Tuesday, 31 January 2017

January POTM poll open

It's time to vote for your first player of the month of 2017.

Ayr 1st XV have won three from three matches in January, with great performances from the whole squad, so it's a difficult choice.

The vote closes on Friday at 4pm, with the winner, who will receive a £50 voucher from Slaters Menswear, announced shortly after.

Vote here.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Aberdeen Grammar 12 Ayr 51

Ayr reached the quarter-finals of the BT Cup with a nine-try win against Aberdeen Grammar, but they didn't get it all their own way at Rubislaw.

It was a grey, drizzly day in Aberdeen, but the hosts had a bright start, retaining possession early on, and when they lost it, managing to turn it over.

However, a kick for territory was gathered by Ayr full-back Grant Anderson, he let loose winger Richard Dalgleish who found Frazier Climo and the stand-off (playing at inside centre for the day) sailed away for the first try. Paddy Dewhirst, in Climo's number ten shirt, couldn't convert. 0-5.

The ground was beginning to get quite slippy, but the scrum held on, number eight and captain Pete McCallum and scrum-half Harry Warr, launching an attack from behind it with winger Jamie Bova. But the latter quickly had to turn his attention to defence when Grammar nabbed the ball and charged up the wing. Bova hauled the attacker into touch.

Grammar made Ayr work hard for the next try, the visitors finding it difficult to get through the defence. Warr moved the game this way and that, outside centre Danny McCluskey and hooker Robbie Smith trying to breach the wall, until Bova dived on a chip over the line for the score. It was another conversion attempt out wide and Dewhirst couldn't make it. 0-10.

Another score was on its way, prop George Hunter, Smith, Bova and flanker Lewis Anderson all headed for the line, with the latter's back row partner Blair Macpherson looking like he would be the one to cross it, but it was prop Adam Prentice who eventually claimed his first points in a pink and black shirt. Dewhirst converted. 0-17.

Grammar half-backs Jake Gray and Sam Knudson injected some pace into their team's game but they were closed down just as quickly by the likes of Ayr second rows Craig Stevenson and Robert McAlpine, both of whom had another good day the line-out and helped the Ayr scrum shove Aberdeen around in the mud.

McCallum and Macpherson made for the line after claiming the ball at a Grammar put-in, but the greasy ball eluded Ayr hands, only to find Dalgleish on the wing moments later, and he flew over for a try. Yet another wide-angled conversion attempt for Dewhirst and he couldn't add the extras. 0-22.

Ayr were back in the corner quickly, McCallum diving over this time. Dewhirst's conversion was on target but hit the crossbar. 0-27.

Grant Anderson, Bova and Climo combined to get right up to Aberdeen's five-metre line but couldn't get any further until an Ayr scrum trundled past it, McCallum picked up the ball from the back and dotted it down for the try. Climo had a go at the conversion but he missed too. 0-32.

The hosts began the second half with vigour, getting their set-piece in order and releasing their speedy backs. They turned the ball over and winger Matt Arnold suddenly charged away for a try, which inside centre Tom Aplin converted. 7-32.

Aberdeen turned up the pressure with some probing kicks and full-back Doug Russell leading the backs through the Ayr defence. The visitors brought on some fresh, non-mud-splattered legs in Gregor Henry, Graham Hunter, Craig Brown and Ross Curle and they found themselves very busy, trying to contain Grammar.

Curle got the attack going for Ayr, with Henry in on it too, but a high tackle on the young flanker brought a penalty, and from it a line-out. It was another replacement, prop Steven Longwell, who fought his way over for a try for Ayr, which Dewhirst converted. 7-39.

Longwell stretched his legs, haring after an Aberdeen kick, which bobbled out of play before the hosts could get to it. From the line-out, Curle was off on a run again, but soon he was tackling alongside Henry and George Hunter to stop Grammar from scoring.

Curle, Smith, Bova and both Hunters - George and Graham - got stuck into attack but Grammar's defence held on long enough to repel them.

A couple of strong scrums - George Hunter now at number eight as McCallum had taken his leave - and a penalty when Grammar were pinged for holding on got Ayr back into a good attacking position and McCluskey blasted his way over the line, with Dewhirst adding the subsequent two points. 7-46.

Aberdeen quickly replied, Arnold launching himself on to an Ayr pass. There was no stopping him. It was unconverted, but the crowd was still cheering on their team. 12-46.

The men in pink and black had the final say though, Henry claiming an unconverted try just before the final whistle. 12-51.

Ayr now go into the quarter-finals of the BT Cup against an as yet unknown opponent, with the draw due to be made this week.

Final score: Aberdeen Grammar 12 Ayr 51.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Aberdeen Grammar v Ayr preview

Ayr make the long trip north on Saturday to start their BT Cup campaign at the third round stage against Aberdeen Grammar at Rubislaw, kicking off at 2pm.

After last week's hard-fought win against Stirling County, the men in pink and black are ready for another tough away encounter as BT National 1 side Grammar will be giving it their all in front of their home crowd.

"Aberdeen have been involved in a number of high-scoring games this season," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester, "so we will need to make sure our defence is tight."

The trip to Stirling took its toll, with several Ayr players missing out this week through injury. But this does let teenage half-backs Harry Warr and Paddy Dewhirst show what they can do, and gives Frazier Climo and Lewis Anderson the opportunity to play out of their usual positions of stand-off and hooker, as they move to inside centre and openside flanker respectively.

It's an exciting bench, with the experience of David Young, Steven Longwell and Ross Curle alongside the enthusiasm of Gregor Henry and Graham Hunter, both of whom made their 1st XV debuts earlier this season.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Danny McCluskey, 12. Frazier Climo, 11. Jamie Bova; 10. Paddy Dewhirst, 9. Harry Warr; 1. George Hunter, 2. Robbie Smith, 3. Adam Prentice; 4. Craig Stevenson, 5. Robert McAlpine; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. Lewis Anderson, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. David Young, 17. Steven Longwell, 18. Gregor Henry, 19. Graham Hunter, 20. Ross Curle.

Kick-off 2pm! Follow the scores live on Twitter.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Stirling County 14 Ayr 29

It was a misty and bitterly cold day at Bridgehaugh on Saturday and the game didn't really heat up until the last quarter when Ayr pulled away from Stirling County.

A large crowd had turned up to on cheer on the home team (a good number of the Millbrae faithful had made the trip up to Stirling too), possibly lured out on a winter's day to catch a glimpse of former All Black and current Glasgow Warrior Corey Flynn, who started at hooker for County.

The fans were treated to some early ambitious play, with Ayr winger Craig Gossman and his opposite number Logan Trotter showing a bit of fancy footwork, and Trotter's team-mates' handling was just as fancy. The alarm bells may have been sounding for Ayr were it not for the doughty tackles of scrum-half David Armstrong and prop Steven Longwell.

Stirling put the Ayr scrum under pressure but captain and number eight Pete McCallum managed to break from the back, finding Armstrong. His long pass was caught by Gossman, who welcomed Flynn to BT Premiership rugby by dancing round him with an effortless side-step.

Stand-off Frazier Climo made a half-break and Armstrong tried a half-cross-field kick for Gossman to chase but he couldn't get to it.

County had possession but the ball went loose, Climo was suddenly on it, and centre Danny McCluskey flew on to the offload and straight through the home defence for a fine try. Climo converted. 0-7.

Ayr centre Archie Russell and flankers Will Bordill and Blair Macpherson were kept busy all afternoon, closing down any Stirling attack, and they stopped the home team getting near the try-line in the first quarter, as hard as they fought.

Little mistakes were creeping in by both teams, with kicks either too far or not far enough and knocks-on from cold hands.

Ayr's line-out was working well though, hooker Lewis Anderson finding second rows Robert McAlpine and Scott Sutherland every time. From one such set-piece, Macpherson, McAlpine and then Climo all headed for the line but County had them wrapped up.

Points did come Ayr's way, with a Climo penalty. 0-10.

Richard Dalgleish replaced an injured Gossman, and he launched himself straight into defence along with fellow winger Jamie Bova, Macpherson, Russell and McCluskey. But they couldn't stop Trotter flying away for a try in the corner, excellently converted by full-back Jonny Hope. 7-10.

Ayr nearly replied just before half-time, McCluskey leaping around like a ballet dancer before prop George Hunter raced through the white, red and black shirts. He had McCallum in support but Ayr were pinged for holding on.

The visitors had an energetic start to the second half, Armstrong breaking, with McAlpine, Bordill, Longwell and Climo in support. The ball was lost and County took off, only to be bundled into touch by Bova and McCluskey.

Stirling were determined to get more points and - a short break up the wing by Lewis Anderson notwithstanding - had all the possession for what seemed like an age.

Even a charge-down by McCallum couldn't stop them and replacement Andrew Grant-Suttie scored, Hope again converting. 14-10.

The home team were away again, but Russell, McCallum, Macpherson and replacement back Stafford McDowall reined them in. The latter two then turned up in attack after an Ayr line-out, blasting through the County defence before Hunter muscled over for a try, converted by Climo. 14-17.

With fifteen minutes to go, the game moved up a gear. Replacements Adam Prentice, Craig Stevenson and Robbie Smith threw themselves into defence with Dalgleish and the Andersons, Lewis and Grant.

Armstrong broke away from a solid Ayr scrum and chipped on before Grant Anderson tried the same on the opposite side of the pitch moments later. Constant pressure in Stirling's twenty-two led by a galloping Sutherland with McAlpine, McCallum and Armstrong in support got the ball out to Dalgleish and he went over for a try. It was a wide angle for the conversion and Climo couldn't get it. 14-22.

Ayr were now on the hunt for the bonus point-securing fourth try with just three minutes to go. Another sturdy scrum and yet more good work from McCallum, Armstrong and Climo got them going in the right direction.

McDowall suddenly burst forth from mid-field and charged off, passing to Grant Anderson for the full-back to go over for the try. Climo converted. 14-29.

The clock ticking past eighty minutes, County had one last hurrah, scrum-half Matt Donaldson scurrying away. But he couldn't get away from Bova, and the whistle was blown, sending the fans and the players off to seek some warmth in the clubhouse.

It might be an equally chilly day in Aberdeen next week when Ayr play Grammar in the BT Cup third round at Rubislaw, kicking off at 1.30pm.

Final score: Stirling County 14 Ayr 29

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Stirling County v Ayr preview

Ayr visit Bridgehaugh this Saturday to take on Stirling County in the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm.

After last week's high-scoring win against Boroughmuir, the men in pink and black will be keen to keep the ball rolling as the league nears its conclusion.

County haven't played since before Christmas as their game with Melrose last week was called off due to a frozen pitch, but Ayr head coach Calum Forrester sees the danger in this.

"They will be raring to go, having not played in a number of weeks, and have a strong squad out this week."

Former All Black and current Glasgow Warrior Corey Flynn is part of Stirling's squad for the game.

In Ayr's ranks, Jamie Bova moves up from the bench as Danny McCluskey takes the inside centre berth in place of the unavailable Ross Curle.

Lewis Anderson starts at hooker, with Robbie Smith, Adam Prentice and Richard Dalgleish amongst the replacements.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Jamie Bova, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Danny McCluskey, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. Robbie Smith, 17. Adam Prentice, 18. Craig Stevenson, 19. Richard Dalgleish, 20. Stafford McDowall.

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

Hamilton 2nd XV v Ayr 2nd XV kicks off at 2pm, with scores updated via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Four former Millbrae men in Scotland squad

Gordon Reid, Mark Bennett, Finn Russell and Ali Price have been named in Scotland's RBS Six Nations squad.

The former Ayr players are amongst the squad of 37 that head coach Vern Cotter has selected before the tournament begins next month.

We wish Gordy, Mark, Finn, Ali and all the squad the best of luck.

Read the full story from Scottish Rugby.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Ayr 42 Boroughmuir 19

Ayr scored six tries to beat Boroughmuir in the BT Premiership at Millbrae on Saturday afternoon.

There was a minute's silence before kick-off to remember past player and club member, and Scottish Rugby doctor, Jim Hay, who passed away last week.

The game then got off to a flying start. There was barely a minute on the clock when Ayr flanker Will Bordill found a gap in the visitors' defence and flew through it for the first try, with stand-off Frazier Climo converting. 7-0.

Boroughmuir had their chances early on, with a galloping break by second row Callum Atkinson, but he was dragged down by Ayr scrum-half David Armstrong.

Ayr soon regained possession and muscled their way into Boroughmuir's half, firing the ball through the hands until prop Steven Longwell scored a second try. Climo lined up the conversion from almost the same position as the first one and it was also successful. 14-0.
Boroughmuir were rattled, their restart not going beyond the ten-metre line. From the resulting scrum, Ayr number eight and captain Pete McCallum drove his forwards on until the ball got to Climo, who put in a cross-field kick.

Boroughmuir fumbled it, Ayr winger Danny McCluskey quickly scooped the ball up and popped it to centre Archie Russell, who sprinted over the line for the try. Climo once again converted. 21-0.

More attacking opportunities arose for Ayr, with winger Craig Gossman chasing a kick and flanker Blair Macpherson and Longwell headed for the line, but not reaching it.

Gossman then found himself under an attempted clearance from Boroughmuir, getting the ball away to Armstrong, who had prop George Hunter in support before it was fed to centre Ross Curle, but his pass went to no-one.

It had been an incredibly quick first quarter, Ayr relishing the pace and Boroughmuir struggling to get organised. Ayr second rows Robert McAlpine and Scott Sutherland compounded the visitors' misery by bullying them at the line-out and upsetting their attacking plans.

Ayr's scrum held firm on the muddy pitch, but the ball was getting slippy and knocks-on by both teams ensued.
Boroughmuir found their composure though. They settled down at the line-out, and centre Mark Hare made one of his many breaks, before winger Jordan Edmunds glided through the Ayr defence to score. Stand-off Chris Laidlaw converted. 21-7.

Ayr racked up the penalties but Boroughmuir just couldn't gain any points from them. Whenever they set off with ball in hand, the likes of Armstrong, Gossman, full-back Grant Anderson and hooker David Young were there to close them down.

The ball loose after a fierce tackle, Curle kicked it down to Boroughmuir's twenty-two, McCluskey chasing, hacking on, collecting and very literally propelling himself through the air and over the line for a dramatic try. Climo converted just before half-time. 28-7.
Boroughmuir went down to fourteen men after the resumption, with flanker Aubrey Mcube in the sin bin, but they pressed on in attack, Edmunds leading the charge. Longwell and replacement prop Djustice Sears-Duru had their hands full trying to contain them.

Boroughmuir crept ever closer to the try-line, but some hefty tackles by McCallum and replacement winger Jamie Bova, and a particularly crunching one by Russell, repelled the Meggetland men.

The visitors eventually crossed the whitewash, former Ayr player Dougie Steele diving over to the delight of his team-mates. Laidlaw converted. 28-14.

It was then Ayr's turn to be reduced to fourteen, with Macpherson dismissed for ten minutes. They didn't let it affect them though. Armstrong flicked the ball to Sears-Duru, who found Longwell, with the man of the match blasting through the blue jerseys.

The ball was knocked on, but Longwell again headed for the line a few minutes later, with Russell, Curle and Gossman in support. A line-out launched McAlpine over for the score. With Climo substituted, Curle converted. 35-14.
The crowd wanted more and were disappointed when an offload from Sears-Duru to Bordill was deemed forward.

It was Boroughmuir who got the next score, despite industrious defence by Ayr, with Young and replacement second row Craig Stevenson bundling attackers away from the line. But the always dangerous Edmunds crossed for his second try. Laidlaw couldn't convert this time. 35-19.

Boroughmuir's tails were up and they zoomed off from a quick penalty, Ayr replacement Lewis Anderson and a restored Macpherson desperately trying to stop them. They were over the line but just knocked on before they could ground the ball.

Ayr had knocks-on of their own, handing back possession to Boroughmuir and their second row Matthew Tweddle raced off. He was tracked down by Ayr replacement back Stafford McDowall, who pounced on a loose ball, which was then kicked away.

Boroughmuir collected it and patiently made for the line but couldn't score again.

Ayr retrieved a Boroughmuir kick, and the visitors couldn't scramble their defence quick enough to stop Curle rocketing for the line.
It looked like a certain try, but he was somehow stopped just short and then held up. The scrum for Ayr launched another attack, the ball eventually going over in the hands of Bordill. Curle converted to bring the match to an end. 42-19.

Ayr head to Bridgehaugh next weekend for another BT Premiership clash with Sitrling County before their BT Cup campaign begins with a trip to Rubislaw for a third round match against Aberdeen Grammar. Their next home tie is on Saturday 18th February when they welcome Watsonians in the last round of the BT Premiership.

Final score: Ayr 42 Boroughmuir 19.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Steven Longwell.

- Elena Hogarth.

Photos courtesy of George McMillan. Please seek permission before reproducing images for commercial purposes.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Jimmy Hay

We're saddened to learn of the death of former Ayr player and member and Scottish Rugby doctor Jimmy Hay.

An orthopedic surgeon, he was educated at Ayr Academy, and his brother Stewart and son Andy both played at the club, and went on to have a distinguished and varied medical career, becoming a doctor with the national rugby team in 1991.

Read Jimmy's obituary from Scottish Rugby.

Jimmy's funeral will be on Friday 20th January at 1pm with a thanksgiving service at Sherbrooke Church in Glasgow (G41 5AD), then on to the Sherbrooke Hotel across the road. Club ties and family flowers only.

Our thoughts are with Jimmy's family and friends.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Ayr v Boroughmuir preview

There are just four rounds of the BT Premiership left, and Ayr welcome Boroughmuir to Millbrae for the first of these final games on Saturday, kicking off at 3pm.

In second place behind league leaders Melrose, Ayr will be hoping to put in a strong performance to close the gap with the Borderers, but seventh-paced Boroughmuir - as they showed at Meggetland back in October - will pose a threat with their ambitious play.

However, Ayr head coach Calum Forrester thinks the elements might have a say in the kind of the match on show this weekend.

"The way the weather is shaping up, it looks likely to be more of a forward-orientated battle, and the players are looking forward to getting back into action after enjoying their festive break."

The squad is boosted by the return of Scott Sutherland, Frazier Climo, Craig Gossman and Steven Longwell, with Glasgow Warriors' Djustice Sears-Duru on the bench.

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

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. Djustice Sears-Duru, 18. Craig Stevenson, 19. Jamie Bova, 20. Stafford McDowall.

15. Greg Cannie; 14. Grant McConnell, 13. Ronan Kerr, 12. Mark Hare, 11. Jordan Edmunds; 10. Chris Laidlaw, 9. Nathan Fowles; 1. Dale Robertson, 2. Tristan King, 3. Thomas Gracie; 4. Callum Atkinson, 5. Craig Keddie; 6. Aubrey Mcube, 7. Matt Walker, 8. Matthew Tweddle.

16. Stuart Clark, 17. Michael Henry, 18. Rory Woodland, 19. Dougie Steele, 20. Alex Cox.

Kick-off 3pm! Follow the score live on Twitter, with the 2nd XV game (kick-off 2pm) updated via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

January 2017 yellow jerseys

This month's Ayr Rugby Academy yellow jerseys were awarded to Jonny Faulkner, Chris Easton and Lewis Doak.

The jerseys, sponsored by Thistlefern, mark players' dedication and commitment to their academy sessions, and Jonny, Chris and Lewis have worked particularly hard over the festive period.

Ayr RFC director of rugby, Jim Lymburn, presented the boys with the jerseys on Monday night at Millbrae along with Ayr Rugby Academy director and head of development, Stuart Fenwick.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Cartha QP Ladies 14 Ayr Ladies 29

Ayr Ladies overcame a sluggish start to their BT Premier League tie with Cartha Queens Park Ladies to run in five tries and begin 2017 with a good win.

It was dry overhead but soggy underfoot at Dumbreck in the south side of Glasgow, and Ayr were largely confined to their own half for much of the first quarter, and the home team had the better of the possession.

Ayr were sturdy at the set-piece, dominating the scrums, but they weren't quite firing on all cylinders with (the albeit quite greasy) ball in hand.

The back row of Rachel Morrison, Phoebe McDowall and Kelsey Swift was kept busy, shutting down any attacking attempts by Cartha. Along with captain Laura Turner, hooker Lauren Gunn and stand-off Catherine Shennan, they repelled the hosts at their try-line, turned over and got themselves out of danger. But not for long.

A loose ball was scooped up by Cartha and they were away for the opening try, which they converted with ease. 7-0.

This woke Ayr up and they set off on a series of forays into Cartha's half, Morrison leading the attack, with wingers Erin McSorley and Kirsty Wilson in support. But the home defence was strong and Ayr couldn't get to the try-line.

Props Louise McLauchlan and Michelle Nelson and second row Sonia Liekens nullified Cartha's counter-attack (and later cropped up in attack themselves), until the home team lost a player to the sin bin for a high tackle.

Ayr took the penalty quickly and full-back Claire Law weaved her way through the defenders to score. It was a tricky angle for Shennan but she struck the conversion perfectly. 7-7.

The visitors took the lead after another solid scrum, Law hacking on for centre Julie David to chase. It bobbled into the hands of Cartha though and they cleared. Ayr secured their line-out, found David and she was unstoppable as she headed for the try-line. Shennan converted. 7-14.

Cartha levelled up the scores just before half-time with a flier of a converted try. 14-14.

It looked like the hosts were going to repeat the feat at the start of the second half, but Ayr wrestled back possession before they could get any more points, and McDowall lead the charge for Cartha's line. They were, however, held up.

Law, David and McSorley combined once again to break into Cartha's twenty-two and Morrison flew over for a try in the corner. Shennan couldn't convert. 14-19.

Ayr put their foot down from then on, Morrison, Law and Swift blasting through the tackles. Scrum-half Emily Irving kept the momentum going, with centre Connie Griffiths and replacement winger Ann-Marie Connelly - on her final game before retirement - moving play ever-closer to the whitewash.

Turner, who moved from the second row to number eight for the remainder of the game, picked up from the back of the scrum and found David, who danced through Cartha tacklers for her second try. It went unconverted. 14-24.

Cartha worked hard to get out of their own half but Turner and Law smothered any further attacking opportunities, as did Swift and Griffiths, with some textbook tackling.

Things became a little scrappy and ragged as the ball got more slippy, but Gunn, McDowall, David, Morrison and Connelly combined brilliantly to send Milissa Montague, on her Ayr debut, over in the corner. Shennan couldn't make the conversion from out wide before the whistle blew for full-time. 14-29.

- Elena Hogarth.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Main.