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).

Replacements
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.

Replacements
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.

Ayr
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).

Replacements
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.