Sunday, 17 November 2013

Currie 24 Ayr 15

Currie may play in the colours of a wasp, but it wasn't their sting that got Ayr at Malleny Park on Saturday, rather their dogged determination.  They were a Jack Russell with its jaws firmly clamped around Ayr's ankle for eighty minutes and the visitors couldn't shake them off.

It was a strange first half with neither side really getting anywhere.  The set-pieces were competitive, especially the scrum, and although the home team seemed keen to launch several attacks through their lively backs, they looked a bit tentative.

Ayr's forwards weren't quite their marauding selves, despite some good breaks from prop George Hunter and flankers Andrew Dunlop and Peter McCallum.  Each team conceded a few penalties but couldn't take advantage of line-outs on each other's five-metre lines. 

A strong breeze didn't help the kicking from hand, with Ayr stand-off Finn Russell wisely keeping it to a minimum, possibly after watching his diminutive counterpart George Horne's effort with the boot being blown backwards.

Currie winger Ruaridh Smith began to get things going but couldn't get past the solid defence of Ayr opposite number Richard Dalgleish.  Russell also put in some hefty tackles when Currie made forays into Ayr's half.

Ayr had their chances too, through winger Kerr Gossman and inside centre Dean Kelbrick, the best coming when Kelbrick shot through a hole in Currie's defence only to find Scott Sutherland on the wing and pass the ball to his knees (hand height on anyone other than the 6'6" lock).

Currie were building up a bit of momentum, led by number eight Ross Weston, who was on fine form all afternoon.  But Ayr dug deep, especially when second row Benn Cogley was sin-binned. 

They were bound to struggle with a man down, and Currie took advantage of an Ayr error at thirty-seven minutes to score, scrum-half Richard Sneddon nipping through a big gap in defence to grab a try.  Horne converted.  7-0.

Ayr had a renewed purpose in the second half, with strong running from Gossman, McCallum and replacement flanker James Eddie.  However, it was a sign of things to come when Horne thought he was away with an interception early on, only to be called back for off-side.

Ayr remained calm and camped out on Currie's line until the ball had been through almost every player's hands, but they couldn't get past the home defence.  Eventually Currie let up and a quick tap-and-go from replacement scrum-half Murray McConnell saw the ball find its way over the whitewash in the big paws of Sutherland at fifty-one minutes.  Russell's conversion was short.  7-5.

Currie hit back five minutes later after some hard work and several rucks saw outside centre Ethan Pollock get their second try.  Horne got the extras.  14-5.

The home team completely took their eye off the ball at the restart, allowing McCallum to scoop it up and dive over for a well-deserved try by the rambunctious young flanker.  The angle was too wide for Russell to convert.  14-10.

Ayr's backs livened up, with Robbie Fergusson, having replaced Gossman, linking up well with outside centre Ross Curle and full-back Grant Anderson.  The forwards displayed some heartening drives, but Currie just wouldn't be ground down.  Even when flanker Michael Vernal was yellow-carded with ten minutes to go, they refused to despair.

A minute later, Ayr prop Nick Cox scored in the corner from a ferocious drive.  Russell missed the conversion, but Ayr had nosed in front by a point.  14-15.

Still, Currie wouldn't lie down and roll over.  Ayr gave away a penalty right in front of the posts and Horne duly booted the ball over the crossbar with five minutes left on the clock.  17-15.

Ayr and their supporters always have the belief that they can fight it out until the bitter end, but so too do Currie.  Just as the seconds were ticking away, it looked like Ayr would fashion a try through the backs to break Currie's hearts, only for Smith to fly on to a long pass from Ayr and charge all the way to the other end of the pitch for a try to win the match.  Horne converted.  24-15.

The whistle was blown for full-time and Currie celebrated like they'd won the league.  Nobody could begrudge them the win after such a doughty performance.

Final score: Currie 24 Ayr 15.

- Elena Hogarth.

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