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