Sunday, 31 March 2013

Dundee HSFP 5 Ayr 15

Ayr found themselves in a real dogfight with Dundee HSFP, but the Millbrae men fought their way into the RBS Cup final for the fourth year in a row.

It was always going to be a tense afternoon, with both teams determined to get to Murrayfield for finals day, but it was especially so for the home side who were playing one of their last matches with Ian Rankin as head coach.  It was their tenacity that dominated the opening proceedings.

Both sides overcame a few early handling errors - mainly forced by ferocious tackling - to try and get some running rugby going on a lovely afternoon on the banks of the Tay.  Dundee's Andy McLean was on the rampage, and Ayr scrum-half Peter Jericevich certainly felt the force as he was bashed out of the way when trying to stop the big winger from reaching the try line.

Ayr's man-of-the-match-winning flanker Ross Doneghan was also on the charge but couldn't make it to the whitewash.  Full back Grant Anderson got in on the act too, making some good breaks, but it was the home team who got the first points on the board, flanker Iain Wilson squeezing in for a try on the corner.  Stand-off Jack Steele couldn't manage the tricky conversion.  5-0.

There followed a tense period in which Dundee closed down any attack Ayr tried.  The visitors didn't help themselves by throwing a couple of forward passes, but they aren't the RBS Premiership champions for nothing.  They did what they've done all season and kept their composure.  At twenty-eight minutes, prop George Hunter rumbled his way over for a try which Jericevich converted.  5-7.

The rest of the first half saw the teams cancel each other out.  Dundee's scrum-half Andy Dymock made a few dangerous runs, but he was always quickly closed down, as was Ayr's flying winger Craig Gossman.

Dundee had a chance to extend their lead with a penalty kick but Steele missed.  Ayr's centres Dean Kelbrick and Robbie Fergusson and hooker Hayden Wisnewski were threatening to carve up the Mayfield turf, but half-time came with no change to the scoreboard.

Ayr were unlucky to lose Gossman to an arm injury just at the resumption of the second half, and he was followed off the pitch by Kelbrick a few minutes later. 

Again, forced errors were made by both teams, but Ayr's ever-reliable second row Scott Sutherland steadied the ship with some good work not only in the line-out but also the loose play.  Winger Richard Dalgleish was also solid under the high ball all afternoon, and prop Denford Mutamangira put in a few of his trademark barrelling runs.

Replacement scrum-half Murray McConnell made his presence known, almost diving over for a try after several phases of attack only to be bundled into touch.  He showed his strength in defence too, putting in a huge tackle on a Dundee forward that drew winces from the crowd.

There were no more scores until ten minutes before the final whistle when Jericevich landed a penalty.  5-10.  Each side seemed fairly equal in possession and territory and there was some exciting rugby to keep the spectators on the edge of their seats. 

Dundee's excellent defensive efforts were matched by Ayr, with flankers Doneghan and Andy Dunlop and captain Calum Forrester putting in the hard work.  The usually fleet-footed fly-half Ross Curle wasn't getting any room to show off, but he too proved doughty in defence.

It really could have gone either way, but it was Ayr who took their chances, firstly with some strong charges from second row Colin White and then by young centre Fergusson touching down for an unconverted try with two minutes to go.  5-15.

The ball was soon booted off the park, sending the Ayr players and their travelling support into jubliant celebrations.  It's now on to Murrayfield to face Melrsoe and a quest for more silverware.


Friday, 29 March 2013

Dundee HSFP v Ayr preview

Ayr head east to take on Dundee HSFP in the RBS Cup semi-final on Saturday.  After last week's disappointing loss to Aberdeen Grammar in the final league match of the season, Ayr will be glad to return to action in a competition where they have previously done so well.

"Aberdeen worked hard for their victory last week and were rightly rewarded for their performance," acknowledges Ayr assistant coach Peter Laverie.  "However, we have addressed the problem areas in training and the players are in no doubt about the improvements expected for this crucial semi-final.  Everyone wants to get on that pitch at Murrayfield for the final but we have to earn it."

The squad has been increased to twenty-two players for this encounter, with David Young, Peter McCallum and Zimbabwean internationalist Shingai Mpofu bolstering the bench.  However, Nick Campbell has moved on as he is now a professional and Finn Russell is on his way to New Zealand thanks to the Macphail Scholarship.

The semi-final marks the last match at Mayfield with Dundee head coach Ian Rankin in charge.  Laverie has some friendly words of farewell.

"The old horse will inevitably have some tricks up his sleeve for this game but it would be rude not to give him a decent send-off."

Team (subject to change on match day):

15. Grant Anderson, 14. Craig Gossman, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick, 11. Richard Dalgleish; 10. Ross Curle, 9. Peter Jericevich; 1. Denford Mutamangira, 2. Hayden Wisnewski, 3. George Hunter; 4. Scott Sutherland, 5. Colin White; 6. Ross Doneghan, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Calum Forrester (capt).


16. David Young, 17. D'arcy Rae, 18. Stuart Fenwick, 19. Peter McCallum, 20. Shingai Mpofu, 21. Murray McConnell, 22. Cammy Taylor.

The match is scheduled to kick-off at 3pm at Mayfield, but please note that if the match is switched to the University of Dundee's playing fields, kick-off will be 2.30pm.


Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Finn receives John Macphail Scholarship

It was announced today that Ayr's young fly-half Finn Russell is a recipient of the prestigious John Macphail Scholarship.  Finn will join Edinburgh Accies prop Alex Allan in New Zealand for fifteen weeks of playing for local clubs in the Christchurch area and training at the Canterbury RFU's international high performance unit.

Read the full story here

Finn also chats to Stuart Bathgate about the exciting times ahead in today's The Scotsman.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Aberdeen v Ayr preview

Ayr take on Aberdeen in the last Premiership match of the season on Saturday at Rubislaw.  The league title may already be in the bag, but facing Aberdeen at home will be a difficult proposition for Ayr nonetheless.

"We realise that Aberdeen have much to play for and we know that they have a good home record," says Ayr head coach Kenny Murray.  "Although we had a good victory against them this year, we anticipate that this will be a different challenge."

"The past few months have been a tense affair for our players, with every game a must-win" he continues.  "However, for the first time this season, the pressure is off us and I expect the players to play with confidence and ambition for the last league game of the season."

Murray has a near-full squad to select from, with several players returning from international action.  Prop George Hunter has overcome a long-term injury to return to the starting line-up and is joined by fellow Glasgow Elite Development player Nick Campbell, who starts in the second row.  Ross Curle takes over at fly-half as Finn Russell is unavailable.

This week will be Ayr's eighteenth defence of the Bill McLaren Shield and the players will be doing everything in their power to keep a hold of it until the end of the season.

Murray concludes: "I would like to convey my best wishes to all the coaches who are stepping down at the end of the season and in particular for making the Premiership an exciting and enjoyable league to be part of.  Our thanks also go to all the match officials who contributed to the success of the Premiership over the past year."

Team (subject to change on match day):

15.  Grant Anderson, 14. Cammy Taylor, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Ross Curle, 9. Murray McConnell; 1. Denford Mutamangira, 2. Hayden Wisnewski, 3. George Hunter; 4. Scott Sutherland, 5. Nick Campbell; 6. Graham Fisken, 7. Andrew Dunlop; 8. Calum Forrester (capt).


16. D'arcy Rae, 17. Stuart Fenwick, 18. Colin White, 19. Peter Jericevich, 20. Richard Dalgleish.


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Four Ayr players in Scotland Club XV squad

Ayr scrum-half Murray McConnell has been added to the Scotland Club XV squad to face their French counterparts on Friday night in Bourgoin-Jallieu.  The Glasgow Warriors Elite Development player takes the place of his Ayr team-mate Peter Jericevich on the bench, with Peter promoted to the starting fifteen, where he joins winger Craig Gossman and inside centre Dean Kelbrick.

Read the full story here

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Ayr U16s in National Final

More success at Millbrae as the Ayr U16 Squad have qualified for the National Bowl Final against Highland RFC at Murrayfield on Tuesday 16th April 2013. Kick-off is at 7.00pm.

Congratulations to all the players, coaches, management, parents and supporters.  This is a marvellous achievement - well done.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Lowe stars in Scotland U18 win

Ayr RFC teenager Gavin Lowe was awarded man-of-the-match in Scotland Under-18s win over Ireland Under-18s on Sunday.  The young Scots beat the visitors 25-0 at Laigh Bent, Hamilton, with Lowe kicking two conversions and two penalties.

Read the full story here.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Big crowd enjoys Scotland Club XV victory

There was a great turn-out on Friday evening for the second Club International to be held at Millbrae.  Scotland Club XV took on their Irish counterparts and secured a 30-18 victory with more than a little help from three of Ayr RFC's finest.

The Ayr ball kids formed a guard of honour as both teams took to the pitch on a dreich night in Alloway, and the Ayr Pipe Band played a stirring rendition of Flower of Scotland. 

As proceedings got underway, opposing stand-offs Gavin Dunne (Ireland) and Lee Millar (Scotland) had penalty chances but missed.  Millar had another two, slotting the second to get the first points on the board.

Flying prop and man-of-the-match Alex Allan got the first try for the Scots, but Millar couldn't get the conversion.  He nabbed another two penalties though to make the score 14-0 at twenty minutes.

There was a long stoppage, as Ireland Club XV player Brian Quill was taken off with a suspected broken leg. 

The Scots led 17-0 at the interval after another Millar penalty.  The crowd was entertained at half-time by a couple of games between the Ayr and Marr P6s, with the Millbrae minis winning both.

The Irish got things going in the second half with a penalty from Dunne and an unconverted try from Richie Sweeney.  The gap was narrowed to 17-11 when Dunne got another penalty and Scotland Club XV hooker Fraser Brown was sin-binned. 

Ayr's Dean Kelbrick had been putting in some tough work all night, and it was his pass to another Millbrae man Craig Gossman that launched the lord of the wings from his own half on a thrilling run through most of the Irish forwards and several of the backs to score a fantastic try.  Millar got the conversion.  24-11.

Ayr's third player in the squad Peter Jericevich made his Club International debut in the final quarter, replacing George Graham at scrum-half. 

The Irish came back, getting a converted push-over try, despite being down to fourteen men with Willie Ryan in the bin.  But the Scots grabbed two more penalties to make the final score 30-18 and send the fans home very happy.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

Watch France v Scotland at Millbrae

Ayr RFC is hosting an auld alliance evening at Millbrae on Saturday 16th March to celebrate France playing Scotland in the culmination of the Six Nations.  There will be a selection of meats direct from France, as well as cheese, wine and haggis to savour.  Get there early to avoid disappointment!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Three Ayr players in Scotland Club XV squad

Millbrae is delighted to be hosting the club international match between Scotland XV and their Irish counterparts this Friday (kick-off 7.30pm, free entry), and with three of Ayr's league-winning players involved, there is even more to cheer about.

Ayr's leading try-scorer Craig Gossman makes his club international debut, starting on the right wing, whilst Dean Kelbrick, who has played in this fixture before, starts at his usual position of inside centre. Scrum-half Peter Jericevich will also be hoping to get on the pitch, as he is named on the bench. There could have been more Ayr representatives, but prop Nick Cox and lock Scott Sutherland are both injured.

Last year's club international between Scotland and France took place at Millbrae and was a roaring success, and another huge turn-out is expected on Friday evening, so please get along to Alloway early.

Read the full story here.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

D'arcy starts, Robbie on bench for Scotland U20s

Wunderkinder D'arcy Rae and Robbie Fergusson are back in their national colours after they helped Ayr reach the Scottish Cup semi-final last week.  D'arcy starts at loosehead prop and Robbie takes his place among the substitutes.  Former Ayr player Mark Bennett returns from Glasgow Warriors duty to reclaim the inside centre spot.

Read the full story here.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Ayr Ladies 19 Stewartry Sirens 10

Ayr Ladies showed great spirit, determination and a real nose for the try-line to overcome Stewartry Sirens at Millbrae on Saturday morning.

With captain Gemma Swankie leading from the front, Ayr got off to a good start, securing a number of turn-overs, but Stewartry contained them to their own half.  The visitors made for the line but there was strong defence from the home side, with full-back Samantha Russell putting in some solid tackles.

Ayr managed to turn defence into attack, and stand-off Emily Irving showed why she was selected to represent Scotland under-20s, superbly handing off a defender to fly in under the posts for the first try.  She deftly converted her own score.  7-0.

Stewartry fought back, but Ayr again defended well, this time prop Louise Maclauchlan and winger Ann-Marie Connelly putting in the hard graft.  But Stewarty still found their way over the line.  The conversion attempt was short.  7-5.

As the second half began, Ayr right winger Lisa Jayne Croniken displayed great strength not to be turned over by Stewartry, and a few minutes later, she turned up again, this time scoring under the posts.  Irving got the extras.  14-5.

Ayr competed well at the line-out, managing to steal Stewartry's throw on a couple of occasions.  But the visitors are a long-established team and grabbed another try just as the sun came out in Alloway.  The conversion was missed again.  14-10.

Ayr stuck to their purpose, moving play right up to the five-metre line and going for a push-over, only to knock-on.  They didn't have to wait long, however, for their third and final try.  A charge from centre Daryl Paterson started things off, but it was scrum-half Fiona Potts who scored on the wing after breaking from half-way.  With Irving suffering from cramp, Potts took the conversion but it fell short.

There were several contenders for player-of-the-match, but it was awarded to Daryl Paterson.  Final score Ayr Ladies 19 Stewartry Sirens 10.


Ayr 31 Stirling County 13

Ayr overcame a difficult first half against a determined Stirling County to claim their semi-final spot in the RBS Scottish Cup.  On a mild day at Millbrae, the RBS Premiership league champions eventually ran in four tries after a slow start.

Both teams seemed evenly matched to begin with, but it was the visitors who pushed the hardest.  Ayr did themselves no favours, their infringements on the Stirling five-metre line leading referee David Changleng to award a penalty try when it seemed County were about to go over and score.  With the conversion right in front of the posts, centre Brian Archibald nabbed the extras.  After ten minutes, the scoreboard read 0-7.

Five minutes later, Ayr gained a penalty in a kickable position and stand-off Finn Russell bisected the posts with ease.  3-7.

Ayr were a bit more settled with points on the board, and the forwards led the way, with some solid work from teenage prop D'arcy Rae, second row Colin White and openside flanker Andy Dunlop.  But errors were still made with forward passes and knocks-on spoiling things, and although Stirling also made mistakes, they continued to wrack up the points, with a drop goal from stand-off Stuart Edwards.  3-10.

The home side didn't panic, with Dunlop, blindside flanker Graham Fisken and prop Denford Mutamangira on the charge.  They just couldn't get through the tough County defence though, but the penalties against the visitors - for holding on and coming in from the side - bolstered Ayr.  They showed real patience and it was Dunlop who crashed over for a try at thirty-three minutes.  Russell nabbed the extras.  10-10.

As half-time loomed, Ayr's scrum-half Peter Jericevich, second row Scott Sutherland and Fisken all showed good hands to move play into Stirling's half, but to no avail.

Just after the resumption of play, Ayr's captain Calum Forrester burst into a canter that had the large crowd yelling him on, but Stirling again somehow got the ball back.  Hooker Alex Moffat made a real nuisance of himself, bullocking his way around the pitch. 

At forty-seven minutes, the visitors got three more points from another penalty kicked by Archibald.  10-13.

However, County counldn't contain Ayr for long, and outside centre Robbie Fergusson started off the move that led to winger Richard Dalgleish diving over on the right wing for Ayr's second try.  It was a difficult conversion for Russell, but he made it.  17-13.

The flood gates opened, and two minutes later, Ayr had another try.  Gossman showed some real brilliance to catch a high ball and dance his way through the defence and over the line.  Russell again easily slotted the conversion.  24-13.

Ayr continued to infringe, though, and the referee awarded another penalty, but Archibald's kick hit the post.

Stirling weren't downcast, and pressed on with their attacking play, but they came up against some excellent Ayr defence, particularly that of replacement hooker Hayden Wisnewski. 

Gossman was on his usual firework-like form, with the tiniest spark setting him off.  At twenty-two minutes, he scored again, seemingly coming from nowhere and breaking tackles at will.  Russell made another difficult conversion look easy.  31-13.

Ayr fought for most of the possession for the rest of the half, although Stirling did not fade away, but there were no more scores.  When County did make a break, courtesy of winger Ross Aitken, it was superbly snuffed out by Dalgleish's doughty defence. 

Gossman was unsurprisingly awarded man-of-the-match just as the whistle was blown to send Ayr into the Cup semi-finals.  Final score Ayr 31 Stirling County 13.


Friday, 1 March 2013

Success for Ayr Ladies U18s

There is more encouraging news for women's rugby at Ayr, as the under-18s claimed some silverware today.  They won the West 7s tournament and have progressed to the national finals.  Well done from everyone at Millbrae!

Lowe on the bench for Scotland U18s

Ayr's Gavin Lowe has been named amongst the replacements for Scotland under-18s as they face their English rivals on Sunday at Darlington RFC. 

Read the full story here

Bennett signs for Glasgow Warriors

Former Ayr prodigy Mark Bennett has signed a one-year deal to play for Glasgow Warriors permanently next season.  The Scotland under-20s star has been on loan from Clermont Auvergne since November, but will now stay with the Rabo Direct Pro12 team for the next year.

Read the full story here.

Also hooking up with the Scotstoun side are several of Ayr's younger players, who turned out for the Glasgow Warriors' under-16s on Wednesday evening.  John McCorkindale, Sam Gray and Ryan Dunlop were among a number of youngsters facing their Edinburgh counterparts on the back pitches of Murrayfield.

Read the full story here.


Ayr v Stirling preview

Everyone at Millbrae has now (hopefully) come down from the ceiling after Saturday's RBS Premiership-winning victory over Currie.  It was a wonderful weekend, but attention is turned to the Scottish Cup, with Ayr welcoming Stirling County to Alloway on Saturday for a hotly anticipated quarter-final.

The men in pink and black have a long-running love affair with the Cup, reaching the final three times on the trot and winning twice, and they relish the chance to get into the semi-finals yet again.

"The Cup is held in high regard by Ayr," says assistant coach Peter Laverie, "and we have given ourselves a chance to do something even more special, which is to win the double."

He is justifiably proud of his players' efforts last weekend, but knows that they must be focussed this Saturday against a tough Stirling side.

"Stirling will be confident following their win against Gala but we are not going to give anything away now.  It is bound to be a hard game and the players will be reminded of the need to play for eighty minutes and create the all-important go-forward platform we require to succeed."

Laverie adds: "Winner takes all - Cup semi-final and the Bill McLaren Shield."

There are a couple of changes to the team, with prop Nick Cox unfortunately missing out due to a hand injury.  Robbie Fergusson and D'arcy Rae return from Scotland under-20s duty, and Colin White moves from the back row to the second row.

Team (subject to change on match day):

15. Grant Anderson, 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Dean Kelbrick, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Peter Jericevich; 1. Denford Mutamangira, 2. Stuart Fenwick, 3. D'arcy Rae; 4. Scott Sutherland, 5. Colin White; 6. Graham Fisken, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Calum Forrester (capt).


16. Hayden Wisnewski, 17. Gordon Sykes, 18. Ross Doneghan, 19. Ross Curle/Peter McCallum, 20. Murray McConnell.

Kick-off 3pm!