Sunday, 2 April 2017

Ayr 38 Glasgow Hawks 22 - BT Premiership semi-final

Another Saturday, another semi-final and another win for Ayr as they beat Glasgow Hawks 38-22 to reach the BT Premiership final.

The visitors were full of vim and vigour in the opening exchanges, centre Brendan McGroarty and winger Kerr Gossman bullying their way through the pink and black shirts before scrum-half George Horne had an unsuccessful shot at goal.

Hawks' thundering full-back Jack Steele was next into the fray but hit the immovable Robert McAlpine, Ayr's towering second row felling him and gaining a penalty.

The home team took the line-out, but Hawks turned over only to knock on. Ayr had another go after Hawks infringed at the ensuing scrum, and drove on until the ball reached the hands of stand-off Frazier Climo, who nicely flicked it to winger Danny McCluskey. He slipped through the Hawks defenders with flanker Will Bordill in support.

Play switched to the other side of the field, Climo involved again, before centre Archie Russell managed to get an arm free from a pile-up and stretch for the line. It was a touchline conversion for Climo and he couldn't make it. 5-0.
It was compelling viewing as both teams traded possession and tried every trick in the book to get the upper hand. Just when Steele and McGroarty were away for Hawks, Climo stopped them in their tracks, and just when Ayr scrum-half David Armstrong, McCluskey and prop George Hunter were combining to move play up the wing, they were pinged for crossing.

It was a bad tempered game at various points, and Hawks captain Steven Findlay was the first player to go to the sin bin for an ill-advised altercation with Ayr hooker Lewis Anderson.

They pressed on without their skipper, hooker Cammy Fenton making a break before Horne stepped up to the tee again. He struck the kick perfectly this time. 5-3.

Ayr threw the kitchen sink at them, props Hunter and Steven Longwell leading the way, with centres Russell and Ross Curle, flanker Blair Macpherson and full-back Grant Anderson involved too. But the ball was knocked on.

A line-out throw for Ayr went too far, but Armstrong scooped up the ball and released Climo. Number eight and captain Pete McCallum took it on before a dangerous tackle on him by Hawks winger Sean Yacoubian saw him tumble dangerously to the ground. Yacoubian was dismissed for ten minutes.

McCallum received some treatment from physio Helen Reid and was fine to carry on, getting the ball moving from the penalty line-out. It was more deft handling from Climo that got the ball to full-back Anderson and he dotted down. Climo converted. 12-3.
Glasgow Warriors' young dynamo Scott Cummings was back in the Hawks fold and made his presence known all over the pitch, but Macpherson was more than a match for him, putting in a great tackle to stop him in his tracks.

A messy Hawks line-out was mopped up by Longwell, with Bordill and winger Craig Gossman firing the ball across the pitch for McCluskey to score just on half-time. It went unconverted. 17-3.
Ayr retook the field with intent, holding firm at the scrum to let McCallum loose. With Armstrong and Climo in support, second row Scott Sutherland fired into the Hawks defence. Gossman the elder then took it on, miraculously escaping unscathed from a thumping tackle. McAlpine then barged his way over for a try, which Climo converted. 24-3.
Gregor Henry replaced Bordill, who had run himself and the opposition ragged on his final appearance at Millbrae and was warmly received by the fans as he took his leave.

Hawks started to creep back into the game, replacement second row from Glasgow Warriors Tjiuee Uanivi blasting through midfield, with Curle clinging on for dear life.

Russell followed Bordill to the sidelines, with Stafford McDowall replacing him.

Hawks had a couple of scrums in quick succession before their exciting young flanker Matt Fagerson went over for a try, which was converted by Horne. 24-10.

Ayr got back into Hawks' half quickly and the tackles from the Old Anniesland side were heftier than ever. Armstrong took a double hit, with the thud heard in the stand, but the man of the match somehow managed to wriggle his way out and get the ball to his backs.

McDowall, Climo, McCluskey and Hunter charged off before Hawks reclaimed possession, but they didn't keep a hold of it for long, Henry turning over with aplomb.

A few kicks proved fruitless for both sides until Curle and McCluskey combined to send Anderson over for his brace. Climo converted. 31-10.
There was some reshuffling as Climo was replaced by Richard Dalgleish and Canadian international Djustice Sears-Duru came on in place of McAlpine. Macpherson moved into the second row and Hunter went to flanker, with Sears-Duru taking his front row slot. It made no difference to the already steady Ayr scrum, as they pushed Hawks off their own ball.

Full-back Anderson and Gossman's combined moves came to nothing as Ayr were pinged for crossing. Horne took it quickly for Hawks, but Armstrong was all over him.

Further changes were made for Ayr, with hooker David Young, prop Adam Prentice and scrum-half Harry Warr taking the field just as play became fraught.

McDowall gathered a loose ball, hacked on, Hawks nabbed it, then Ayr got it before McCallum galloped into the twenty-two with Curle in support. He flew away for the try, running round the posts to give himself a difficult angle from which to convert. And he did convert. 38-10.

Moments later, Curle was gone, red-carded for a dangerous tackle. Referee Keith Allen awarded a penalty try, which Horne summarily converted. 38-17.

Hawks' tails were up, Steele and McGroarty repeating their bullocking runs from the first half. But the latter couldn't get near the line thanks to a superb covering tackle by Warr.

Ayr were then reduced to thirteen men as Grant Anderson was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle, and Fagerson went over for his second try. Horne couldn't convert. 38-22.
It was a strange end to an action-packed match, but Ayr celebrated reaching another final. They will face Melrose at the Greenyards in the BT Premiership showdown on Saturday 15th April, a week before they play them in the BT Cup final at BT Murrayfield.

Final score: Ayr 38 Glasgow Hawks 22.

- Elena Hogarth.

Photos copyright George McMillan. Please seek permission before reproducing for commercial purposes.

No comments:

Post a Comment