Friday, 17 January 2014

Ayr v Jersey preview

After Ayr's gutsy performance against Cornish Pirates in Penzance on Sunday, they are back at Millbrae for the first time in 2014 for their last British and Irish Cup match, this time welcoming Jersey to Ayrshire.

It was a close match when the two met for the first leg, so as well as looking for a victory this time, the men in pink and black will also be facing former team-mate in the form of Nick Campbell (above), who joined Jersey at the start of the season.

"Our team played to a high standard on what seems like a rather distant sunny afternoon in Jersey," says Ayr head coach Peter Laverie, "and we were incredibly frustrated with some of the decisions which went against us.  Still, our resolve is to perform well on Saturday and get a win."

He continues: "We'll be looking to get our game speed and intensity up right from the start.  We have a robust pack and a quick back line who all like to play rugby and will want to put on a show for the faithful Millbrae support."

The fans will be pleased to see the return of former Ayr and current Glasgow Warriors players Gordon Reid and Mark Bennett, who start at prop and outside centre respectively, as they did last week.  Their Warriors team-mate Fraser Brown will also be pulling on the pink and black jersey again at flanker.

Youngster Danny McCluskey starts on the right wing, with Robbie Fergusson moving to the other wing from full back at Grant Anderson returns at that position.  Influential lock Scott Sutherland and speedy flanker Graham Fisken are back too, and talented front row player James Malcolm makes his first start at hooker.  Dean Kelbrick retains the captaincy.

Glasgow Hawks and Glasgow Warriors EDP Andrew Redmayne is on the bench to gain some experience of the British and Irish Cup.

"It will give him a chance to spy on us before the big league match against Hawks next week!" laughs Laverie.

On a more serious note, Laverie is keen to extoll the benefits of the British and Irish Cup for Scottish clubs.

"It is an excellent tournament and really challenges players and coaches.  It is for clubs to be ambitious and raise their standards to meet that challenge.  I hear calls from some for district sides to be in this competition but, apart from being a false level, it will just remove a huge pot of funding from the club game and I never really understand why we would want to drag the club game down rather than push it up.  Of course it's hard work to achieve better standards but that's the game.  After all, clubs really are the main key to rugby success in Scotland at all levels, followed by schools."


15. Grant Anderson, 14. Danny McCluskey, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. Dean Kelbrick (capt), 11. Robbie Fergusson; 10. Finn Russell, 9. Peter Jericevich; 1. Gordon Reid, 2. James Malcolm, George Hunter; 4. Callum Templeton, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Graham Fisken, 7. Fraser Brown, 8. Peter McCallum.


16. Fergus Scott, 17. Nick Cox, 18. D'arcy Rae, 19. Andrew Dunlop, 20. Andrew Redmayne, 21. Murray McConnell, 22. Craig Gossman.

Please note the earlier kick-off of 2pm.

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