Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Ayr boys in Glasgow U18s and U16s squads v Caledonia

An unprecedented eleven Ayr players have been named in the Glasgow under-18s squad to face Caledonia at Murrayfield, kick-off 6pm.

Prop Kyle McNulty, second row Matthew Northcote, flanker Ross Hay, stand-off Paddy Dewhirst, centres Gregor Paxton and John McCorkindale, winger Sam Gray and full-back Mark Conlan all start, with Ruaridh Sayce, Gregor Lynch and Sam Graham taking their places on the bench.

Matt Davidson, Cameron Reece, Robbie Nicol and Calum Gaw start for Glasgow under-16s in their match against the Caledonia under-16s on Wednesday.

Good luck to all!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Player of the month poll for October now open!

It's time to vote for your player of the month for October!  Players who have made two or more match day squads for the men's first XV are listed. 

Last month's poll was a draw for the first time ever, with scrum-half David Armstrong and number eight Blair Macpherson securing the same number of votes.

The poll closes on Thursday morning at 10am and the winner will be announced soon after on Twitter, Facebook and our homepage.

Vote here.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Ayr 35 Melrose 17

The BT Premiership is shaping up to have more drama than an entire series of Downton Abbey.

Whilst ITV's Sunday night ratings winner is happy to let its plots plod along like a snail going uphill, Scotland's club rugby scene has twists and turns aplenty, with Ayr and Melrose two of the main characters pushing along the storylines at pace.

After last week's disheartening loss to Heriot's, it was hoped the men in pink and black would bounce back once they stepped on to their home turf against Melrose, and did they.  Barely had the whistle gone when the back row of Callum Templeton, Will Bordill and Blair Macpherson were throwing themselves around like men possessed.

Melrose were also in on the act, but took things too far when flanker Peter Eccles put in a high tackle on outside centre Ross Curle.  A few minutes later and Melrose got another ticking off, giving Curle his first chance at goal, with he duly took.  3-0.

The two sides each had a line-out and it was Ayr's which was the platform for the first try.  The ball flew through the hands of captain Dean Kelbrick and stand-off Danny McCluskey before being fired back to Kelbrick, who crossed the whitewash with eight minutes on the clock.  Curle converted.  10-0.

Two minutes later, and the home side was flying again.  A huge kick from scrum-half David Armstrong was deftly caught by Bordill and he set off full-back Craig Gossman, who found Curle and he was over the line before anyone knew what had happened.  He easily converted his own score.  17-0.

Melrose didn't let their heads go down, and a beautiful dummy from number eight Graham Dodds allowed him to make metres, but he was isolated and the Borderers knocked on a couple of phases later.

A squint line-out throw didn't help the visitors and Ayr were ready to pounce.  Gossman put his opposite number Fraser Thomson under pressure with a kick which, despite the Melrose man claiming it, ended up in Ayr hands.  Macpherson, second row Scott Sutherland, hooker Stuart Fenwick and McCluskey all had a go at getting over the line, but the latter was illegally prevented by winger George Taylor and he was sent to the sin bin at sixteen minutes.

This resulted in an easy penalty in front of the posts for Curle.  20-0.

There was hardly time for the players, never mind the crowd, to catch their breath and Ayr were off again.  Templeton stole a Melrose line-out and a few minutes later, used one of his big paws to casually pat aside winger Callum Anderson and outstrip the Melrose defence to sprint over for Ayr's third try.  Curle converted.  27-0.

The match then took an odd turn as it went from the ceaseless excitement of the first quarter to a period of at least ten minutes messing about at the scrum in Ayr's half.  The referee was not happy with the home side and prop George Hunter found himself yellow carded.

Melrose took advantage and wily prop Nick Beavon transferred his tricks from the scrum to open play and grabbed a try.   Joe Helps converted.  27-7.

Ayr moved play back in Melrose's half and after a couple of line-outs, a pile-up in the corner ensued.  The ball somehow spilled out and was tidied up by Ayr winger Richard Dalgleish.  Despite the best efforts of Curle, McCluskey and Kelbrick, they couldn't get over the line.

Melrose's line-out throw was again not straight, but they kept their composure and Thomson launched a promising-looking attack, with stand-off Austin Lockington in support.  He couldn't escape the clutches of the marauding Bordill, who clung on to his shirt. 

The visitors wouldn't be stopped though, and young flanker Neil Irvine Hess charged up the wing for a well-earned try.  It was unconverted.  27-12.

The torrential rain at the start of the second half quelled the excitement and both sides trundled back and forth for a few minutes before anything really happened.

Melrose looked threatening, stealing an Ayr line-out and Lockington was again charging around.  But they couldn't stop Hunter, who leapt on a kick charged down by second row Rob McAlpine at the back of a scrum, nicely caught the ball and sped over the line for the bonus-point try at forty-eight minutes.  Curle missed the conversion.  32-12.

Macpherson was putting in some big tackles and gaining Ayr a turnover but they were getting on the wrong side of the referee, sparking some hisses of dissatisfaction from the crowd. 

There was more disappointment at fifty-three minutes when Dodds crossed for an unconverted try for Melrose.  32-17.

Those were the last points for the visitors, although they didn't give up trying.  Thomson again led the way, but he was unceremoniously set on his backside by Gossman whenever he tried to breach the Ayr defence.

Dalgleish and his fellow winger Robbie Fergusson were also quick to snuff out any attacks, and Fergusson thought he was in for a try at one point only to be called back for a knock-on.

Replacement scrum-half Murray McConnell was buzzing around as usual, trying to cause havoc and his neat little kick almost did, but for Thomson managing to ground the ball before substitute Kerr Gossman could get to it. 

It was a good day all round for the bench, with James Malcolm, Fraser Watt and Andrew Dunlop making valuable contributions.

Melrose were either tiring or getting tired of being over-run and shut down, because the errors were ever-more prevalent.  They missed their kick for the corner when Ayr had infringed in their own half, booting the ball in the direction of the Burns Monument instead of the Brig a Doon Hotel.  They then knocked on when trying to catch Ayr's drop-out. 

Despite nice hands from Sutherland and Templeton, Ayr knocked on twice too.  Frustration spilled out on a couple of occasions, with the front rows squaring up to each other before the scrum was even set.

The match finished with Curle teeing up a penalty, despite grumblings from the crowd who were keen to see another try.  But the hard work had been done and Curle quickly slotted the kick before the whistle went.  35-17.

There's sure to be more dramatic goings-on next week when Ayr head to Netherdale to take on Gala, but for now they'll be delighted with a good win which puts them second in the BT Premiership table.

Final score: Ayr 35 Melrose 17.


- Elena Hogarth.

Man of the match Danny McCluskey receiving his bottle of Famous Grouse from head coach Calum Forrester.  Danny is sponsored by Boyd Digital.


Friday, 24 October 2014

Ayr v Melrose preview

Ayr face an extremely stern test tomorrow in round nine of the BT Premiership as they welcome Melrose to Millbrae.

Each team comes into the clash on the back of two very different results; Melrose swatted aside Gala and Ayr had something of a nightmare against Heriot's.  The Millbrae men have to be at their very best this week to overcome the visitors.

"We are under no illusion of the task in hand against a Melrose side full of confidence," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester.  "We will need to front up in what is going to be a very physical encounter."

Although the squad is full of familiar faces, it has been shuffled around somewhat.  Craig Gossman starts at full-back whilst Robbie Fergusson takes the left wing berth, with Kerr Gossman moving on to the bench.

The front row is comprised of George Hunter, Stuart Fenwick and Glasgow Warrior Jon Welsh.  Returning from injury is the towering Robert McAlpine.  He teams up with Scott Sutherland in the second row, meaning Callum Templeton moves to blindside flanker.  Andrew Dunlop is also making a comeback from injury, taking his place amongst the substitutes.


Ayr:
15. Craig Gossman, 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Ross Curle, 12. Dean Kelbrick (capt), 11. Robbie Fergusson; 10. Danny McCluskey, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Stuart Fenwick, 3. Jon Welsh; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Callum Templeton, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Blair Macpherson.

Replacements:
16. James Malcolm, 17. Fraser Watt, 18. Andrew Dunlop, 19. Murray McConnell, 20. Kerr Gossman.

Melrose:
15. Fraser Thomson (capt), 14. Callum Anderson, 13. Tito Mua, 12. Joe Helps, 11. George Taylor; 10. Austin Lockington, 9. Murdo McAndrew; 1. Nick Beavon, 2. Richard Ferguson, 3. TBA; 4. James Head, 5. Lewis Carmichael; 6. Neil Irvine Hess, 7. Peter Eccles, 8. Graham Dodds.

Replacements:
16. Nicky Little, 17. Ross Miller, 18. Ruiri Knott, 19. Bruce Colvine, 20. Richard Mill.


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

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ayr boys in Glasgow U18 win at Murrayfield

There was a noticable Ayr presence in the Glasgow under-18s team who beat their Borders counterparts 17-15 at Murrayfield last night.

Sam Gray, Gregor Paxton, John McCorkindale, Kyle McNulty, Matthew Northcote and Ross Hay all started, whilst Ruaridh Sayce, Sam Graham and Paddy Dewhurst were on the bench.

Gray and Paxton were two of three try-scorers for Glasgow, with Nicholas Moore of St Aloysius the third.

Read the full story here.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Forrester recruits Fergus and Finn

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester has secured the services of his current charge Fergus Scott and former team-mate Finn Russell to help coach the University of Glasgow teams.

As well as taking the reins at Millbrae, Calum has been putting the students at Glasgow through their paces since last season, having taken over from former Ayr player Peter Jericevich.  With Fergus and Finn now helping out, the pink and black influence continues.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Heriot's v Ayr preview

Ayr travel to Goldenacre on Saturday to take on Heriot's with another British and Irish Lion in the line-up for a tough tie in the BT Premiership.

After Sean Maitland pulled on the pink and black shirt a fortnight ago, this time it's Ryan Grant who has been released by Glasgow Warriors to begin his injury comeback and makes up a new look front row along with James Malcolm and Stuart Fenwick.  His fellow Warrior Jon Welsh is on the bench, as are the returning Will Bordill and Craig Gossman.

Murray McConnell starts at scrum-half and Robbie Fergusson takes the full-back berth in place of the injured Grant Anderson.

Head coach Calum Forrester was pleased with Ayr's defensive efforts last week in their win over Currie and knows that his team will have to be just as good again this Saturday.

"Heriot's are one of the most dangerous attacking sides in the league," he says.  "They showed from their result last week that they will keep fighting to the end, so we will need to be more clinical in attack and take advantage of the few opportunities that will come our way."

Ayr:
15. Robbie Fergusson, 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Ross Curle, 12. Dean Kelbrick (capt), 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. Danny McCluskey, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. Ryan Grant, 2. James Malcolm, 3. Stuart Fenwick; 4. Callum Templeton, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Graham Fisken, 7. Ben Johnston, Blair Macpherson.

Replacements:
16. George Hunter, 17. Jon Welsh, 18. Will Bordill, 19. David Armstrong, 20. Craig Gossman.

Heriot's:
15. Glenn Bryce, 14. Harry Boisseau, 13. Liam Steele, 12. Rory Carmichael, 11. Charlie Simpson; 10. Gregor McNeish, 9. Graham Wilson; 1. Nathan Borel, 2. Davy McGregor, 3. Struan Cessford; 4. Russell Nimmo, 5. Ben Toolis; 6. Jono Armstrong, 7. Jack Turley (capt), 8. Jason Hill.

Replacements:
16. Blair Couper, 17. Gavin Cameron, 18. Joe Naya, 19. Jack McLean, 20. Stuart Edwards.

Kick-off 3pm!