There was no doubting the commitment of Ayr Ladies and their opponents Morgan yesterday, not to mention the coaches and supporters of both teams, as the wind howled, the rain fell and hail stones battered down at Millbrae for this BT National Women's League Division 1 match.
How nine tries were scored between the two sides in such appalling conditions is astonishing. It was the home team who got the first points on the board, with outside centre Daryl Paterson fighting her way through the defence to score. Full-back Catherine Shennan easily converted. 7-0.
It wasn't long before the ladies in pink and black were off again, this time number eight Lynda Morgan making a break from her own half. The move was carried on by inside centre Laura Turner, who released stand-off Rachael Mulholland to go in under the posts. Shennan again converted. 14-0.
Morgan Ladies were undaunted though and even with a slippy ball, managed to demonstrated nice hands to move proceedings into Ayr's half. They couldn't breach the tough defence though.
Ayr showed the spirit of adventure, kicking from their own half for number eight Morgan to hack on and chase. The opposition defence gathered but a knock-on resulted in an Ayr scrum. Morgan the player, not the team, picked up from the base and ran all the way for Ayr's third try. Shennan couldn't manage the tricky conversion. 19-0.
A great catch from Paterson at the restart put Ayr in a good position but they were penalised for holding on. A few phases later though and they reclaimed possession and got themselves a scrum, which stayed solid despite the increasingly slippery surface.
Again, Paterson and Morgan were marauding their way all over the park but the visitors were quick to pounce on any errors. Ayr didn't help themselves by being caught off-side deep in their own half and in the midst of a hail shower, Morgan Ladies took the opportunity to dive over in the corner for an unconverted try. 19-5.
It was no surprise that both sides racked up knocks-on with the temperature dropping, and the visitors also struggled with their line-out throws as hands numbed in the cold.
Ayr Ladies kept going though, with scrum-half Niamh Durnan, Mulholland, Turner, Paterson and Shennan combining well to move the action close enough to Morgan's line for Mulholland to go over for her second try, which was unconverted. 24-5.
This put a spring in their soggy step and moments later flanker Eilidh Thomson fired on to a ball in her own half and took off, bashing a defender out of the way in the process, to get the last try before half-time. It was unconverted. 29-5.
Conditions worsened in the second half, but Turner still managed to display some strong running and Paterson put in a series of excellent hand-offs to get into Morgan's half.
The Dundee-side wrestled back possession, although any attacks they attempted were snuffed out by prop Louise McLauchlan, winger Sarah Paterson and replacement forward Amy McGillivray.
Ayr were putting the Morgan scrum under pressure too, the scrummaging tutorial earlier in the week from Scotland international prop Gordon Reid clearly paying off. The visitors refused to capitulate though and scrambled over for their second unconverted try. 29-10.
Lynda Morgan was on fine form all afternoon and again she sprinted from her own half to get her second, and Ayr's sixth, try. The conversion attempt was short. 34-10.
Moments later and Turner emulated her speedy team-mate by running more than fifty metres for the final try of the day, which was converted by replacement Jackie O'Neil. 41-10.
Play continued for a few more minutes, but after a consultation with the captains, the referee decided to call the game early and everyone gladly went back to the clubhouse.
Ayr Ladies will be happy to have ended 2014 with a good win in very difficult conditions.
Final score: Ayr Ladies 41 Morgan Ladies 10.
- Elena Hogarth.