Sunday, 13 December 2015

Ayr 20 Heriot's 8

Ayr made their final home fixture of 2015 count as they beat Heriot's to stretch their lead at the top of the BT Premiership to eight points with a game in hand.

They began at a canter, turning over from the kick-off and prop Javan Sebastian galloping away into Heriot's half before second row, and man of the match, Greg Peterson scored on his debut.  Climo added the extras.  7-0.

It was a false dawn though as what had been expected to be a cracker of a match between the league leaders and the chasers became a bit of a slog of handling errors, infringements and moments of indiscipline.

Passages of play were still compelling though, with Sebastian leading the charge for Ayr along with number eight Pete McCallum, flanker Blair Macpherson, centre Ross Curle and winger Haddon McPherson.

McPherson put in an absolutely thumping tackle on an unsuspecting Heriot's attacker who probably thought he could swat aside the slight-looking back.  His efforts left him crumpled on the try-line, but he got up and carried on for a spell before he was replaced by Peterson's Glasgow Warriors team-mate Junior Bulumakau.
The visitors were getting the better of Ayr at the scrums and managed to steal a few line-outs before scrum-half Graham Wilson booted over a penalty in front of the posts.  7-3.

Huge hits by the likes of flanker Andrew Dunlop, second row Scott Sutherland and stand-off Frazier Climo and a line-out steal and break by prop George Hunter gave the crowd something to cheer about, and they were roaring when it looked like Ayr had got over the try-line only to be held up.  But they knocked on after the ensuing five-metre scrum and were then penalised at Heriot's scrum.

Craig Gossman, on his first appearance in seven months after battling back from a serious knee injury, was springing about all over the place, remarkably pristine-looking, despite the muddy conditions.
He leapt into action when a Heriot's clearance kick sailed over his head, managing to keep it in play by patting it to scrum-half David Armstrong.  He got it to the other side of the pitch where Climo was ready with the cross-field kick for Gossman but it went just too far.

Heriot's snaffled Ayr's line-out again and Wilson hoisted a huge kick which Armstrong brilliantly took, propelling himself up above half the Heriot's team.  Ayr were working hard but again the handling errors spoiled any scoring chances.

The visitors were marauding at the start of the second half but Climo managed to get Ayr right down into their half with a huge kick for the corner.  They knocked on again though.
Gossman, Armstrong, Bulumakau and Peterson moved the ball side-to-side but couldn't get through the Heriot's defence.

Ayr were helped when Heriot's winger Max Learmonth found himself in the sin bin.  Climo tried a cross-field kick again and struck it perfectly for Bulumakau to spring on and score a fine try.  It was a wide conversion, but Climo got it.  14-3.

The sin bin got rather crowded when an unfortunate incident on the far touchline involving players from both sides going for a high ball resulted in full-backs Grant Anderson and John Semple getting a yellow card each.

Climo extended Ayr's lead with a successful penalty.  17-3.

Heriot's were pressing through flanker and captain Jack Turley but he was tracked down by a determined Macpherson.  It wasn't long until they got a penalty, took the line-out on Ayr's five-metre line and second row Russell Nimmo piled over for a try.  Wilson missed the conversion, perhaps due to Bulumakau charging at him.  17-8.
Climo was on good form with the boot, adding another penalty.  20-8.

It was the last score of the game, but it wasn't for want for trying by both teams.  Each was desperate to get more points and things became a bit fraught.  Ayr had to finish the match with fourteen men after Curle was sin-binned.

Heriot's fought their way over the try-line at one point but replacement forwards D'arcy Rae and Graham Fisken, amongst others, held them up.  They tried again as the clock ran down but gave away a penalty and Ayr booted the ball off the park.

Final score: Ayr 20 Heriot's 8.

- Elena Hogarth.

Photos by George McMillan.  

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