Wednesday, 29 February 2012

McConnell in Warriors' squad for trip to Ospreys

Ayr's scrum-half Murray McConnell has been named among the substitutes for Glasgow Warriors' RaboDirect Pro12 game against Ospreys on Friday evening.  After making a significant impact off the bench for Scotland Under 20s last weekend, McConnell will hope to do the same as Glasgow look for an away win against Wales' top pro side.  He is joined in the replacements by former Ayr players Pat McArthur and Gordon Reid.  Read the full story at the Warriors' websiteEH

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Ayr beat Dumfries to make West Regional Cup final

Ayr beat Dumfries 31-6 in the delayed semi-final of the RBS West Regional Cup.  John Willis, Pa Thompson, Cammy Taylor and Andy Wilson scored tries, with Wilson adding the conversions.  Tom Hiddleston (not Loki from Thor, unfortunately) kicked Dumfries's points.  Ayr will take on Whitecraigs in the final on Saturday 10th March, after their draw with Hawks saw them progress on their try count.  For a round-up of this weekend's club games, visit The ScotsmanEH

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Ayr stars shine in Scotland club victory

Ayr RFC welcomed Scotland fans to a packed Millbrae last night for the first club international of the season.  Scotland took on their French counterparts on a mild, dry night under the new floodlights, and gave the crowd an exciting match, with some familiar faces making an impact.

With the Ayr pipe band playing the anthems, several French fans and even Murrayfield's usual announcer keeping the crowd informed, there was a great atmosphere.  Scotland and France traded penalties early on, but by the tenth minute, France nosed ahead with another kick at goal.  The score stayed at 3-6 until the twenty-sixth minute, when Melrose's Fraser Thomson crossed for the first try of the match.  The tricky conversion was missed by Gala's Lee Millar, but Scotland still led 8-6.

France replied swiftly, with fly-half Julien Lavie motoring in under the posts.  Winger Bertrand Artero duly converted, to make the score 8-13.  France then found themselves down to thirteen men before half-time, as disciplinary issues saw Italian referee Matteo Liperini reach for the yellow card twice.

Ayr players in the Scotland team all made significant contributions during the first half, with Rob Colhoun appearing all over the pitch, Ross Curle making some incisive runs and Scott Sutherland ever-present in forward play.

The second half saw Scotland take to the pitch with renewed purpose, with captain Sean Crombie of Boroughmuir burrowing over the try-line.  Millar's conversion took the score to 15-13.  Showing no signs of easing up, Scotland applied more pressure and Curle delighted the Ayr supporters and home crowd by collecting Thomson's chip kick and scoring a superb try.  Millar again converted, and Scotland moved ahead 22-13.

Sutherland and Colhoun continued to work hard, with the former producing a much-needed turn-over as the French tried to make their way to the Scotland line.  Colhoun's determined and effective tackling not only bolstered Scotland's defence but earned him the RBS Man of the Match award.

But it wasn't over quite yet.  Millar slotted another penalty to bring the score to 25-13.  France forced their way back into the match with a try from Alban Viozelange.  Robin Janisson's missed conversion made the final score 25-18.

The Scotland Under-20s team couldn't join the club side with a win over France, as they were beaten 21-30.  Sam Hidlago-Clyne and Adam Sinclair both scored tries, with Harry Leonard and Finn Russell landing the kicks.  Ayr's Robbie Fergusson started at outside centre, with Murray McConnell coming off the bench to great effect.  EH

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Ayr stars in action for Scotland on Friday

Millbrae hosts the Club International between Scotland and France on Friday evening (kick-off 7.30pm, FREE ENTRY), and there will be three Ayr players lining up to face the French.  Ross Curle starts at outside centre, with Scott Sutherland and Rob Colhoun bolstering the forwards at lock and openside flanker respectively.  Read the full story at Scottish Rugby.

Robbie Fergusson starts again for the Scotland Under-20s team, with fellow Ayr rising star Murray McConnell on the bench for their match against France Under-20s.  The match kicks off at 7.30pm on Friday at Netherdale.  Read the full story at Scottish Rugby.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Ayr welcome two new faces to Millbrae

Ayr’s newest players made their Millbrae debuts in the win over Dundee at the weekend.  Zimbabwean Denford Mutamangira started, while fellow prop Ehipa Thompson of New Zealand came off the bench in the latter stages of the match.
            Mutamangira has twelve caps for his country, and always wanted to play rugby in the UK.  Prior to joining the club, he had followed Ayr’s achievements online and thoroughly enjoyed playing his first match at Millbrae.  Of the rapturous applause he got from the home crowd on Saturday, he said: “I loved it!  The reception from the fans was awesome.”
            Thompson was keen to keep playing during the New Zealand off-season and, eager to see the world, headed for Ayrshire.  When asked how he found his debut game in Scotland, he laughed: “Cold.”  It’s currently 22C in his home city of Wellington. 
            If Mutamangira endeared himself to the crowd with his rambunctious loose play, then Thompson bemused the fans by appearing in the clubhouse post-match, sporting a fetching silver evening gown and blonde wig.  I’m assured it was a good-natured initiation and not his everyday get-up.  Well, Ayr is an equal opportunities club, so cross-dressing or not, we’re very happy to have Thompson and Mutamangira at Millbrae.  EH.

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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Ayr Dundee Match Report

Ayr 24 Dundee High 13
Ayr were back on home turf and back on form yesterday as they ran three tries past a well-organised and fast-paced Dundee High. 
            After a blast of hail and some heavy showers in the morning, Millbrae was soggy underfoot.  Although the home team coped better with the conditions, it was Dundee who got off to a good start with a kick at goal in the first five minutes. Fly-half Cam Brown was successful with the penalty, opening the scores at 0-3.
            Ayr struck back three minutes later, with a determined drive for Dundee’s line.  Flanker John Willis burrowed over, and with Andy Wilson’s conversion, Ayr led 7-3.  This spurred on the men in pink and black, and they launched into a series of ferocious tackles, forcing errors from Dundee.
            The slippery conditions caused problems for both sides, with several knocks-on marring proceedings.  However, Dundee upped their game and their handling skills, moving the ball swiftly for winger Ross Lemon to cross the try line in the twentieth minute.  Brown converted to put Dundee into the lead at 7-10.
            Undaunted, Ayr continued to challenge the visitors, with some great runs in particular from new boy Denford Mutamangira, who endeared himself to the home crowd.  Hard work from flankers Willis and Robbie Colhoun brought turn-overs, and at thirty minutes, second row Colin White gave Ayr their second try.  Another excellent conversion from Wilson saw the home team re-take the lead, 14-10.
            Although the set pieces were messy due to the mire, Ayr managed to steal several Dundee line-outs.  However, it was the away team who had the chance for points at the close of the first half.  Brown had two attempts at goal, succeeding with his second, to take Dundee within a point of Ayr at 14-13.
            Ayr continued to maraud their way through the mud in the second half.  Dundee’s Chris Cumming found himself in the sin bin, giving Wilson a shot at goal, which he duly took, making the score 17-13.  Five minutes later, the pattern was reversed, with Ayr replacement AJ McFarlane receiving a yellow card and Dundee getting a kickable penalty, which Brown missed.
            Some strategic kicking and committed tackling forced more fumbles from Dundee.  A great kick to touch from Ayr’s Ross Curle eventually led to the Millbrae men’s third try.  Scrum-half Murray McConnell found his way over in the corner at sixty-two minutes.  Wilson’s successful touchline conversion stretched Ayr’s lead to 24-13.
            Dundee seemed determined to claw their way back into the match in the final quarter, but Ayr’s defence was just too good.  A fourth try from Ayr looked likely, with Wilson combining with his fellow winger Cammy Taylor to move the play into Dundee’s half, but Ayr were penalised right on the line.
            The game began to lose its shape, but Dundee still pressed on.  As the clock ticked over to eighty-five minutes, Dundee were eventually hauled into touch to bring the match to a close.  Final score Ayr 24 Dundee High 13.
- Eléna Hogarth.

Friday, 10 February 2012

McConnell extends Scottish Rugby Elite Development contract

Murray McConnell may not have taken to the field in Glasgow Warriors' victory over the Scarlets last night, but Ayr's young scrum-half has been rewarded for his continued good play with an extended deal with Scottish Rugby's Elite Development system.  The full story is at the Warriors' website.

If you want to get a look at the future of Scottish rugby, the Under-20s' match against Wales is broadcast live tonight on the Welsh language channel S4/C, available on Sky 134.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Fergusson back in U20s team/McConnell on bench for Glasgow

Ayr's Robbie Fergusson takes up his place at outside centre for Scotland Under-20s' match against their Welsh counterparts at Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay on Friday evening.  After missing last week's disappointing loss to England due to a hip injury, Fergusson is now fully fit.  Read the full story at Scottish Rugby.

Murray McConnell, another of Ayr's rising stars, is named as a substitute for Glasgow Warriors' RaboDirect PRO12 match against the Scarlets at Firhill on Thursday.  He finds himself on the bench with former Millbrae man Gordon Reid.  The match is televised live on BBC Alba on Sky 168, Freeview 8 and Virgin Media 188.  The full story is on Glasgow Warriors' website.

Another reminder of the RBS-sponsored Scotland Club XV game against a French club side taking place at Millbrae on Friday 24th February at 7:30pm.  With several Ayr players in the squad (and free entry, there are plenty of reasons to attend.

Good luck to Robbie and Murray, and good luck to Ayr for the match against Melrose on Saturday!