Sunday, 2 November 2014

Gala 14 Ayr 32

Ayr secured a very heartening away win over Gala to top the BT Premiership.

Nothing less than everything and the kitchen sink is expected at Netherdale, and that's what Gala threw at Ayr in the opening quarter.  The home side launched into attacking mode from the get-go, a clever cross-kick the pick of their tricks.

Ayr were sniffing out opportunities too, number eight Blair Macpherson starting things off from the back of a solid scrum.  Centre Ross Curle and full-back Craig Gossman then took over, allowing winger Robbie Fergusson to chip on, but Gala winger Lewis Young was on hand to ground the ball before an Ayr player could get to it.

And that was all in the opening three minutes.  Gala made the first infringement shortly after and Curle stepped up to knock over a penalty.  0-3.

The rain began and proved more of a problem for the Maroons, who knocked on several times.  When they held on to the ball, a nice slip pass unleashed centre Alan Emond and pushed them into Ayr's half. 

A couple of penalties against Ayr helped Gala's cause further and at thirteen minutes Young nipped over for a try.  Craig Dods easily converted in front of the posts.  7-3.

Ayr set to work, with captain Dean Kelbrick acting as a battering ram in the centre and flanker Andrew Dunlop and prop George Hunter crashing around the pitch.  Glasgow Warrior Jon Welsh made another welcome appearance for the men in pink and black and was on the charge. 

It was a good day for the mobile front row, with hooker Stuart Fenwick making breaks and superbly handing off a Gala defender, and combined with Hunter and Welsh, put Gala under pressure at the scrum.

The rain eased off and so did the match, with the intensity of both sides dipping.  Ayr received a blow when stand-off Danny McCluskey hurt his arm putting in a flying tackle and had to be escorted from the pitch.  He was replaced by Kerr Gossman.

At twenty-six minutes, Ayr gave away a penalty just inside their own half and Dods stepped up to the tee.  His kick had the distance but was wide.

Gala then infringed at the scrum and Curle's huge kick for the corner put Ayr in prime position to go for the try-line.  Hunter and Fenwick both went for it but couldn't get past the stubborn Gala defence.

An Ayr scrum moments later allowed Macpherson to launch himself at the line, clattering his way over an unfortunate Gala defender in the process, and get the ball down for a try.  Curle converted.  7-10.

Centre Gregor Young looked like he would get Gala back on track when he found himself in acres of space, but decided to kick on instead of passing to his team-mates.  Another attack from the home side a few minutes later looked promising but Ayr flanker Callum Templeton wouldn't be out-run by a back and hauled the Maroon to the ground. 

With Gala not releasing, Ayr got a line-out that allowed Fergusson to break away up the left wing, where good hands from Dunlop and Curle put Craig Gossman over for a try at thirty-eight minutes.  Curle missed the wide conversion.  7-15.

The second half began in a messy fashion with stolen line-outs and knocks on.  Dods summed up his team's afternoon when he kicked the ball straight into the backside of second row Opeta Palepoi.

Ayr scrum-half David Armstrong, second row Scott Sutherland, Fergusson and Curle put Gala under pressure in their own half and the home team were soon off-side, handing Curle another penalty chance at fifty minutes, which he took.  7-18.

Number eight Euan Dods cheered up the crowd, firing past the Ayr defence, but was tracked down by Armstrong and the ball was spilled, allowing Kerr Gossman to jink his way round the defenders.

Fergusson, Curle and Kelbrick showed off their nice hands in Gala's half, and Fergusson's deft little chip bounced sweetly for Craig Gossman to collect for his second try.  Curle converted.  7-25.

Gossman the elder soon found himself in trouble when he put in a dangerous tackle on Lewis Young, who after a few minutes on the ground thankfully got to his feet and played on.  Gossman spent ten minutes in the sin bin.

With the man advantage, and their devoted fans shouting them on, Gala ran amok and Euan Dods crossed for a try, after juggling the ball.  His full-back namesake got the conversion.  14-25.

It got a bit frantic after that, with breaks and chips and hacks.  Curle and Dunlop were in the thick of things, as was Kerr Gossman, who put in a much-needed bear-hug of a tackle to snuff out Gala. 

Second row Robert McAlpine and replacement prop Fraser Watt looked to be on to something but a knock-on brought it to a premature end.  Gala found themselves off-side again with ten minutes to go, but Curle couldn't manage the penalty kick.

Curle delighted the crowd when he was set on his backside by the slippery conditions but that was the last thing they had to laugh at as their team drifted away.  Craig Gossman, winger Richard Dalgleish and Kerr Gossman had them groaning in despair as they marauded their way round the pitch.

A small scuffle broke out but nothing came of it.  An Ayr line-out let them trundle towards the try-line and Hunter looked to be over but was held up.

A couple of scrums for Ayr followed and after some patient play, McAlpine slammed his way through the defence to get the bonus point try, converted by Curle.  14-32

Gala still pressed on with the clock ticking towards eighty minutes.  Replacement Grayson Hart set off on an exciting run, supported by Euan Dods and Gary Graham.  Emond couldn't continue their good work though as he was felled by Fergusson.  The whistle for full-time went soon after to send the crowd home disappointed and the visitors home happy.

Final score: Gala 14 Ayr 32.

- Elena Hogarth.

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