Friday, 21 October 2016

Watsonians v Ayr preview

Ayr have their first of two back-to-back away games on Saturday as they travel to Edinburgh to play Watsonians at Myreside in the BT Premiership.

The men in pink and black climbed back to the top of the table after last week's win against Glasgow Hawks, but they will be on their guard against ambitious Watsonians, who had a great start to their league campaign and will be eager to perform well in front of their home fans after some disappointing results of late.

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester has his team ready for the visit east.

"Last week the pack put in a really dominant performance and we will be looking for them to back it up this week in what will be a tough trip to Myreside."

There are a few changes to the squad, with Danny McCluskey taking over from the injured Ross Curle at stand-off; Robbie Smith starts at hooker after impressing from the bench in his first senior season; and Ruaridh Mackenzie moves into the starting XV following his try-scoring debut last week.

George Hunter stays in the back row for the third week, and Glasgow Warriors' Canadian international prop Djustice Sears-Duru retains his place in the front row.

Club captain Pete McCallum is amongst the substitutes and will hopefully make his return to action after overcoming a knee injury.

15. Grant Anderson (c); 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Stafford McDowall, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Danny McCluskey, 9. David Armstrong; 1. Djustice Sears-Duru, 2. Robbie Smith, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. George Hunter, 7. Ruaridh Mackenzie, 8. Blair Macpherson.

16. David Young, 17. Craig Stevenson, 18. Pete McCallum, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Jamie Bova.

15. Keith Young; 14. Mark Bertram, 13. DJ Innes, 12. Tom Hart, 11. Max McFarland; 10. Andrew Chalmers, 9. Reiss Cullen; 1. Martin Christie (c), 2. Sean Crombie, 3. Callum Eastwood; 4. Matt Poole, 5. Craig Borthwick; 6. Diarmaid Dee, 7. Angus Duckett, 8. Euan Dods.

16. Neil Cochrane/Darren Miller, 17. Dave Kennan, 18. Viliami Fihaki, 19. Euan McKirdy, 20. Ali Harris.

Kick-off 3pm!

Follow the scores for the 1st and 2nd XVs' games live on Twitter and the Ultimate Rugby app respectively.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

RBS Six Nations ticket prices

If you're an Ayr RFC member, you should have received a form to apply, through the club, for tickets for the 2017 RBS Six Nations.

There are some changes to ticket prices for games at BT Murrayfield.

Scotland v Ireland
Saturday 4th February, 2.25pm.
Adult tickets only
Gold - £85, Silver - £62, Bronze - £40.

Scotland v Wales
Saturday 25th February, 2.25pm.
Adult tickets only
Gold - £85, Silver - £62, Bronze - £40.

Scotland v Italy
Saturday 18th March, 12.30pm.
Adult tickets
Gold - £75, Silver - £50, Bronze - £35.
U18 tickets
Gold - £40, Silver - £30, Bronze - £20.
Student tickets
No Gold available. Silver - £40, Bronze - £28.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Ayr 39 Glasgow Hawks 13

Ayr ran in six tries to beat Glasgow Hawks 39-13 in the BT Premiership at Millbrae on Saturday and climb back to the top of the table.

The visitors began with a penalty struck by stand-off George Horne. 0-3.

Hawks looked like they were going to get off to a flyer, with former Ayr player Kerr Gossman surely headed to the line had the ball not flown over his shoulder instead of into his hands.

Captain and number eight Tommy Spinks made an impressive break but he was taken care of by Ayr stand-off Ross Curle and centre Stafford McDowall.

After an Ayr scrum, Curle spotted a gap and chipped on for McDowall. But Junior Bulumakau, Hawks' other winger who also once wore a pink and black shirt, got to it first. His full-back, erstwhile Glasgow Warrior Peter Murchie, couldn't take his pass.

Curle evened up the scores with a penalty. 3-3.

Ayr second row Robert McAlpine headed to the clubhouse to get his face stitched up and was temporarily replaced by Craig Stevenson.

With two teams who know each other so well, a bit of scrapping is always expected, but thankfully it escalated to nothing more than some pushing and shoving.

Again, it was Hawks who were going for it in attack, with centres Bobby Beattie and Brendan McGroarty making inroads. A forward pass scuppered them though.

Possession went back and forth between the two teams before Djustice Sears-Duru, Glasgow Warriors' Canadian international prop on his first appearance for Ayr, showed excellent hands to get the ball to centre Archie Russell, who muscled his way through the defence.
Captain Grant Anderson, second row Scott Sutherland and Curle got Ayr right up into Hawks' twenty-two and scrum-half David Armstrong scrambled for the line. But he didn't make and his opposite number, another Glasgow Warrior, Grayson Hart, found himself in the sin bin.

McAlpine returned just as Ayr got locked into some scrummaging and came out on top, number eight Blair Macpherson picking up the ball at the back and dotting it down for a try. Curle was on kicking duty and got the conversion. 10-3.

The Old Anniesland side could have replied with a try of their own after a chip by Ayr's Anderson came to the hands of Bulumakau but the Scotland 7s cap knocked on.

Again, Ayr dominated the scrum, gained a penalty, took the line-out and rumbled to the line, prop-turned-flanker George Hunter claiming the try. The conversion angle was tight against the touchline, but Curle struck it perfectly. 17-3.

Another Ayr kick ended up in Hawks' hands, those of Murchie, but in taking the ball, his own momentum slid him right into touch.

Ayr's line-out was firing well but they later knocked on, handing possession to Hawks. But they ended up getting it back only to give it away again in a bizarre period of play that ended with Bulumakau almost getting a try.

The visitors got their score moments later when second row Andy Kirkland launched himself over the line in the corner. Horne's conversion went awry as Ayr winger Craig Gossman charged at him. 17-8.
Hawks started the second half at a canter, flanker Grant Stewart barging over for a try. It was another difficult conversion for Horne as this time Ayr winger Richard Dalgleish charged at him and he missed. 17-13.

There was then a major shift in the game when McGroarty was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle on Sutherland. Their misery was compounded when Bulumakau was yellow-carded minutes later.

They did incredibly well to hold Ayr with just thirteen men but it couldn't last. Hunter, prop Steven Longwell, Macpherson, Armstrong and Anderson - in between what seemed like twenty scrums in a row - headed for the line and it was Macpherson who eventually went over for the try. With Curle off with a leg strain (replaced by teenager Paddy Dewhirst on his 1st XV debut), Anderson stepped up to the kicking tee but missed the conversion. 22-13.

Anderson would get some points moments later. Hunter, Russell, Armstrong and Gossman scurried for the line before passing to the captain, who dodged the defenders to score. Dewhirst had a go at the conversion but couldn't get it. 27-13.
Hunter moved to prop with Longwell off and Ruaridh Mackenzie made his debut for Ayr in the back row.

A strong scrum from Ayr let Macpherson loose, and he released Armstrong. The scrum-half dummied and made a leaping pass to Gossman, with the winger making a run for it.

It came to nothing as Hawks got a penalty. Their kick for touch didn't go far enough and Armstrong gathered and cleared. Hawks attacked from the line-out, but Russell, hooker David Young, McAlpine and Mackenzie got stuck into some thumping tackles.

A scrum apiece and Ayr got their hands back on the ball, with almost everyone firing it this way and that. A line-out to Ayr after Hawks failed to roll away was messy but flanker Will Bordill tidied up and Mackenzie capped his debut by spotting a gap and sailing through for a try. Dewhirst converted. 34-13.

Ayr emptied the bench, with Stevenson back on for McAlpine, Robbie Smith for Young and Jamie Bova for Dalgleish.

Tempers flared once again but a stern talking-to from the referee calmed everyone down.

A scrum for Ayr let Gossman rush off, with Stevenson and Mackenzie in support. It was Macpherson who went over for the try, claiming a hat-trick. Dewhirst's conversion was short. 39-13.

It was the final play of the game. Ayr celebrated being back at the top of the table. But Hawks are still only three points behind and Melrose just two, so there is all to play for after eight rounds of fantastic rugby.
Final score: Ayr 39 Glasgow Hawks 13.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Blair Macpherson.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Ayr v Glasgow Hawks preview

The best in the west go head-to-head on Saturday at Millbrae as Ayr take on Glasgow Hawks in the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm.

Just two points separate leaders Hawks and third-placed Ayr, and both teams will be giving it their all in search of a win.

"Hawks have played some outstanding rugby so far this season and will come to Millbrae full of confidence," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester. "The players are looking forward to the challenge in what is set to be a cracking west coast derby."

In the squad, Archie Russell returns at centre to partner Stafford McDowall, whilst Ross Curle will be calling the shots at stand-off in place of the injured Frazier Climo.

Glasgow Warriors' Canadian international prop Djustice Sears-Duru makes his debut in a lively front row along with David Young and Steven Longwell, whilst George Hunter stays at blindside flanker.

Robert McAlpine returns from Pro12 duty with the Warriors to reform his formidable double act in the second row with Scott Sutherland.

There are possible 1st XV debuts from the bench for Inverness-born Ruaridh Mackenzie and Paddy Dewhirst, who scored 23 points and was man of the match for the 2nd XV in last week's 78-12 win against their Hamilton counterparts.

15. Grant Anderson (c); 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Stafford McDowall, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Ross Curle, 9. David Armstrong; 1. Djustice Sears-Duru, 2. David Young, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. George Hunter, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Blair Macpherson.

16. Robbie Smith, 17. Craig Stevenson, 18. Ruaridh Mackenzie, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Jamie Bova.

Glasgow Hawks
15. Peter Murchie; 14. Junior Bulumakau, 13. Bobby Beattie, 12. Brendan McGroarty, 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. George Horne, 9. Grayson Hart; 1. Steven Findlay, 2. Scott Rodgers, 3. Gary Strain; 4. Andy Linton, 5. Andy Kirkland; 6. Andy Redmayne, 7. Grant Stewart, 8. Tommy Spinks (c).

16. Paul Cairncross, 17. Brendan Cullinane, 18. Sam Thomson, 19. Jack Steele, 20. Davie Milne.

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

Ayr 2nd XV play Hawks 2nd XV at Millbrae, 3pm, and you can follow the match via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Ayr 46 Stirling County 22

Ayr got back to winning ways in the BT Premiership but they were made to fight every step of the way by Stirling County at a mild Millbrae on Saturday.

With the lion's share of possession early on, Ayr waited patiently until they could find their way through the County defence, George Hunter - a prop starting at flanker - getting over the line for a try. Frazier Climo's conversion attempt hit the post. 5-0.

Ayr were without second row Scott Sutherland for part of the first half as a cut to the face within minutes of kick-off left him being stitched up in the clubhouse. Craig Brown, a late addition to the squad, replaced him.

There was nearly another try for Ayr when flanker Will Bordill hacked on a loose ball and centre Ross Curle chased, but even though he touched it down, the score was disallowed. 

Prop Steven Longwell and centre Danny McCluskey were in the thick of the attack, moving the ball at pace. Scrum-half David Armstrong, stand-off Frazier Climo and Curle were quick with their hands too, tidying up a messy line-out. Ayr redeemed themselves by stealing County's.

Climo stretched Ayr's lead with a penalty after Stirling were caught offside. 8-0.

The visitors hit back with a scything run by centre Fraser Lyle, and winger Matt Lamb racing away for a try that full-back and captain Jonny Hope converted. 8-7.

They were off again moments later, stand-off Ross Jones strolling in for the score. Hope added the extras. 8-14.

Ayr began to get the upper hand at the scrums though, number eight Blair Macpherson getting his hands on the ball to let Armstrong, McCluskey, Climo, Hunter and second row Craig Stevenson to muscle their way to the line. It was winger Richard Dalgleish who used his strength to get through the defence and score. Climo couldn't convert. 13-14.

Ayr lost McCluskey to injury, Stafford McDowall replacing him.
A knock-on by Ayr gave Stirling a scrum in their own twenty-two but a huge shove by the pink and black pack allowed Macpherson to simply pick up the ball and score. Climo converted before half-time. 20-14.

Ayr started the second half at lightning speed, Curle and wing Craig Gossman dancing up the touchline. Captain Grant Anderson scored. Climo's conversion hit the post again. 25-14.

Hope had a kick at goal but to no avail before another shot was successful. 25-17.

They gave away a penalty themselves shortly after and Ayr took the line-out. Prop D'arcy Rae spotted a gap and fended off tacklers to score under the crossbar. Climo converted. 32-17.

Jamie Bova replaced Dalgleish on the wing as County were starting their fight back but a huge tackle from McDowall dislodged the ball from a Stirling hand. Bova took it to Curle before Gossman scurried round the defence to get it to Anderson who slapped the ball over his head for Bova to take it on again. Unfortunately, he was bundled into touch.

The home team lost another player to injury, with Bordill limping off to be replaced Gregor Henry.

Gossman followed McDowall's lead and his thump on a Stirling attacker forced a knock-on. Bova and Curle launched themselves at the scrambling visiting defence until Armstrong cleared.

Stirling might have been spooked by Ayr's poaching prowess at the line-out as they twice took the quick option in a matter of minutes.
They made for the line with determination but a couple of handling errors denied them any points.

Ayr quickly moved the action out of their own half and drove for the try-line only to be held up. Two more scrums and Anderson got over for the score. Climo had been helped from the field minutes before with a leg injury, so Curle stepped up to the tee and converted. 39-17.

Gossman, Anderson, McDowall, Curle and Dalgleish (back on) sprang for the line but so keen were Ayr to get to there, they were almost tripping over each other. The ball got to Bova and he raced away for a try, which Curle converted. 46-17.

Stirling weren't out of it yet, their backs on the scent of a score. Indiscipline by Ayr reversed a penalty, and County secured the line-out. Wing Craig Pringle put his foot down and got the try after side-to-side play. Hope couldn't convert in the last act of the match. 46-22.

Ayr retained the Cairdeas Quaich, which the two clubs play for to mark the friendship between them.
Final score: Ayr 46 Stirling County 22.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Blair Macpherson.

- Elena Hogarth

Photos copyright George McMillan.

Ayr Ladies 12 Hillhead/Jordanhill 79

Ayr Ladies put in a performance to be proud of at Millbrae on Friday night as they went head-to-head with one of Scotland's best teams and gave the big crowd something to shout about.

Hillhead/Jordanhill has a long and proud history of producing international players and reaching more cup finals than you can shake a stick at. When the team last visited Millbrae to take on Ayr in the Sarah Beaney Cup semi-finals earlier this year, they showed just why they're so revered. This time, however, they didn't get things all their own way.

The power, pace and skill of the visitors were on show right from the off, and they opened the scores with a converted try early on. 0-7.

The ladies in pink and black knew they would have to get stuck into tackles and get stuck in they did, stand-off Catherine Shennan, winger Connie Griffiths and centres Catriona Cowan and Julie David leading the way.

The scrum took a battering at times, but the front row of captain Laura Turner, Lauren Gunn and Louise McLauchlan, shored up later by replacements Lisa Croniken and Michelle Nelson, did well under immense pressure.

Number eight Lynda Morgan managed to pick up from the back and make a break, with full-back Claire Law, Gunn, Turner, Shennan and scrum-half Emily Irving in support.

Flanker Kelsey Swift was not only looking for gaps in attack but tackling her heart out in defence, the diminutive back rower dragging down players twice her size.

Along with second rows Joanne Jones and Phoebe McDowall, she got Ayr into an attacking position in Hills' twenty-two and when the ladies from Hughenden strayed off-side, Law sprang into action, scurrying round the defence and over in the corner for a try. Shennan couldn't get the touchline conversion. 5-7.

The visitors replied with three converted tries in a row, their powerful forwards smothering Ayr and their lively backs finishing up. 5-28.

Ayr knew to expect fireworks from Hills, and instead of standing back and gazing at the show, they got their heads down and worked hard.

Swift and Gunn, voted the players of the match by Ayr and Hills respectively, were tireless in defence. Griffiths attacked well along with flanker Rachel Morrison when they wrestled possession away from the visitors.

It looked like another score was imminent as Hills pressed relentlessly towards Ayr's line. But some sterling work by the Millbrae women saw them turn the hot shots over and Morrison flew through their defence, running this way and that until she was into their half, fending off tacklers and lobbing the ball brilliantly over their heads to reach her backs.

Hills were pinged for a high tackle, but although Ayr could scent the try, they gave away a penalty themselves and Hills were off like a runaway train for yet another converted try. 5-35.

A solid scrum from the home team unleashed Griffiths, Shennan and Cowan, whose fantastic pass found the hands of David, who blasted her way through the defenders for a stunning try that Shennan easily converted. 12-35.

Hills swarmed all over Ayr, and even though Turner, McLauchlan and Croniken were firing the ball at speed, they were turned over. Big tackles from Cowan and winger Ann-Marie Connelly couldn't stop the juggernaut. The final try before half-time was unconverted. 12-40.

An unconverted try for Hills got the second half off to a start, quickly followed by another. 12-50.

The scrum was under pressure, but Irving did well to retrieve the ball and get it away to Shennan. However, they were beginning to get bullied and the turnovers kept coming.

Ayr had a great one of their own though, replacement Rachael Mulholland working hard at the breakdown.

But Hills couldn't be halted, and they claimed two further unconverted tries. 12-60.

It wasn't quite the pasting the scoreline suggests. Ayr camped out in Hills' twenty-two for several periods. the line-out held firm and despite the exhausting tackles, they didn't tire.

Even when three more Hills tries were scored - two converted - Ayr Ladies looked anything but despondent.

Morrison, Shennan, David and replacements Lisa Main and Kirsty Wilson were excellent with ball in hand, Morrison having the vision to chip over the top of the marauding Hills defence and chase. They couldn't get another score, alas.

When the final whistle came, both sets of players and their supporters showed their appreciation for a terrific game of rugby. They're just a few matches into their first season in the BT Premier League, but Ayr Ladies are growing in confidence with every performance.

Final score: Ayr Ladies 12 Hillhead/Jordanhill 79.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Ayr v Stirling County

It's back to the home comforts of Millbrae for Ayr on Saturday as they welcome Stirling County in round seven of the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm.

They have put last week's loss to Boroughmuir behind them and set their minds on retaining the Cairdeas Quaich, which the two clubs have played for over the course of the last two years.

"Last week was hugely disappointing," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester, "but the players have reviewed the game and are looking forward to getting back into action against Stirling."

It's a slightly reshuffled squad, as Ross Curle returns at centre to partner Danny McCluskey, and Richard Dalgliesh starts on the wing.

D'arcy Rae has been released by Glasgow Warriors and makes up the front row with Steven Longwell and David Young, with prop George Hunter having a foray at flanker for the day.

New addition to the squad Ruaridh Mackenzie will possibly make his debut from the bench.

Robert McAlpine starts for Glasgow Warriors in their Guinness Pro12 match away to Zebre.

It's Oktoberfest on Saturday at Millbrae, with Bavarian-style guest beers from West and Drygate breweries in Glasgow, food, and live music in the clubhouse after 7pm.

15. Grant Anderson (c); 14. Richard Dalgliesh, 13. Danny McCluskey, 12. Ross Curle, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. Steven Longwell, 2. David Young, 3. D'arcy Rae; 4. Craig Stevenson, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. George Hunter, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Blair Macpherson.

16. Robbie Smith, 17. Ruaridh Mackenzie, 18. Gregor Henry, 19. Jamie Bova, 20. Stafford McDowall.

Stirling County
15. Jonny Hope (c); 14. Craig Pringle, 13. Jake Cresswell, 12. Fraser Lyle, 11. Bruce Sorbie; 10. Ross Jones, 9. Nemia Kenatale; 1. Colin Hutton, 2. Reyner Kennedy, 3. Adam Nicol; 4. Hamilton Burr, 5. Ruairidh Leishman; 6. Matt Emmison, 7. Shaun MacDonald, 8. Struan Robertson.

16. Mark Hunter, 17. TBC, 18. Harry Henderson, 19. Matt Donaldson, 20. Ryan Elliston.

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

Ayr-Wellington U18s v Stirling County U18s is at 2pm at Millbrae. Ayr 2nd XV v Hamilton 2nd XV kicks off at 3.30pm at Millbrae, and can be followed via the Ultimate Rugby app.