, 13. Sam Graham, 12. Zac Howard, 11. Euan Hamilton; 10. Johnny McCorkindale; 9. Lewis Young; 1. Ben Paterson, 2. Stuart Collier, 3. Fraser Miller; 4. Alan Miller, 5. Michael Badenhorst; 6. Craig Brown, 7. David Young, 8. Cameron Reece.

16. Ruairidh Sayce, 17. Mandeep Samra, 18. Adam Paxton, 19. Seth Rae, 20. James Armstrong, 21. James Pinkerton.

Kick-off 3pm. Follow the scores live via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Ayr 18 Glasgow Hawks 28

Glasgow Hawks spoiled the party on Ladies' Day at Millbrae, as they out-muscled Ayr in round two of the BT Premiership.

With spectators crowding the sunny sidelines and the stand with ice creams and drinks in hand, the two teams enjoyed a great atmosphere to play in, and it was the home side who naturally fed off it early on.

Ayr caught a missed kicked for touch by Hawks, with full-back Grant Anderson and winger Craig Gossman stretching their legs. Centre Stafford McDowall and prop Robbie Smith pushed play on, before scrum-half David Armstrong and prop Ryan Grant exchanged the ball, and Anderson barged over for a try. Fly-half Frazier Climo couldn't convert. 5-0.

It was a changed back row, with Blair Macpherson moving to the second row in place of the injured Scott Sutherland and Tommy Spinks taking the blindside berth. George Stokes started at openside and Pete McCallum captained from number eight as usual. All four, and lock Robert McAlpine, injected energy into the opening quarter but Hawks were ready to pounce on any opportunity.

Although they had been shoved into touch as they headed for the try-line, they charged down a kick from the remnants of the ensuing line-out and second row Kiran McDonald bolted for the whitewash. Centre Jack Steele converted. 5-7.

With tempers boiling over as they so often do in this west derby, Hawks gained a penalty, took the line-out and winger Kyle Rowe put his foot on the gas for a try. Steele couldn't convert. 5-12.

Ayr got back into the visitors' half thanks to strong play by Climo, a neat step round the defence from Gossman and the usual bashing-through-the-defenders by Macpherson and hooker Lewis Anderson. A scrum in a plum position in Hawks' twenty-two followed but Ayr were penalised for collapsing it.

It was all too easy for Hawks to work their way back up the park and Steele added a penalty before half-time. 5-15.
Steele was back at the kicking tee at the resumption. 5-18.

Then Climo was. 8-18.

Then Steele was again. 8-21.

Centre Danny McCluskey managed to battle through the Hawks defence on an exciting run before Climo, McDowall and Gossman showed off their fancy handling skills. They were rudely interrupted by Hawks number eight Jake Eaglesham who found himself in the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on. Climo kicked the points. 11-21.

McCluskey set up Ayr's attack again, with solid support from Gossman. A scrum saw Armstrong whip the ball to McDowall, with McAlpine on hand to stretch play across the field, where full-back Anderson, Grant and Stokes powered through the red and black shirts. Quick work by hooker Anderson found Climo, and the ball went to the hands of McCallum who rampaged over the line. Climo added the extras. 18-21.
Spinks put his head down and bulldozed through the Hawks back row before Smith dealt with a flailing Steven Findlay, the big prop struggling to cope with his lively opposite number.

Climo had a chance to level the scores with another kick at goal but it went wide.

A bit of momentum had gone out of the contest until McDonald woke everyone up with a tremendous gallop through mid-field and all the way to the try-line, showboating behind the posts with the ball in his big paw, hoisted triumphantly in the air. Thankfully for Hawks' small yet vocal band of supporters, the second row remembered to ground it before continuing his gleeful celebrations. Fly-half Ross Thompson converted. 18-28.

Ayr got themselves back into the Hawks half thanks to a monster kick from winger Scott Lyle that came from deep within his own half and bounced and bobbled perfectly over the touchline at the five-metre mark.

The home team rang the changes, with prop Steven Longwell - only just returned from playing in Australia for the summer - replacing Grant, and Jonathan Agnew - fresh from scoring a try for the 2nd XV earlier in the day - taking over from Stokes.

Despite the pressure put on them by Lyle's kick, Hawks were not for turning. They battled out of their half and gained a penalty line-out. Ayr poached it, with McCallum charging away but they were later pinged for holding on.
Ayr tried in vain to get to the Hawks try-line with the clock running down, but it was no use, even with McAlpine, Agnew, replacement Paddy Dewhirst, Lyle and McDowall making in-roads. Time had run out.

Final score: Ayr 18 Glasgow Hawks 28.

Ayr 2nd XV beat Glasgow Hawks 2nd XV 41-19, with Ruairidh Sayce, Cameron Reece, Craig Brown, Euan Hamilton, man of the match Michael Badenhorst, Jonathan Agnew and Cameron Taylor scoring the tries, and Sam Gray and Sam Graham adding the conversions.

- Elena Hogarth.