Monday, 24 March 2014

Ayr Ladies 39 Glasgow University 7

Ayr Ladies ran in six tries to beat Glasgow University Women and win their RBS Bowl semi-final at Millbrae on Sunday afternoon.

Glasgow had beaten Ayr twice already in the league and the ladies knew it would be a tough encounter.

The visitors had the majority of the possession in the first quarter but Ayr managed to get their hands on the ball after some hard work from prop Gemma Swankie and flanker Claire McGill, who was a safe pair of hands in the line-out.  They had an early opportunity to score but the referee adjudged they had been held-up.

It was a sunny but cold day in Alloway and there were handling errors from both teams, the huge hits put in by the tough Glasgow forwards possibly responsible for a few spills by the home side.

Ayr were strong in the set piece - hooker Amy McGillivray steady with her throws and McGill again proving useful at her own line-out as well as the opposition's - and managed to get a good shove on at the scrum.  Flanker Laura Somerville, number eight Lisa Croniken and inside centre Laura Turner were solid in the tackle and displayed strength in their running.

However, it was Glasgow University who got on the scoreboard first, their pacy winger shooting off through the defence to nab a converted try.  0-7.

Ayr Ladies dug deep though and the combined efforts of prop Louise Maclauchlan, wingers Ann-Marie Connelly and Phoebe McDowall and outside centre Daryl Paterson moved them out of their own half.  It wasn't long before lock Ruth Barclay-Paterson forced her way over for Ayr's opening score.  Full-back Emily Irving couldn't manage the wide conversion.  5-7.

The sides exchanged a few turnovers, as well as penalties, but it was Glasgow who were dominating, pinning Ayr into their own half for some time.  But when Ayr did get some possession, centres Turner and Paterson showed ambition to run it, enthusiastically cheered on by the home crowd. 

Glasgow had another attacking opportunity through their speedy wingers but a forward pass was their undoing.  Another solid line-out for Ayr allowed them to trundle slowly but surely to Glasgow's line and it was Barclay-Paterson who again barrelled over for another unconverted try.  10-7.

The second half began with some more handling errors but Ayr didn't let it bother them.  They remained calm to claim possession and territory and some hard hits from replacement Kirstin Daly helped their cause.

Again, it was the line-out that allowed them to drive for the line and this time it was lock Ashleigh Nelson who powered over for an unconverted try.  15-7.

Ayr Ladies were now up and running and determined not to let Glasgow University back into the match.  Croniken showed her pace to get them into a good position and when the visitors infringed, a quick tap and go from Daly allowed the replacement to nip over for a try.  20-7.

Further exciting bursts from McGillivray, Swankie, Connelly and McDowall put Glasgow under pressure and it wasn't long before a turnover from Ayr released Irving and she flew under the posts for try number five.  25-7.

Ayr unfortunately gave away a few penalties, giving Glasgow some, but the home defence snuffed out any attacking opportunities near their line. 

A solid Ayr scrum allowed Irving to race off again and she glided over for a try she converted herself.  32-7.

The home side were now in control and their confidence was growing, displayed by an excellent take of a high ball by replacement Megan Thomson.  She combined with Croniken to move play into Glasgow's half and yet more poaching at the line-out led to Turner burrowing over the line but Glasgow held her up.

The resulting scrum saw Croniken pick up at the back and fly in for try number seven, which Irving converted.  39-7.

A few moments later and the referee blew the whistle to send Ayr Ladies into the RBS Bowl final, where they will face Broughton.

Final score: Ayr Ladies 39 Glasgow University 7.

- Elena Hogarth.

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