Friday, 30 October 2015

Ayr v Hawick preview

League leaders Ayr welcome fourth-placed Hawick to Millbrae for round nine of the BT Premiership, kicking off at 2pm.

They don't get much tougher than Borders teams, and after a hard-fought win away at Selkirk last weekend, it's another difficult prospect in the shape of the men in green.

'Hawick were the only team to defeat us home and away last season,' says head coach Calum Forrester, 'so we are under no illusions as to the task in hand this weekend.  They come to Millbrae on the back of four straight wins, so we'll have to be at the top of our game again this Saturday.'

Ayr lead the BT Premiership by six points, but Heriot's, Melrose and Hawick are bunched together in second, third and fourth place respectively and all will be looking to scramble over each other to track down Ayr.

There are a few changes in the squad, with two youngsters earning starts: Lewis Anderson at hooker and Jack Preston at scrum-half.  Anderson has made some impressive appearances as a replacement in recent weeks and Preston has been on great form for the 2nd XV.

Danny McCluskey takes Ross Curle's inside centre berth, with the captain moving to the outside.  Andrew Dunlop returns at blindside flanker, whilst on the bench Davids Young and Armstrong take their place.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Haddon McPherson, 13. Ross Curle (c), 12. Danny McCluskey, 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. Jack Preston; 1. George Hunter, 2. Lewis Anderson, 3. Javan Sebastian; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Andrew Dunlop, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum.

16. David Young, 17. D'arcy Rae, 18. Graham Fisken, 19. David Armstrong, 20. Archie Russell.

15. Ali Weir; 14. John Coutts, 13. Wian Griebenhow, 12. Rory Hutton, 11. Craig Russell; 10. Lee Armstrong, 9. Sean Goodfellow; 1. Shawn Muir, 2. Lindsey Gibson, 3. Matt Landels; 4. Bruce McNeil (c), 5. Craig Charters; 6. Nick McTaggart, 7. Rory Scott, 8. Keith Davies.

Replacements: 16. Gary Douglas, 17. Terry Skeet, 18. Stuart Graham, 19. Greg Cottrell, 20. Sean Chapman.

Kick-off 2pm!  Follow the scores live on Twitter.  The 2nd XV play Hamilton 2nd XV at 1pm and scores will be updated via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Selkirk 11 Ayr 33

Ayr cemented their position at the top of the BT Premiership with a bonus-point win against Selkirk at sunny Philiphaugh on Saturday.

There are no easy games in the Borders, and the bottom-of-the-table hosts were well organised and determined, especially in the first half.  It was unfortunate that their sturdy defence broke down in the final quarter.

Ayr were disrupted at the outset, not least due to the power of Selkirk's scrum.  Hooker James Malcolm had to temporarily leave the field after just a few minutes with a bloody ear.  Home scrum-half Michael Davies was troubling them too, dashing about here and there.

It wasn't long, though, until stand-off Frazier Climo spotted a gap, dummied beautifully to slip through and offloaded nicely to centre Robbie Fergusson for the opening try, which Climo converted.  0-7.

There were a few tentative moments from Selkirk, but winger Darren Clapperton looked assured with ball in hand.  They were helped by Ayr straying offside and, shortly after, a yellow card for George Hunter.  The prop pushed flanker Ewan McDougall at the breakdown, with the Selkirk man treating the crowd to a theatrical performance worthy of Benedict Cumberbatch.

Winger Rory Banks got Selkirk on the scoreboard with the resulting penalty.  3-7.

Ayr's line-out wasn't going to plan with some off-target throw-ins and Selkirk capitalised, repeatedly kicking for touch.  They crept into Ayr's twenty-two but replacement hooker Lewis Anderson nailed his throw when it mattered and scrum-half Ali Price and winger Richard Dalgleish raced off into Selkirk's half only to knock on.

There were lively breaks by Selkirk's stand-off Dashton Wellman and McDougall and Ayr's full-back Grant Anderson and number eight Pete McCallum, but numerous penalties by both teams, as well as injury assessments and some incredibly slow set-ups at the scrum, took all the zip out of the game for a time.

Selkirk again took their time to sneak into Ayr's half.  Some hefty tackles from flanker Will Bordill and Malcolm, back on with his ear stitched up, stopped them in their tracks.

A try was coming though and a couple of free kicks for Selkirk saw them push for the line, despite McCallum and flanker Blair Macpherson leading the Ayr defence.  Full-back Josh Welsh scored for the hosts, diving over in the corner.  Banks missed the conversion.  8-7.

Hunter, McCallum, Fergusson, Anderson and winger Haddon McPherson all had a go at breaching the Selkirk defence before half-time but got nowhere.

Selkirk extended their lead just after the resumption, with a Banks penalty, which made up for a disallowed drop-goal by Wellman, which everyone in the crowd thought had sailed between the posts.  11-7.

Ayr turned on the power, prop Javan Sebastian barrelling his way up the park, with Bordill, Fergusson and captain Ross Curle in support.  Selkirk managed a turnover and Ayr were pinged for not rolling away.  But the kick for the corner was kept in thanks to an astonishing limbo-esque pat back by McPherson.

Second row Robert McAlpine used those long legs to propel himself onwards, but the visitors were making heavy weather of it.  Just as one thing was going right, another would go wrong.  A penalty attempt by Climo hit the post to make matters worse.

No panic from Ayr though.  They steadied themselves at the set-pieces and Fergusson and Curle began to unravel the defence.  McPherson charged for the line and did well not to get dragged into touch.  The ball went flying through the hands to the other side of the pitch and Anderson muscled his way over.  Climo converted.  11-14.

It was a real blow to the home team that they lost too many of their front row players and scrums became uncontested, as they had been getting a great shove on throughout the match.

They could do nothing as Curle shot over for a try, converted by Climo.  11-21.

Ayr's tails were up, and replacement back Cameron Taylor flew up the wing for a certain try only to be called back for a forward pass.

With second row Andrew Renwick in the sin bin, it was all downhill for Selkirk.  Fergusson, McCallum and Macpherson - spinning his way out of tackles - pushed play right up to the five-metre line and a wonderful pass from Anderson let Curle get his second try of the day and Ayr's bonus point.  With Climo off, Curle stepped up to the tee but couldn't get the wide conversion.  11-26.

There was time for one more, and after a rumbling break from replacement prop D'arcy Rae, Fergusson cut a superb angle to claim the fifth try.  Curle converted.  11-33.

Ayr now lead the BT Premiership table by six points, but with fourth-placed Hawick visiting Millbrae this Saturday, and Heriot's and Melrose loitering in second and third place, there's still all to play for.

Final score: Selkirk 11 Ayr 33.

- Elena Hogarth.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Stewartry Sirens v Ayr Ladies preview

Ayr Ladies travel to Castle Douglas to take on Stewartry Sirens in the BT Women's National League Division 1.

The last time these two south-west rivals met was at BT Murrayfield in the final of the BT Plate in April, when the Sirens got the upper hand and took home the silverware.  So the Ladies will be looking to put in a strong performance, especially as they are sitting a place behind Stewartry in the table and would dearly love to leapfrog the Greenlaw side.

The squad continues to be a mixture of youth and experience.  Young half-backs Catherine Shennan and Emily Irving will be looking to pull the strings, whilst the tough yet mobile back row of Rachael Mulholland, Daryl Paterson and Lynda Morgan will be keen to put their opponents under pressure at the breakdown.

The teams know each other extremely well and this will be a closely fought contest.

Ayr Ladies:
15. Sammie Morrison; 14. Erin McSorley, 13. Laura Turner, 12. Kelsey Swift, 11. Connie Griffiths; 10. Catherine Shennan, 9. Emily Irving; 1. Lindsay Dick, 2. Lisa Croniken, 3. Louise McLauchlan; 4. Phoebe McDowall, 5. Ashleigh Nelson; 6. Rachael Mulholland, 7. Daryl Paterson, 8. Lynda Morgan.

16. Michelle Nelson, 17. Sarah Paterson, 18. Jackie O'Neil, 19. Lauren McBride, 20. Nattalie Rooney.

Kick-off 2pm.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Selkirk v Ayr preview

Ayr hit the road on Saturday as they travel to the Borders to take on Selkirk at Philiphaugh in the BT Premiership.

It will be the first meeting between the two clubs since the hosts were promoted from BT National League Division 1.  They had an extraordinary campaign last year, remaining undefeated in their league.  It's been a difficult transition to the BT Premiership for them, but with the irrepressible Peter Wright as head coach, they will be expertly prepared for this clash and will be ready to give Ayr the run-around.

'Philiphaugh is one of the toughest places to play in the league,' says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester.  'Selkirk's performances have been improving each week.  We will need to be at our best to come away with the result that we desire.'

There are a few changes to the squad, with Richard Dalgleish and Cameron Taylor swapping places from the bench to the starting line-up and Scott Sutherland returning to the second row.  Glasgow Warrior D'arcy Rae is among the substitutes.

The 2nd XV are away to Edinburgh Accies, with Millbrae RFC at home to Uddingston.  The Rugby World Cup semi-final between South Africa and New Zealand will be shown live in the clubhouse at Millbrae.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Haddon McPherson, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Ross Curle (c), 11. Richard Dalgleish; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. Alistair Price; 1. George Hunter, 2. James Malcolm, 3. Javan Sebastian; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum.

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. D'arcy Rae, 18. Graham Fisken, 19. Cameron Taylor, 20. Danny McCluskey.

15. Josh Welsh; 14. Rory Banks, 13. Craig MacDougall, 12. Ross Dixon (c), 11. Darren Clapperton; 10. Dashton Wellman, 9. Michael Davies; 1. Kieran Cooney, 2. James Bett, 3. Damian Byrne; 4. John Everitt, 5. Andrew Renwick; 6. Ewan MacDougall, 7.Callum Johnston, 8. Craig Marshall.

16. Callum McEwan, 17. Ross Purves, 18. Bruce Riddell, 19. P Forrest, 20. M Gordon.

Please note the early kick-off of 1.30pm!  Follow the scores live on Twitter.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Former Ayr players join Scotland Women coaching teams

Former Ayr players Dean Kelbrick and Peter Jericevich have been named in the coaching teams for Scotland Women under-20s and the senior squad respectively.

Kelbrick, who was Ayr captain last season before retiring from playing, has been named as Scotland Women under-20s coach along with Ross Miller.  Since hanging up his boots, Kelbrick has started coaching Hillhead/Jordanhill Ladies.

Jericevich has been appointed as Scotland Women assistant coach, and will work with Graeme Young and head coach Shade Munro.  He has previously coached Scotland Women 7s with Ayr backs' coach Scott Forrest.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Ayr 2nd XV 34 Watsonians 2nd XV 39

Watsonians were the visitors on a crisp autumnal afternoon at Millbrae - an afternoon in which running rugby dominated a pulsating encounter from start to finish.

Ayr came racing out of the blocks, and despite losing winger Gibson Siwo to injury within the first few minutes of the match, the men in black and pink scored first through a long range penalty from Graham Hunter.  Shortly after, Ayr extended their lead as Archie Russell broke the Watsonians line and fed Hunter who dotted down to take the game to 8-0.  The score was unconverted and that was how it stayed for the better part of the first half.

After some heavy Watsonians pressure on the Ayr line and some staunch defensive resistance, a mis-cued line-out by Watsonians allowed Ayr to relieve the pressure.  This lead to a penalty inside the ‘Sonians half, which Ayr opted to kick for the corner.  This proved a wise decision as the resulting maul was driven over the line by blindside flanker Stuart Fenwick, and the try converted by Hunter giving Ayr a 15-0 lead midway through the first half.

But Watsonians came roaring back into the game, first through an Ali Harris penalty, but more abruptly through centre and Scotland Sevens cap Jack Ferguson, as he evaded some weak tackles in the midfield to score in the corner.  15-8.  Some more weak defending from Ayr allowed Watsonians lock Ali Middleton to break through the middle and give the simplest of two-on-ones to his inside centre to score under the posts.  The try was converted by Harris and the boys trooped off at half time with the scores locked at 15-15.

The boys in maroon were clearly galvanised by the half-time break, as they came storming out of the blocks in the second half, and were soon two more tries to the good within a matter of minutes.  First a strong carry by the Myreside number eight led to him breaking a few tackles before eventually being felled on the five-metre line, only for a great supporting line by the ‘Sonians' tighthead prop to be rewarded with the easiest of finishes underneath the posts.  Not even a minute later and the Watsonians pack were at it again.  This time Watsonians’ lock walked through a non-existent Ayr midfield, again being brought down just before the line and as the ball was recycled it was the number eight’s turn to get the easy finish.  Both tries were converted by Harris and the scoreline all of a sudden looked an ominous 15-29 in favour of the boys from Myreside.

However, as is true to form, Ayr were not one for lying down and accepting defeat.  The frantic start to the second half continued and with plenty sore ‘Sonians bodies on the ground, replacement scrum-half Sam Graham darted round the side of a ruck untouched to score under the posts.  Hunter duly converted and just like that we had a game on our hands again.  22-29

Watsonians began to build some serious pressure on the Ayr line, but similar to the scenes in the early part of the first half, huge Ayr defence kept them at bay and turned the ball over.  However, this monumental rearguard was breached through some clever running lines by the Watsonians’ winger and a great piece of ingenuity by the Watsons’ fly-half who hacked the ball on as an offload went to deck and had the simplest of touchdowns directly underneath the posts.  Harris converted the try to give ‘Sonians a two-try buffer once again.  22-36.

A missed penalty opportunity to put the Myreside men out of sight, along with the substitution of the hugely influential Harris, galvanised the Ayr boys into one final assault.  A scrum won against the head deep in the Watsonians twenty-two allowed Fenwick to grab his second of the game, and with a hurried conversion sailing over, the belief began to spread back through the team.

Unfortunately indiscipline let the team down, as some back-chat turned a long range penalty into a far easier one, which the replacement scrum-half converted, to move Watsonians ten points - and crucially two scores - ahead.

This game was far from over, however, and with time fast running out, another huge Ayr scrummage on the Watsonians line led to Fenwick grabbing a well deserved hat-trick, and bringing the scores within five.  The try was unconverted and so a penalty would no longer bring the sides level.  Ayr had to go for the try.

After minutes of sustained pressure, Ayr were held up in a maul, and from the resulting scrum the ball was booted from the park ending what was a great game of rugby.  In the end the relentless carrying of an experienced Watsonians pack, well marshalled by the ever-present Harris, proved to be the deciding factor in the tightest of games. 

There were notable performances from Ayr openside Craig Brown, whose game was unfortunately cut short through injury, and Archie Russell, who looked a constant menace to the Watsonians backline.

Man of the match: Ali Harris (Watsonians).

- Matt Horsman.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Ayr 31 Currie 8

Five tries by Ayr helped them see off Currie, secure a bonus point and sneak back to the top of the BT Premiership table.

It was a beautiful autumn day in Alloway but it wasn't the best start for the home team as Currie's Joe Reynolds got his side on the scoreboard first with a penalty.  0-3.

Early wobbles at the line-out for Ayr didn't help and neither did some knocks-on.  But they were strong in defence, with hooker James Malcolm, second row Blair Macpherson and centre Robbie Fergusson leading the way with some mighty tackles.

Stand-off Frazier Climo and captain Ross Curle began to pull the strings and got Ayr organised in the attack.  But a string of penalties by both teams, followed by some dull kicking, threatened to kill off the game before it had really begun.

Just as Currie looked to be on to something, Climo zoomed on to a long pass and raced away for an interception try which he converted himself.  7-3.

Ayr were heading for another score as Currie spilled the ball at the line-out and prop Javan Sebastian scooped it up.  They went through the phases, but even a couple of penalties by Currie and some hefty scrums by Ayr couldn't get the Millbrae men over the line again.

It was a bit frustrating to watch from the sidelines, but the players showed patience when it mattered.  Wingers Haddon McPherson and Cameron Taylor got things going before an excellent break by Fergusson, with Curle in support, allowed full-back Grant Anderson to fly over for a try.  Climo couldn't convert.  12-3.

A deft little kick and catch by McPherson got some oohs and aahs from the crowd, before man of the match George Hunter went into bulldozing mode and Fergusson jinked his way round the Currie defence.  A stray boot went flying out of a ruck and landed on the touchline - later to be retrieved by Currie hooker Matt Goodwin - as the two sides scrapped it out.

Currie took heart from some solid play and second row Stephen Ainslie galloped off before being reined in by Ayr flanker Graham Fisken.  Reynolds was on the canter next, but unfortunately threw the ball to no-one.

The second half began in the same ragged fashion but Currie backs Matt McPhillips and Harvey Elms looked dangerous with ball in hand.  They just couldn't keep a hold of it, and before they knew it, Ayr number eight Pete McCallum had burst forth on an impressive break that is fast becoming his trademark.  Curle took a lovely pass, patted away a defender and glided over for the try.  Climo converted.  19-3.

Ayr's back row were having a good day, and there was excellent work at the breakdown by flanker Will Bordill.  The scrum was going well too and when they got themselves into an advantageous position thanks to a Currie infringement, a huge shove saw McCallum break free and burrow over for Ayr's bonus-point try and his sixth score in seven games.  Climo easily kicked the wide conversion.  26-3.

Currie got their forwards into gear and, led by their tenacious captain Ross Weston, slowly but surely gained territory.  It was fitting that hard-working Weston rumbled over for the try.  Reynolds' conversion attempt was wide.  26-8.

A small scuffle broke out as both sides became frustrated at mistakes at the set pieces but this was soon forgotten as replacement hooker Lewis Anderson settled Ayr's line-out.  Although they were quick to get to Currie's five-metre line, Ayr couldn't go any further.

Replacement backs Richard Dalgleish and Danny McCluskey were on the look out for something, but it was a quick tap-and-go from scrum-half Ali Price which got Ayr back into Currie's half.  He sliced his way through the defence to offload to McPherson, who had Curle on his shoulder, and the captain got his second try of the day.  He couldn't convert his own score though.  31-8.

There were some final attempts from Currie's backs to get another try, and Weston was again working hard, but McCluskey and replacements Steven Longwell and Lee Scott put in some tough tackles to stop them.  Fisken had another break too but there were no more scores.

It was a patchy performance in places, but Ayr again showed maturity to overcome their errors and get the win.  They lead the BT Premiership by a point, with Melrose right behind them.  Ayr visit Selkirk next week, with an early kick-off of 1.30pm, and will try to hold off the threat of Borderers on the field and the league table.

Final score: Ayr 31 Currie 8.

- Elena Hogarth.

Photos by Jim Gemmell.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Ayr v Currie preview

After last week's break, Ayr get back to BT Premiership business at Millbrae, where they will welcome Currie on Saturday.

Ayr are currently second in the league, after Heriot's toppled them when they beat Boroughmuir last Friday night.  Currie lie in seventh, but can by no means be underestimated.  They have some very dangerous backs who have caused Ayr no end of trouble over the past few seasons, and a solid set of forwards, led by number eight and captain Ross Weston.

'Matches against Currie have always been close affairs and we expect much the same this weekend,' says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester.  'The players are refreshed after a week off and looking forward to the match.'

In the squad, Blair Macpherson partners Robert McAlpine in the second row in place of the unavailable Scott Sutherland, with Graham Fisken coming into the back row.

George Hunter starts at loosehead after several impressive performances from the bench.

Robbie Fergusson returns at outside centre, with captain Ross Curle moving to the inside berth.

It's an earlier kick-off of 2pm, with the 2nd XV's match against Watsonians 2nd XV kicking off at 1pm.  We hope to see everyone in the clubhouse for the live screenings of the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals between Wales and South Africa (4pm) and France and New Zealand (8pm).

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Haddon McPherson, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Ross Curle (c), 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. Alistair Price; 1. George Hunter, 2. James Malcolm, 3. Javan Sebastian; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Blair Macpherson; 6. Graham Fisken, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum.

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. Steven Longwell, 18. D'arcy Rae, 19. Richard Dalgleish, 20. Danny McCluskey.

15. Blair Kinghorn; 14. Fidias Efthymiou, 13. Matt McPhillips, 12. Joe Reynolds, 11. Harvey Elms; 10. James Semple, 9. Charlie Shiel; 1. John Cox, 2. Matt Goodwin, 3. Alistair Hamilton; 4. Alexander Heather, 5. Stephen Ainslie; 6. Travis Brooke, 7. Thomas Gordon, 8. Ross Weston (c).

16. Paul Mundell, 17. Graeme Carson, 18. Luke Crosbie, 19. Richard Sneddon, 20. Robbie Nelson.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Ayr RFC youth section in the Herald

Ayr RFC development officer Stuart Fenwick spoke to the Herald this week about the ever-growing numbers playing youth rugby at the club.

Ayr are currently thriving in the new President's Conference and the South Ayrshire Schools Conference, which launched last month, is going from strength to strength.

Read the full article here.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Full house at Millbrae to watch Scotland

Over a hundred people enjoyed beer, burgers and a dramatic Scotland win at Millbrae on Saturday.

The Rugby World Cup match against Samoa was broadcast live on three big screens, complete with surround sound, in the clubhouse and we welcomed faces old and new for the day.

The delicious gourmet beef burgers topped with pulled pork were expertly provided by All Out Catering, and everyone was entertained by a wonderful Welsh male voice choir.  

Thank you to everyone who attended and created such a brilliant atmosphere.

Next Sunday, we're hoping to welcome everyone back to watch the last two RWC quarter-finals.  Get to Millbrae for 1pm to watch Ireland v Argentina before Scotland take on Australia at 4pm.  This time round, pies will be available from the clubhouse kitchen.

The first two quarter-finals will of course be broadcast in the clubhouse on Saturday after Ayr's BT Premiership match against Currie, which kicks off at 2pm.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Huge amount raised at Ladies' Day

Saturday 26th September's Ladies' Day at Millbrae raised over £2500 for Connor's Journey.

Connor Hughes is a young man who was left a quadriplegic after injuring his spinal cord during a rugby match for Stirling University in 2014 and the funds raised will go towards his treatment and care.

The bi-annual event is organised by Ayr RFC committee member Eilidh Goodwin and this season's first lunch was held in a marquee at Millbrae with three hundred ladies attending.

So many individuals and local companies donated raffle prizes and must be thanked for their generosity.

The club thanks Eilidh and her assistants Sarah Sharkey, Gemma Swankie and Alison Craig for the huge effort they put into organising such a great event.

The next Ladies' Day will be held in February or March next year, but only 170 places will be available.  So please get in touch with Eilidh on 07879 671272 or to make sure you don't miss out.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Heriot's 25 Ayr 29

It was a mature performance from Ayr that saw them beat undefeated league leaders Heriot's at Goldenacre and top the BT Premiership.

The visitors gave away a few early penalties, one within range of the posts which Heriot's scrum-half Graham Wilson easily kicked.  3-0. 

Winger Haddon McPherson, fly-half Frazier Climo and flanker Blair Macpherson shifted play into Heriot's half long enough to get a chance at goal when the home team strayed off-side.  Climo missed the kick though.

Prop Steven Longwell went on the charge and captain Ross Curle made metres, but Ayr were later off their feet at a ruck.  Another penalty quickly followed and was kicked by Wilson.  6-0.

Moments later though and Heriot's were in danger and as they tried to clear their lines, winger Cameron Taylor charged down the kick and chased the ball over the line to ground it for the first try.  Climo converted.  6-7.

Ayr couldn't cope with Heriot's strength at the scrum, giving away a penalty that again saw them end up back in their own half.  A good line-out by Heriot's released speedy full-back Charles Simpson and he blasted his way to the line.  He couldn't make it through the Ayr defence at one side, and neither could second row Roan van Heerden, but his team stayed patient to send him over at the other side.  Wilson got the tricky conversion.  13-7.

Ayr were still making mistakes and showing moments of indecision, but the difference this week was the reaction.  When scrum-half Ali Price's kick was blocked, Longwell was on hand to scoop up the ball, which led to a brilliant break by Macpherson.  Price was on his shoulder and took the pass well to fly under the posts for the try.  Climo got the extras.  13-14.

There were further set-piece wobbles for Ayr, but handling errors by Heriot's meant they couldn't capitalise.  Ayr had a scrum in front of their own posts but were steady despite a huge shove by the hosts, and number eight Pete McCallum put his foot on the gas to charge forty metres.  Centre Danny McCluskey was in support and Curle chipped ahead.  Heriot's got there first but knocked on.

Heriot's were pinged for not releasing moments later and Climo booted over the penalty.  13-17.

Another break by McCallum and a beauty of a pass to McCluskey got Ayr back into Heriot's half but the ball went forward in the tackle.

Despite the overall high quality of play, the match was briefly afflicted by some horrible kicking from both teams before Ayr decided to keep ball in hand and barge their way up the pitch.  Longwell was tackled without the ball and some back-chat from Heriot's saw them marched back ten metres.

Ayr took the line-out but knocked on and were then penalised at the scrum.  A Heriot's line-out on Ayr's five-metre line let winger Harry Boisseau sneak over in the corner and Wilson again got the conversion from a devilish angle.  20-17.

The second half began with Richard Dalgleish replacing Climo and Graham Fisken and George Hunter on for Will Bordill and Javan Sebastian respectively, all of whom had put in a tough shift.

Heriot's captain Jack Turley made an exciting break and Simpson again scythed his way into Ayr's twenty-two.  Ayr turned over before Heriot's turned over and then knocked on, but they took the scrum against the head and attempted a drop goal which drifted wide.

Again, as the line-out went awry, Ayr didn't panic.  Errors from Heriot's helped their cause, but some strong running from McPherson, Longwell and hooker James Malcolm got them out of their own half.  They settled at the line-out, with second rows Scott Sutherland and Robert McAlpine anchoring their team as they so often do.  McCallum made for the line, looking for his sixth try in six matches, but couldn't quite make it.

Ayr pressed on after a scum and a line-out and it was Longwell who burrowed over.  Curle took over kicking duty and got the conversion.  20-24.

There was a breathless period of play that saw Ayr gain and lose possession several times.  Simpson slipped through tackles to get the crowd on their feet and passed to number eight Jason Hill who charged off.  But Price did well to track him down, haul him to the ground, grab the ball and chip and chase.  The ball bobbled out but Heriot's dropped it at the ensuing line-out and Macpherson pounced for the bonus-point try.  Curle missed the conversion.  20-29.

It got a bit messy as Ayr were desperate to build on their lead and Heriot's were determined to get more points on the board.  McPherson was wriggling out of tackles, Curle chasing down kicks and Macpherson doing forward rolls but they knocked on before they could get to the try-line.

Hill and flanker Struan Dewar showed great hands to get Heriot's going and a drive from a line-out let second row Russell Nimmo score a try.  Wilson couldn't get this conversion though.  25-29.

Ayr's restart wasn't ten metres but they coped at the scrum on half-way and turned over.  Heriot's regained possession but were pinged for holding on and this allowed Ayr to hunker down for a sustained period of pick-and-go.

The stutters at the set pieces returned for Ayr but again they remained calm.  Simpson shot off but Dalgleish appeared out of nowhere to drag him down and force a knock-on.

It was a tense final minute as Heriot's tried their best to turnover.  But Ayr stayed cool and collected under pressure and booted the ball off the park for a hard-fought win.

Ayr lead the BT Premiership by just a point, but with Heriot's and Boroughmuir having a game in hand and Melrose lying in second, it's going to be a battle for supremacy.

Final score: Heriot's 25 Ayr 29.

- Elena Hogarth.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Glasgow University v Ayr Ladies preview

After a Sunday off from competition last week, Ayr Ladies are back in action this weekend when they travel to Garscube to take on Glasgow University in the BT Women's National League Division 1.

The home team will be desperate for a win after three losses in a row, so the ladies in pink and black are going to have their hands full.  But a heartening win against Aberdeenshire Quines two weeks ago has boosted Ayr and now third in the league table, they will hope to challenge Broughton and Stewartry Sirens who precede them in the standings.

This season's squad is continually growing and the team that will turn out against Glasgow University on Sunday is an encouraging mix of youth and experience.

Ayr Ladies:
15. Sammie Morrison; 14. Connie Griffiths, 13. Lauren McBride, 12. Laura Turner, 11. Erin McSorley; 10. Catherine Shennan, 9. Emily Irving; 1. Michelle Nelson, 2. Lisa Croniken, 3. Louise McLauchlan; 4. Zoe Montgomerie, 5. Phoebe McDowall; 6. Rachael Mulholland, 7. Daryl Paterson, 8. Sarah Paterson.

16. Ashleigh Nelson, 17. Lynda Morgan, 18. Alice Allan, 19. Kelsey Swift, 20. Nattalie Rooney, 21. Shona McHarg.

Kick-off 2pm!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Heriot's v Ayr preview

Ayr travel to Edinburgh to take on Heriot's at Goldenacre in the BT Premiership on Saturday afternoon.

Heriot's have continued their excellent form from last season and, having started their current league campaign a week later than Ayr, come into this fixture with four wins in a row under their belt.  

Ayr's nine-try haul against Stirling County last week will have given the men in pink and black a huge boost but head coach Calum Forrester knows an even stronger performance from his side is crucial this week.

'We have played well in spells over the last couple of weeks but we will need to tighten up our defence against a dangerous Heriot's side that has the ability to score from anywhere.'

Ayr are bolstered by the return from suspension of full-back Grant Anderson, as well as Will Bordill's reinstatement in the back row after injury.  

Last week's hat-trick hero George Hunter steps off the positional merry-go-round and features on the bench in his usual place of prop.  Graham Fisken and Richard Dalgleish also rejoin a speedy-looking list of replacements.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Haddon McPherson, 13. Ross Curle (capt), 12. Danny McCluskey, 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. Alistair Price; 1. Steven Longwell, 2. James Malcolm, 3. Javan Sebastian; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum.

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. George Hunter, 18. Graham Fisken, 19. Archie Russell, 20. Richard Dalgleish.

Kick-off 3pm.  Follow the 1st XV scores live on Twitter and the 2nd XV scores via the Ultimate Rugby app.