Thursday, 18 September 2014

Stirling County v Ayr preview

Ayr head to Bridgehaugh to take on Stirling County as both teams jostle for points and position in the already fiercely contested BT Premiership.  They will also be competing for the Cairdeas Quaich, courtesy of United Auctions, County's main sponsor and a long-time supporter of Scottish club rugby.

Still smarting after last week's defeat to Hawick, Ayr will be looking to raise their game.

"It was very disappointing to lose at home last week and we know that we cannot afford to make the same errors against Stirling," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester.

The hosts will also be more than keen to get a win after their heavy loss to Heriot's, and Forrester is all too aware of the threat they pose at home.

"Bridgehaugh has always been a difficult place for Ayr to go and we expect the same again this weekend as both teams look to get back to winning ways."

With injuries piling up, there are yet more changes to the squad.  Rob McAlpine and Callum Templeton both left the field hurt last Saturday and are replaced in the starting line-up by Andrew Dunlop and Graham Fisken respectively.  Richard Dalgleish makes a welcome return to the first XV at outside centre.

The bench has been rearranged too, with James Malcolm and George Hunter resuming their places amongst the replacements and Ben Johnston making his debut in the match-day twenty.


Ayr:

15. Grant Anderson, 14. Cammy Taylor, 13. Richard Dalgleish, 12. Dean Kelbrick (capt), 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. Danny McCluskey, 9. David Armstrong; 1. Nick Cox, 2. Stuart Fenwick, 3. Fraser Watt; 4. Andrew Dunlop, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Graham Fisken, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Blair Macpherson.

Replacements:

16. James Malcolm, 17. George Hunter, 18. David Young, 19. Ben Johnston, 20. Sylvain Diez.

Kick-off 3pm.

Calum Forrester to help coach Glasgow Warriors 'A'

Calum Forrester will assist former Ayr head coach Kenny Murray as Glasgow Warriors 'A' team prepare to face their Edinburgh counterparts at Bridgehaugh on Monday.

The team will be a mixture of players returning from injury, EDPs and players from the Warriors' drafted clubs of Ayr, Glasgow Hawks, Stirling County and Currie.

The match kicks off at 5pm at Stirling County's ground and entry is free. 

Read the full story here.

Ayr Ladies duck race a success

If it wasn't a great day on the pitch on Saturday, Ayr Ladies certainly made it a fun afternoon elsewhere as they hosted their first annual duck race to raise funds for the women's section at the club, and tempted Scotland international and British and Irish Lion Sean Maitland to get involved.


The Ladies were on hand at Millbrae all afternoon to sell home baking before clambering into the river to set the ducks free.  The winners were John Dunlop, Robert White and Robert Fergusson.

You can watch a short video of the day here.





Wednesday, 17 September 2014

New silverware up for grabs on Saturday

When Ayr and Stirling County take to the field at Bridgehaugh on Saturday, there will be more than points and league position at stake as they compete for the Càirdeas Quaich for the first time.

 
The Quaich has been provided by United Auctions, the new main sponsor of Stirling County and celebrates the fierce on-field rivalry between County and Ayr, which is reflected in its name - càirdeas means 'friendly relation' Gaelic.
 
Neil McLean, Group Joint Managing Director of UA, said: “With our strong links to both Stirling and Ayr rugby clubs, we wanted to mark the positive nature of sporting competition in a special way and the Càirdeas Quaich fits the bill perfectly.”

Kevin Robertson, President of Stirling County said: “The generous introduction by UA of this new Càirdeas Quaich is an added incentive for the players of both teams to secure a victory on Saturday. Ayr and County are old friends and rivals, and matches between our two clubs are always keenly contested.  With both teams challenging in an increasingly competitive BT Premiership, I am sure Saturday’s encounter will live up to all expectations.”

Billy McHarg, Ayr RFC President, said: “We’re really grateful for the continuing support from UA and welcome this new trophy to be contested at each league game between Ayr and Stirling County.  It’s a positive move to promote both clubs in working closer together and a great way to demonstrate just how much the farming community supports Scottish club rugby.”





Sunday, 14 September 2014

Ayr 26 Hawick 27

There was a thrilling finish to Ayr's up-and-down match against a buoyant Hawick at a sunny and warm Millbrae, but the men in pink and black were beaten by the clock as well as the tough Borderers.

The day's proceedings began with both the first and second XVs lined up to join the crowd in applauding the life of Ayr RFC stalwart Ian 'Yogi' Hay, who recently passed away.

The match then got off to a rather shaky start as Ayr's kick-off failed to go beyond ten metres.  Hawick had some trouble with their line-out and in the process of trying to poach the ball, Ayr second row Rob McAlpine landed awkwardly and had to be helped from the field.

It looked like Ayr would be first on the scoreboard after the ball was swiftly moved into the hands of winger Kerr Gossman, but his chip ahead went too far and he almost launched himself into the hedge at the end of the pitch trying to chase it.

Hawick's line-out troubles continued as Ayr managed to steal the ball twice in quick succession.  Number eight Blair Macpherson and McAlpine's replacement Andrew Dunlop were on the charge, tidying up loose ball and blasting their way through tackles.

It was getting a bit ragged and breathless and it was Hawick who looked like they couldn't cope, knocking on and falling foul of the referee at the scrum.  But flanker Rory Scott stayed calm and galloped off before being halt by a thumping double tackle from Ayr prop Nick Cox and Macpherson.

The first ten minutes seemed to last for ever with neither team getting anywhere.  It was Ayr who slipped up and gave a penalty away in a kickable position, which outside centre Lee Armstrong booted between the uprights.  0-3.

Back and forth the possession went until Hawick collected a kick and lobbed a very casual pass in their own half only for Ayr's Cammy Taylor to fly on to it and race away for a try at fourteen minutes.  Canadian centre Connor Braid's conversion attempt was very high but unsuccessful.  5-3.

Hawick gave themselves a shake after that and lively flanker Garry Lowrie and nippy scrum-half Greg Cottrell were soon appearing all over the place.  It was another penalty against Ayr that gave them the chance at more points, but Armstrong missed the kick.

The visitors pressed on and despite the best defensive efforts of Gossman and flankers Callum Templeton and Will Bordill, stand-off Rory Hutton dived over for a try at twenty-one minutes.  Armstrong converted.  5-10.

Hawick's tails were up and Ayr struggled to contain Lowrie, second row Michael McKee and winger Scott McLeod.  The home side had their chances but things weren't clicking and with Hawick having sorted out their line-out, Hutton again found himself crossing for a try at thirty-one minutes.  Armstrong missed the conversion.  5-15.

Two minutes later and Ayr had a penalty, but Braid couldn't manage it. 

It looked like Ayr were making a bit of progress, even if Dunlop was having to tidy up a messy line-out, but an errant pass was shot on to by Hawick centre Joaquin Domingues and nobody could stop him sprinting under the posts.  Armstrong converted.  5-22.

The scoreline had almost silenced the crowd but the players didn't look panicked.  Second row Scott Sutherland was the proverbial tower of strength at the line-out and he and Cox led the drives but again they got nowhere.

Hawick perhaps got a bit over-excited with half-time looming and hirsute number eight Bruce McNeil made himself as popular as a wasp at a picnic with his abrasive antics and colourful language.  After the referee had had a good chat to his assistant, McNeil found himself sent to the sin bin to cool down.

The second half began slowly for Ayr, despite Braid and prop Fraser Watt trying to get things moving.  Scrum-half Murray McConnell, centre Dean Kelbrick and Macpherson tried to take advantage of Hawick's errors but it wasn't until the visitors repeatedly infringed at the scrum that Ayr were awarded a penalty try at fifty minutes.  Braid got the conversion.  12-22.

Hawick had their eye on stretching their lead and it was Hutton again who propelled his team on with some jinky runs.  It was Armstrong, though, who caught a neat cross-kick and dotted down for a try in the corner.  The angle was too wide for him to convert.  12- 27.

Ayr were making a solid effort but the tryline remained illusive.  Macpherson, Anderson and Templeton pushed play into Hawick's half but the good work was undone when they were penalised for holding on. 

Replacement scrum-half David Armstrong was in about everything and some great interplay between Gossman, Kelbrick and Anderson woke the crowd up, but Hawick weren't letting Ayr make much progress.

An attempt to bundle replacement Stuart Fenwick over the line was deemed illegal by the referee and another go a few minutes later was snuffed out entirely by excellent Hawick defence.

The notoriously temperamental Millbrae clock was accurate for once and time was running out.  Ayr stayed calm and, roared on by their faithful fans, they won their line-out, fired the ball through the hands of the backs until it found Gossman and he skipped over for a much-needed try.  Braid was quick about converting.  19-27.

Was a great escape possible?  Ayr and their fans always believe, and it seemed that Hawick were doubting themselves.  They sent the restart straight out.  They then gathered up a loose Ayr pass only to knock-on.

With a minute left, Anderson shot off, muscling his way through the defence to allow Bordill to score his first try in the pink and black shirt and send the crowd into raptures.  Braid drop-kicked the conversion.  26-27.

Everyone raced back for the restart but it was too late as a final infringement from Ayr led to the referee blowing the whistle for full-time to give Hawick a well-earned away victory and let them take the Bill McLaren Shield back to Mansfield Park.

Final score: Ayr 26 Hawick 27.


- Elena Hogarth.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Dean Kelbrick in today's Scotsman

Ayr captain Dean Kelbrick talks to Gary Heatly in the sports section of today's Scotsman.  Dean discusses the good start to the season and working with the new coaching team at Millbrae.

Read the full article here.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Ayr v Hawick preview

Ayr welcome Hawick to Millbrae tomorrow in the third BT Premiership fixture of the season.  After two narrow wins for Ayr and two equally narrow defeats for Hawick, both sides will be looking to stretch their legs and get some points on the scoreboard.

It's also the first defence of the season of the Bill McLaren Shield for Ayr.

"It is great for us to be returning to Millbrae following our victory at Hawks last weekend with the Shield and this weekend's visitors make our defence of the trophy all the more special," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester.  "We expect another tough encounter this Saturday."

Although the forwards have a fairly settled look to them, there are some changes in the backs due to injuries sustained by Craig Gossman, Ross Curle and Gavin Lowe.  However, it gives recent Glasgow Warriors signing Connor Braid a run-out in the pink and black.  The twenty-four-year-old Canadian has twelve fifteen-a-side caps for his country, as well as having represented them at the Commonwealth Games sevens tournament in Glasgow in July.

Braid's fellow Warrior Murray McConnell starts at scrum-half with Danny McCluskey moving to stand-off to make way for Braid at outside centre.

On the bench, there's a mix of youth and experience as Stuart Fenwick, Andrew Dunlop and Sylvain Diez take their places alongside Fergus Scott and David Armstrong.  Glasgow Warriors EDP James Malcolm makes his first start at hooker.


Ayr:

15. Grant Anderson, 14. Cammy Taylor, 13. Connor Braid, 12. Dean Kelbrick (capt), 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. Danny McCluskey, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. Nick Cox, 2. James Malcolm, 3. Fraser Watt; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Callum Templeton, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Blair Macpherson.

Replacements:
16. Fergus Scott, 17. Stuart Fenwick, 18. Andrew Dunlop, 19. David Armstrong, 20. Sylvain Diez.


Hawick:

15. Scott Peffers, 14. Nikki Walker, 13. Joaquin Domingues, 12. Lee Armstrong, 11. Scott McLeod; 10. Rory Hutton, 9. Greg Cottrell; 1. Shawn Muir, 2. Ross Graham, 3. Mathew Landels; 4. Michael McKee, 5. Finlay Simpson; 6. Garry Lowrie, 7. Rory Scott, 8. Bruce McNeil.

Replacements:
16. Lindsey Gibson, 17. Nicholas McLennan, 18. Stuart Graham, 19. Keith Davies, 20. Sean Goodfellow.


Kick-off 3pm!