Sunday, 20 December 2015
Currie 31 Ayr 19
Despite early good work with ball in hand by centre Richard Dalgleish, prop D'arcy Rae, full-back Grant Anderson, winger Junior Bulumakau and number eight Pete McCallum, Ayr couldn't get anywhere and kicking away possession didn't help.
Currie were clearly full of Christmas cheer, and as soon as their stand-off James Semple scooped up the ball, he burst forth on an exciting break. It was full-back Blair Kinghorn, on impressive form all afternoon, who finished off the move to score the first try. Semple couldn't convert. 5-0.
But it wasn't long until Ayr replied. Flanker Graham Fisken whipped the ball away from the line-out and second rows Scott Sutherland and Greg Peterson barged their way through the defence before McCallum used all his strength to crash over the whitewash. Frazier Climo converted. 5-7.
Ayr got on a roll, with hooker Lewis Anderson scurrying away up the wing, only for his pass to be intercepted. It wasn't long until Bulumakau was doing the same after Peterson stole a Currie line-out. The Glasgow Warriors winger displayed tremendous strength and speed to fend off tackles and hare away for the try. It was too wide for Climo to convert. 5-12.
Currie got straight back into it, but Ayr put in the defensive hard yards, with scrum-half David Armstrong, prop Steven Longwell and replacement back Cameron Taylor on hand to repel Currie's attackers. The hosts were almost over the try-line but centre Fidias Efthymiou knocked on thanks to a crunching Ayr tackle.
A couple of scrums were exchanged before Ayr strayed offside and Semple lined up a long-range penalty and struck it perfectly. 8-12.
Ayr's line-out began to wobble while Currie's stayed strong, and they were getting too many opportunities thanks to more penalties being given away by the visitors. But the home side knocked on and Ayr held firm at the scrum in their own twenty-two before Climo shrugged off tacklers and raced away for a brilliant individual try. It looked like the conversion wouldn't go over in the strong breeze but a moment's gust helped the ball between the uprights. 8-19.
From that opening half-hour, despite the problems at the line-out and the penalty count, it would have been difficult to imagine that Ayr would score no further points, but that's what happened.
Semple kicked two penalties before half-time. 14-19.
Currie resumed the match at a canter, Kinghorn finding gaps in the Ayr defence before number eight and captain Ross Weston went over for a try, which Semple converted. 21-19.
Prop George Hunter, who replaced flanker Blair Macpherson, was doing his usual wrecking ball routine in the loose, but nothing was going Ayr's way. Even some excellent snaffling from McCallum couldn't be capitalised on, and things got worse when they were defending their own try-line and winger Craig Gossman ended up in the sin-bin.
A try by Currie seemed inevitable but it came cruelly. Ayr managed a turnover after some terrifically sturdy defence. A solid scrum followed, but as they tried to clear, the kick was charged down and the ball just stayed on the pitch long enough for Kinghorn to get to it. With Semple off injured, the young full-back took over kicking duty but couldn't convert his own try. 26-19.
A scintillating score by winger Ruaridh Smith, ripping the defence to ribbons, was the final nail in the coffin for Ayr. Kinghorn missed the conversion. 31-19.
The visitors tried to come back through breaks by Bulumakau, McCallum and the restored Gossman, but to no avail.
Captain Ross Curle had hobbled off early in the first half and having overcome a bash to the leg, returned for the final quarter. But not even his influence could get Ayr over the line for a fourth try and a bonus point.
The large crowd, so oddly quiet for most of the game as though not wanting to get too excited at the prospect of beating the league leaders, erupted as the ball was booted off the park to bring a fine game for the home team to an end.
Ayr still lead the BT Premiership by five points, and with the final three games of the league coming up in January, they will be putting all their energy into keeping a hold of the top spot going into the play-offs.
Final score: Currie 31 Ayr 19.