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, Armstrong 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.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Melrose 27 Ayr 10

The final game of 2016 brought disappointment for Ayr and their travelling fans as Melrose came out on top at the Greenyards to tighten their grip on the BT Premiership.

There were some early jitters for the home team, that confident, superior facade slipping slightly as they missed an early kick for touch after a penalty and later knocked on in the tackle.

Ayr were solid in the scrum, the front row of George Hunter, Pat MacArthur and Adam Prentice holding their own. From that first set-piece, Ayr flew off into attack, scrum-half David Armstrong dummying nicely before releasing Richard Dalgleish. The rangy winger couldn't escape the black and yellow defence.

Ayr flanker Will Bordill was shown a yellow card for a late tackle on Melrose's flashy stand-off Craig Jackson, but the home team couldn't capitalise on their man-advantage. Armstrong and captain Pete McCallum led Ayr's heroic defensive effort as Melrose pressed for the try-line, and they ended up knocking on.

Melrose's line-out was wobbling slightly but they managed to hunker down at the scrum and put Ayr under pressure with centre Danny McCluskey taking Bordill's place in the back row. But they couldn't shove Ayr right off the ball and Armstrong cleared.

Twice in succession Ayr second row Blair Macpherson turned over the home team, his second effort letting full-back Grant Anderson loose, with Hunter, stand-off Ross Curle, second row Robert McAlpine and Glasgow Warriors' flanker Adam Ashe - on his long-awaited return from injury - in support.

Curle put Ayr into the lead with a successful penalty. 0-3.

Jackson replied. 3-3.

Ayr had another attacking opportunity, but Melrose were just beginning to amp up the aggression and turned over. Full-back Fraser Thomson thought he was away but MacArthur had him pinned.

Ayr were working hard to get out of their own half and threaten Melrose, McCallum, McCluskey, McAlpine and Archie Russell trying to break through that tough Borders defence, but they just couldn't.

A quick tap-and-go launched Melrose's Austin Lockington up the wing and he was unstoppable. Jackson nailed the conversion. 10-3.

Ayr turned Melrose over, with Armstrong quickly firing the ball across the field for Hunter, MacArthur, Curle and Russell to try and breach the defence but there was a lengthy stoppage while Melrose's flanker Neil Irvine Hess was attended to by both medical teams. He was eventually stretchered off the field to warm applause from the fans, and we wish him a speedy recovery from his injury.

Curle lined up a penalty but it was unsuccessful.

Ayr showed their might at the scrum again, but Melrose still had plenty of attacking opportunities as the first half drew to a close. Lockington and prop Jamie Bhatti were marauding around but Ashe and Armstrong halted them.

Melrose gave away a penalty and Ayr took the line-out and drove. Armstrong, McCluskey, Hunter and Curle all went for the line, with MacArthur, Bordill and Russell going for it too, but Melrose turned over and cleared.

Jackson extended Melrose's lead just after the resumption. 13-3.

They were all over Ayr like a rash. McCluskey and winger Cameron Taylor hit some brilliant lines but Melrose smothered them.

The home team found themselves offside, and the resulting line-out allowed Armstrong and Taylor to make for the whitewash before Melrose blotted their copybook with another infringement.

Ayr's line-out worked well all afternoon and it gave them another attacking opportunity but Melrose's defence was immense. Ayr stayed calm, replacement James Malcolm grabbing a shaky pass to get the ball to Curle and Russell, who flew into the Melrose tacklers.

Hunter, Taylor, Macpherson and McCallum stayed strong in the face of the defensive barrage and it was the captain who eventually fought his way through for the try, Curle converting. 13-10.

Ayr showed real intent in their pursuit of a second try, McCluskey catapulting himself into attack, and Armstrong later flying on to a pass from Hunter at the line-out to try and get Curle and McCallum to the try-line.

But it wasn't enough against the tight, controlled Melrose. They were up and away into Ayr's half in no time. The men in pink and black regained possession, but they conceded a penalty for holding on.

Melrose took the line-out and were headed for another score when Bordill was yellow-carded for a second time for a professional foul. Two yellows make a red and Ayr's misery was compounded when Melrose hooker Russell Anderson got the try, which man-of-the-match Jackson converted. 20-10.

Down to fourteen men for the rest of the game, Ayr went on the attack, Armstrong, Malcolm and replacements Jamie Bova and Djustice Sears-Duru pushing on into Melrose's twenty-two. The ball was chipped for McCluskey to chase but it bobbled away from him.

Melrose, cheered on by their polite fans, could sniff the victory and bossed their way back into Ayr's half. The visitors went to thirteen men when Curle was sin-binned for a no-arms tackle, and only a meteorite landing on the Greenyards could have prevented Ruairi McLeod from scoring. Jackson completed his slick, showy performance by summarily converting. 27-10.

Time was up. Melrose celebrated their continued league supremacy and Ayr rued missed opportunities. The BT Premiership returns on Saturday 14th January, when Ayr welcome Boroughmuir to Millbrae.

Final score: Melrose 27 Ayr 10.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Melrose v Ayr preview

It's the last match of 2016 and it couldn't be a better one as Ayr travel to the Greenyards to play BT Premiership leaders Melrose, kicking off at 2pm.

Scotland's two best teams will go head-to-head at the historic ground, and with Melrose just one point above Ayr in the table, there's all to play for as the calendar year comes to a close.

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester predicts a 'physical encounter'.

'The game at Millbrae earlier this season was a close affair and we expect the same again.'

Forrester was pleased with his troops' fighting spirit last week when they rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat Hawick.

'The players showed real character to come away with the victory. We know that we cannot afford to find ourselves in a similar situation this Saturday against a dangerous Melrose side.'

There are some changes in the squad due to injuries, with Ross Curle moving from centre to stand-off to link up with David Armstrong. Danny McCluskey takes Curle's usual berth, with Richard Dalgleish and Cameron Taylor starting on the wings.

In the forwards, Glasgow Warriors' Adam Ashe makes his Ayr debut and his much-awaited return from injury, with his fellow Scotstoun man Pat MacArthur making up a dynamic front row with props George Hunter and Adam Prentice.

Robert McAlpine and Will Bordill both make welcome comebacks from injury.

James Malcolm and Djustice Sears-Duru have been released again by the Warriors and add to a powerful bench with youngsters Lewis Anderson and Stafford McDowall and the fleet-of-foot Jamie Bova.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Danny McCluskey, 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. Ross Curle, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Pat MacArthur, 3. Adam Prentice; 4. Blair Macpherson, 5. Robert McAlpine; 6. Adam Ashe, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

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

Kick-off 2pm for both the 1st and 2nd XV games. Follow the 1sts' live on Twitter and the 2nds' via the Ultimate Rugby app.