Monday, 5 October 2015

Huge amount raised at Ladies' Day

Saturday 26th September's Ladies' Day at Millbrae raised over £2500 for Connor's Journey.

Connor Hughes is a young man who was left a quadriplegic after injuring his spinal cord during a rugby match for Stirling University in 2014 and the funds raised will go towards his treatment and care.

The bi-annual event is organised by Ayr RFC committee member Eilidh Goodwin and this season's first lunch was held in a marquee at Millbrae with three hundred ladies attending.

So many individuals and local companies donated raffle prizes and must be thanked for their generosity.

The club thanks Eilidh and her assistants Sarah Sharkey, Gemma Swankie and Alison Craig for the huge effort they put into organising such a great event.

The next Ladies' Day will be held in February or March next year, but only 170 places will be available.  So please get in touch with Eilidh on 07879 671272 or to make sure you don't miss out.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Heriot's 25 Ayr 29

It was a mature performance from Ayr that saw them beat undefeated league leaders Heriot's at Goldenacre and top the BT Premiership.

The visitors gave away a few early penalties, one within range of the posts which Heriot's scrum-half Graham Wilson easily kicked.  3-0. 

Winger Haddon McPherson, fly-half Frazier Climo and flanker Blair Macpherson shifted play into Heriot's half long enough to get a chance at goal when the home team strayed off-side.  Climo missed the kick though.

Prop Steven Longwell went on the charge and captain Ross Curle made metres, but Ayr were later off their feet at a ruck.  Another penalty quickly followed and was kicked by Wilson.  6-0.

Moments later though and Heriot's were in danger and as they tried to clear their lines, winger Cameron Taylor charged down the kick and chased the ball over the line to ground it for the first try.  Climo converted.  6-7.

Ayr couldn't cope with Heriot's strength at the scrum, giving away a penalty that again saw them end up back in their own half.  A good line-out by Heriot's released speedy full-back Charles Simpson and he blasted his way to the line.  He couldn't make it through the Ayr defence at one side, and neither could second row Roan van Heerden, but his team stayed patient to send him over at the other side.  Wilson got the tricky conversion.  13-7.

Ayr were still making mistakes and showing moments of indecision, but the difference this week was the reaction.  When scrum-half Ali Price's kick was blocked, Longwell was on hand to scoop up the ball, which led to a brilliant break by Macpherson.  Price was on his shoulder and took the pass well to fly under the posts for the try.  Climo got the extras.  13-14.

There were further set-piece wobbles for Ayr, but handling errors by Heriot's meant they couldn't capitalise.  Ayr had a scrum in front of their own posts but were steady despite a huge shove by the hosts, and number eight Pete McCallum put his foot on the gas to charge forty metres.  Centre Danny McCluskey was in support and Curle chipped ahead.  Heriot's got there first but knocked on.

Heriot's were pinged for not releasing moments later and Climo booted over the penalty.  13-17.

Another break by McCallum and a beauty of a pass to McCluskey got Ayr back into Heriot's half but the ball went forward in the tackle.

Despite the overall high quality of play, the match was briefly afflicted by some horrible kicking from both teams before Ayr decided to keep ball in hand and barge their way up the pitch.  Longwell was tackled without the ball and some back-chat from Heriot's saw them marched back ten metres.

Ayr took the line-out but knocked on and were then penalised at the scrum.  A Heriot's line-out on Ayr's five-metre line let winger Harry Boisseau sneak over in the corner and Wilson again got the conversion from a devilish angle.  20-17.

The second half began with Richard Dalgleish replacing Climo and Graham Fisken and George Hunter on for Will Bordill and Javan Sebastian respectively, all of whom had put in a tough shift.

Heriot's captain Jack Turley made an exciting break and Simpson again scythed his way into Ayr's twenty-two.  Ayr turned over before Heriot's turned over and then knocked on, but they took the scrum against the head and attempted a drop goal which drifted wide.

Again, as the line-out went awry, Ayr didn't panic.  Errors from Heriot's helped their cause, but some strong running from McPherson, Longwell and hooker James Malcolm got them out of their own half.  They settled at the line-out, with second rows Scott Sutherland and Robert McAlpine anchoring their team as they so often do.  McCallum made for the line, looking for his sixth try in six matches, but couldn't quite make it.

Ayr pressed on after a scum and a line-out and it was Longwell who burrowed over.  Curle took over kicking duty and got the conversion.  20-24.

There was a breathless period of play that saw Ayr gain and lose possession several times.  Simpson slipped through tackles to get the crowd on their feet and passed to number eight Jason Hill who charged off.  But Price did well to track him down, haul him to the ground, grab the ball and chip and chase.  The ball bobbled out but Heriot's dropped it at the ensuing line-out and Macpherson pounced for the bonus-point try.  Curle missed the conversion.  20-29.

It got a bit messy as Ayr were desperate to build on their lead and Heriot's were determined to get more points on the board.  McPherson was wriggling out of tackles, Curle chasing down kicks and Macpherson doing forward rolls but they knocked on before they could get to the try-line.

Hill and flanker Struan Dewar showed great hands to get Heriot's going and a drive from a line-out let second row Russell Nimmo score a try.  Wilson couldn't get this conversion though.  25-29.

Ayr's restart wasn't ten metres but they coped at the scrum on half-way and turned over.  Heriot's regained possession but were pinged for holding on and this allowed Ayr to hunker down for a sustained period of pick-and-go.

The stutters at the set pieces returned for Ayr but again they remained calm.  Simpson shot off but Dalgleish appeared out of nowhere to drag him down and force a knock-on.

It was a tense final minute as Heriot's tried their best to turnover.  But Ayr stayed cool and collected under pressure and booted the ball off the park for a hard-fought win.

Ayr lead the BT Premiership by just a point, but with Heriot's and Boroughmuir having a game in hand and Melrose lying in second, it's going to be a battle for supremacy.

Final score: Heriot's 25 Ayr 29.

- Elena Hogarth.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Glasgow University v Ayr Ladies preview

After a Sunday off from competition last week, Ayr Ladies are back in action this weekend when they travel to Garscube to take on Glasgow University in the BT Women's National League Division 1.

The home team will be desperate for a win after three losses in a row, so the ladies in pink and black are going to have their hands full.  But a heartening win against Aberdeenshire Quines two weeks ago has boosted Ayr and now third in the league table, they will hope to challenge Broughton and Stewartry Sirens who precede them in the standings.

This season's squad is continually growing and the team that will turn out against Glasgow University on Sunday is an encouraging mix of youth and experience.

Ayr Ladies:
15. Sammie Morrison; 14. Connie Griffiths, 13. Lauren McBride, 12. Laura Turner, 11. Erin McSorley; 10. Catherine Shennan, 9. Emily Irving; 1. Michelle Nelson, 2. Lisa Croniken, 3. Louise McLauchlan; 4. Zoe Montgomerie, 5. Phoebe McDowall; 6. Rachael Mulholland, 7. Daryl Paterson, 8. Sarah Paterson.

16. Ashleigh Nelson, 17. Lynda Morgan, 18. Alice Allan, 19. Kelsey Swift, 20. Nattalie Rooney, 21. Shona McHarg.

Kick-off 2pm!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Heriot's v Ayr preview

Ayr travel to Edinburgh to take on Heriot's at Goldenacre in the BT Premiership on Saturday afternoon.

Heriot's have continued their excellent form from last season and, having started their current league campaign a week later than Ayr, come into this fixture with four wins in a row under their belt.  

Ayr's nine-try haul against Stirling County last week will have given the men in pink and black a huge boost but head coach Calum Forrester knows an even stronger performance from his side is crucial this week.

'We have played well in spells over the last couple of weeks but we will need to tighten up our defence against a dangerous Heriot's side that has the ability to score from anywhere.'

Ayr are bolstered by the return from suspension of full-back Grant Anderson, as well as Will Bordill's reinstatement in the back row after injury.  

Last week's hat-trick hero George Hunter steps off the positional merry-go-round and features on the bench in his usual place of prop.  Graham Fisken and Richard Dalgleish also rejoin a speedy-looking list of replacements.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Haddon McPherson, 13. Ross Curle (capt), 12. Danny McCluskey, 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. Alistair Price; 1. Steven Longwell, 2. James Malcolm, 3. Javan Sebastian; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum.

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. George Hunter, 18. Graham Fisken, 19. Archie Russell, 20. Richard Dalgleish.

Kick-off 3pm.  Follow the 1st XV scores live on Twitter and the 2nd XV scores via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Oval Ball & Hallowe'en Party

Two of our most popular social events are just weeks away, so make sure you don't miss out!

On Saturday 24th October, the Oval Ball in aid of the Ayr Community Rugby Trust takes place at Ayr Racecourse.  This black tie evening will feature Kevin McKenzie as guest speaker and tickets are £50.

Call Matthew Young on 01292 570237 to secure your ticket.

Our Hallowe'en Party will be held on Saturday 31st October, the same day as our BT Premiership match with Hawick and the Rugby World Cup final.

We always have a brilliant time at Hallowe'en at Millbrae and past parties have seen some imaginative costumes.  This year, we're asking party-goers to dress in the colours of whichever two teams make the RWC final.

With our live screening of Scotland v Samoa on Saturday 10th October, as well as all other RWC matches that are on during clubhouse opening hours (Tuesday to Sunday from 4pm), it's going to be a very busy month!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Changes to Six Nations tickets

If you have completed your form for Six Nations tickets, please return it to Millbrae by the start of October, as the SRU has requested club ticket allocation numbers be sent to them as soon as possible.

Ticket prices have also changed for the England and France games.  Tickets for England are now £90, £65 or £45, whilst France tickets are £80, £55 or £35.

If there are any problems, please get in touch with our administrator Gus McKay on 07710 483607.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Ayr 55 Stirling County 21

After some near misses in recent weeks, Ayr blew away the cobwebs on Saturday with a nine-try win against Stirling County in round five of the BT Premiership.

The visitors got off to a good start and coupled with Ayr straying offside, took the lead through the boot of stand-off Shaun Treweek.  0-3.

Treweek was good with ball in hand too and raced away to within centimetres of Ayr's line.  Captain Ross Curle was on hand to prevent the score but landed in the sin bin and Treweek got another three points.  0-6.

Ayr got into their groove thanks to a swerving run from stand-off Frazier Climo.  Prop Javan Sebastian was also quick on his feet and was the only chaser when scrum-half Ali Price chipped ahead.  County beat him to it, but number eight Pete McCallum and George Hunter, starting at blindside flanker after his foray into the second row last week, put in the hefty tackles.

Stirling's captain Struan Robertson was full of menace in the loose but his team received a ticking off for repeated infringements in Ayr's half.  The home team took the line-out and drove on only for the ball to come bobbling out of the maul.  It went backwards though, Climo scooped it up and fired it to Robbie Fergusson who went over for the first try.  The conversion attempt from Climo was wide.  5-6.

Price and wingers Haddon McPherson and Cameron Taylor were on the look-out for opportunities to get into County's half but it was Climo who found another gap and slipped through the defence to release McCallum, who squeezed in at the corner.  Climo converted.  12-6.

Stirling's powerful number eight Vaka Manu had a good first half and almost got on the score sheet with a strong run to the line but the Ayr defence was solid and they turned over and cleared.  

The visitors did add to their points tally when Ayr were off their feet at the ruck, Treweek kicking the penalty.  12-9.

Ayr's forwards had a busy afternoon, with some superb turnovers from prop Steven Longwell and a hand-off by openside flanker Blair Macpherson getting some oohs and aahs from the busy crowd on Ladies' Day at Millbrae.

Stirling were pinged for not rolling away, second row Robert McAlpine took the line-out and McPherson sped off for try number three.  It went unconverted.  17-9.

Climo more than made up for his missed conversions with his brilliant vision for gaps and the ability to slide through them.  His good work let Taylor loose and the winger flew over the line for the bonus point, leaving the now beleaguered County defence in his wake.  Climo got the extras this time.  24-9.

And he did it again moments later, jinking his way from his own half to let Hunter smash his way over for the fifth try.  Climo converted.  31-9.

There was more to come from prop-second-row-flanker Hunter.  County were feeling the pressure and giving away penalties.  An Ayr line-out saw a repeat performance from Hunter and Climo.  38-9.

Birthday boy Danny McCluskey was nearly over the line to mark his twenty-first but the ball was spilled.  Ayr exerted their dominance by taking the scrum against the head and Hunter got his hat-trick.  Climo's failed conversion brought the half to an end.  43-9.
The second half just couldn't compete with the first.  County had a bit more possession but couldn't do anything with it.

The home team were called up for some knock-ons too, one in particular upsetting the crowd.  Curle, largely quiet at full-back, looked to be off on one of his exciting runs and chipped on.  The Millbrae faithful were convinced it came off his knee but it was deemed a knock-on.

County were so close to scoring after a squint put-in at the scrum from Ayr but the ball went awry just at the line.  

Sebastian went on another charge and got Ayr into a great attacking position.  It was McCallum who crossed in the corner for his second try of the game and fifth in five matches.  Climo's conversion was short.  48-9.

Ayr emptied their bench and replacements Samuel Kenny, Lee Scott and Russell McKeown got stuck into the tackles as County searched for a try.  They didn't score it themselves but they did get the points as the referee awarded a penalty try and replacement hooker Lewis Anderson found himself in the sin bin for collapsing the maul.  Treweek converted.  48-16.

Ayr's second half siesta syndrome reared its ugly head again and their napping, plus a penalty against them for not rolling away, let County replacement Mark Hunter barrel over for an unconverted try.  48-21.

McCallum and Macpherson mopped up a sloppy Stirling line-out but their fancy footwork was all for nothing as Ayr were pinged for crossing.

The match was slowly stumbling to an end but there was one last burst of energy from both teams.  Stirling's efforts in Ayr's half were snuffed out as they were shoved off the park.  The fans were still waiting for that little bit of magic from Curle and it seemed that he'd saved his best till last.  Alas, what appeared to be him throwing a pass to himself was forward, according to the referee.

Ayr wanted to get beyond that fifty-point mark though and some strong running from McKeown, second row Scott Sutherland and replacement back Archie Russell moved them closer.  From an Ayr line-out, Longwell crashed over for the final try of the day, which Curle converted.  55-21.

Final score: Ayr 55 Stirling County 21.

- Elena Hogarth.

Photos by George McMillan.