Sunday, 18 December 2016

Melrose 27 Ayr 10

The final game of 2016 brought disappointment for Ayr and their travelling fans as Melrose came out on top at the Greenyards to tighten their grip on the BT Premiership.

There were some early jitters for the home team, that confident, superior facade slipping slightly as they missed an early kick for touch after a penalty and later knocked on in the tackle.

Ayr were solid in the scrum, the front row of George Hunter, Pat MacArthur and Adam Prentice holding their own. From that first set-piece, Ayr flew off into attack, scrum-half David Armstrong dummying nicely before releasing Richard Dalgleish. The rangy winger couldn't escape the black and yellow defence.

Ayr flanker Will Bordill was shown a yellow card for a late tackle on Melrose's flashy stand-off Craig Jackson, but the home team couldn't capitalise on their man-advantage. Armstrong and captain Pete McCallum led Ayr's heroic defensive effort as Melrose pressed for the try-line, and they ended up knocking on.

Melrose's line-out was wobbling slightly but they managed to hunker down at the scrum and put Ayr under pressure with centre Danny McCluskey taking Bordill's place in the back row. But they couldn't shove Ayr right off the ball and Armstrong cleared.

Twice in succession Ayr second row Blair Macpherson turned over the home team, his second effort letting full-back Grant Anderson loose, with Hunter, stand-off Ross Curle, second row Robert McAlpine and Glasgow Warriors' flanker Adam Ashe - on his long-awaited return from injury - in support.

Curle put Ayr into the lead with a successful penalty. 0-3.

Jackson replied. 3-3.

Ayr had another attacking opportunity, but Melrose were just beginning to amp up the aggression and turned over. Full-back Fraser Thomson thought he was away but MacArthur had him pinned.

Ayr were working hard to get out of their own half and threaten Melrose, McCallum, McCluskey, McAlpine and Archie Russell trying to break through that tough Borders defence, but they just couldn't.

A quick tap-and-go launched Melrose's Austin Lockington up the wing and he was unstoppable. Jackson nailed the conversion. 10-3.

Ayr turned Melrose over, with Armstrong quickly firing the ball across the field for Hunter, MacArthur, Curle and Russell to try and breach the defence but there was a lengthy stoppage while Melrose's flanker Neil Irvine Hess was attended to by both medical teams. He was eventually stretchered off the field to warm applause from the fans, and we wish him a speedy recovery from his injury.

Curle lined up a penalty but it was unsuccessful.

Ayr showed their might at the scrum again, but Melrose still had plenty of attacking opportunities as the first half drew to a close. Lockington and prop Jamie Bhatti were marauding around but Ashe and Armstrong halted them.

Melrose gave away a penalty and Ayr took the line-out and drove. Armstrong, McCluskey, Hunter and Curle all went for the line, with MacArthur, Bordill and Russell going for it too, but Melrose turned over and cleared.

Jackson extended Melrose's lead just after the resumption. 13-3.

They were all over Ayr like a rash. McCluskey and winger Cameron Taylor hit some brilliant lines but Melrose smothered them.

The home team found themselves offside, and the resulting line-out allowed Armstrong and Taylor to make for the whitewash before Melrose blotted their copybook with another infringement.

Ayr's line-out worked well all afternoon and it gave them another attacking opportunity but Melrose's defence was immense. Ayr stayed calm, replacement James Malcolm grabbing a shaky pass to get the ball to Curle and Russell, who flew into the Melrose tacklers.

Hunter, Taylor, Macpherson and McCallum stayed strong in the face of the defensive barrage and it was the captain who eventually fought his way through for the try, Curle converting. 13-10.

Ayr showed real intent in their pursuit of a second try, McCluskey catapulting himself into attack, and Armstrong later flying on to a pass from Hunter at the line-out to try and get Curle and McCallum to the try-line.

But it wasn't enough against the tight, controlled Melrose. They were up and away into Ayr's half in no time. The men in pink and black regained possession, but they conceded a penalty for holding on.

Melrose took the line-out and were headed for another score when Bordill was yellow-carded for a second time for a professional foul. Two yellows make a red and Ayr's misery was compounded when Melrose hooker Russell Anderson got the try, which man-of-the-match Jackson converted. 20-10.

Down to fourteen men for the rest of the game, Ayr went on the attack, Armstrong, Malcolm and replacements Jamie Bova and Djustice Sears-Duru pushing on into Melrose's twenty-two. The ball was chipped for McCluskey to chase but it bobbled away from him.

Melrose, cheered on by their polite fans, could sniff the victory and bossed their way back into Ayr's half. The visitors went to thirteen men when Curle was sin-binned for a no-arms tackle, and only a meteorite landing on the Greenyards could have prevented Ruairi McLeod from scoring. Jackson completed his slick, showy performance by summarily converting. 27-10.

Time was up. Melrose celebrated their continued league supremacy and Ayr rued missed opportunities. The BT Premiership returns on Saturday 14th January, when Ayr welcome Boroughmuir to Millbrae.

Final score: Melrose 27 Ayr 10.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Melrose v Ayr preview

It's the last match of 2016 and it couldn't be a better one as Ayr travel to the Greenyards to play BT Premiership leaders Melrose, kicking off at 2pm.

Scotland's two best teams will go head-to-head at the historic ground, and with Melrose just one point above Ayr in the table, there's all to play for as the calendar year comes to a close.

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester predicts a 'physical encounter'.

'The game at Millbrae earlier this season was a close affair and we expect the same again.'

Forrester was pleased with his troops' fighting spirit last week when they rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat Hawick.

'The players showed real character to come away with the victory. We know that we cannot afford to find ourselves in a similar situation this Saturday against a dangerous Melrose side.'

There are some changes in the squad due to injuries, with Ross Curle moving from centre to stand-off to link up with David Armstrong. Danny McCluskey takes Curle's usual berth, with Richard Dalgleish and Cameron Taylor starting on the wings.

In the forwards, Glasgow Warriors' Adam Ashe makes his Ayr debut and his much-awaited return from injury, with his fellow Scotstoun man Pat MacArthur making up a dynamic front row with props George Hunter and Adam Prentice.

Robert McAlpine and Will Bordill both make welcome comebacks from injury.

James Malcolm and Djustice Sears-Duru have been released again by the Warriors and add to a powerful bench with youngsters Lewis Anderson and Stafford McDowall and the fleet-of-foot Jamie Bova.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Danny McCluskey, 11. Cameron Taylor; 10. Ross Curle, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Pat MacArthur, 3. Adam Prentice; 4. Blair Macpherson, 5. Robert McAlpine; 6. Adam Ashe, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. James Malcolm, 17. Djustice Sears-Duru, 18. Lewis Anderson, 19. Jamie Bova, 20. Stafford McDowall.

Kick-off 2pm for both the 1st and 2nd XV games. Follow the 1sts' live on Twitter and the 2nds' via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

MacArthur developing his own coaching style

Former Ayr player and current Glasgow Warriors hooker Pat MacArthur returned to Millbrae during pre-season to join the coaching team.

Pat, 29, played his first game for the Warriors in 2007 and after a two-year apprenticeship, became a full-time professional in 2009. He made his Scotland debut in 2013 and has gained six caps. From Prestwick, he played his rugby at Ayr from minis all the way up to the 1st XV, his most recent appearance in a pink and black shirt being this month when he started against Gala.

We talked to Pat about how he's been getting on coaching at Ayr RFC this season.

How did coaching at Ayr come about?
I always wanted to get into coaching, and after so many seasons of professional rugby, I felt like I had a lot of knowledge to impart. Ayr have given me so much in the past; growing up at the club and enjoying myself so much, I always wanted to go back to Millbrae to start my coaching journey.

What have you enjoyed about coaching so far?
I have enjoyed working with the players, who are all really willing to learn and improve. I've played with many of them in the past, and we manage to have a laugh whilst getting some really good work done at the set-piece and contact areas.

Did the fact that you knew those at Ayr make joining the coaching team easier?
Knowing Calum (Forrester, head coach) and Scott (Forrest, backs' coach) from the professional game means we have a lot of the same ideas and concepts on the rugby field.
Having old Glen Tippett (forwards' coach) around is great as his knowledge of the game and club is vast. Growing up playing alongside him, he taught me a lot about how to play rugby the old school way and we both like to pass that on to the younger boys at Ayr.

It is also good to see all the old, familiar faces at Millbrae on a regular basis, and that makes it all the more enjoyable.

Are you pleased with the way the season is going so far?
Ayr are doing well, and are aiming to win the league again. The BT Premiership is so competitive, and my aim is to help the forward pack and the team to become dominant, and the boys are buying into the way I like to play.

We play an attractive game of rugby, but I am a fan of the driving maul and set-piece battle, which is working well on the days that the weather is less than perfect!

Which coaches have inspired you?
I have worked under many coaches, so I have tried to use what I think are the good points from my experiences with them and base my coaching style on that.

I try and work with the Glasgow Warriors forwards' coach Dan McFarland, as he is a real stickler for detail and technique, which I like. I also try to get advice from former Ayr coach Kenny Murray. I am trying to develop my own style but getting advice and pointers from experienced coaches is a real help.

All photos courtesy of George McMillan.
Top: Pat MacArthur and Ayr prop George Hunter. Centre: Pat MacArthur, Ayr forwards' coach Glen Tippett and Ayr head coach Calum Forrester. Bottom: Pat MacArthur and Ayr strength and conditioning coach Jonathan Stevenson.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Charity at Christmas

While the men's senior players were collecting on behalf of the Beatson Cancer Charity on Saturday at Millbrae, Ayr Ladies have chosen the South Ayrshire Food Bank as their Christmas charity.

For the past month, the ladies have been gathering together an assortment of non-perishable items to donate to the food bank, as well as toiletries such as toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo and feminine products.

If you would like to contribute, you can hand in items to the ladies on their training night at Millbrae tonight (Monday) or Thurday from 7pm.

Ayr Ladies 38 Stirling County Ladies 0

Ayr Ladies powered past Stirling County at Millbrae on Sunday to climb to fourth in the BT Premier League.

The home team got off to a flying start, with strong running by prop Lauren Gunn and swift hands by winger Connie Griffiths to let centre Julie David fly away for the opening try. Stand-off Catherine Shennan just missed the wide-angled conversion. 5-0.

Ayr were dominant at the scrum throughout the match, and it provided the perfect attacking platform for number eight Rachael Mulholland, full-back Claire Law, centre Sammie Morrison and winger Erin McSorley.

County had a good share of possession early on and their backs hit some great lines, whilst their forwards muscled into the breakdown, and Ayr were kept busy in defence, David, hooker Lisa Croniken, captain Laura Turner and second rows Louise McLauchlan and Phoebe McDowall putting in crunching tackles.

The visitors made for Ayr's try-line, but flankers Emily Irving and Kelsey Swift and scrum-half Rachel Morrison pushed back the attack and Ayr gained a penalty.

From the line-out, Shennan and Turner marauded through the first wave of Stirling defence, but there was no way through the second and Ayr kicked on. Stirling gathered and set off but a textbook tackle by Griffiths stopped them in their tracks.

Successive turnovers followed, with McLauchlan and Mulholland showing good hands, but Ayr kicked away possession only for County's kick to be charged down by Croniken.

It was another torrid time at the scrum for the visitors, and McDowall and Gunn worked together to release Mulholland. She headed for the line but couldn't make it. Moments later, after another scrum, Shennan and Turner combined and this time Gunn barged over for the try, which Shennan converted. 12-0.

Ayr's confidence was growing, and even when they made errors, they were quick to react. When Stirling collected spilled passes, Swift and Griffiths were on them in a flash, dragging down attackers.

David was in imperious attacking form, slicing through the defence with ease. Wonderful handling by Griffiths and Shennan allowed her to pick a brilliant line and zip under the posts for a try just before half-time, which Shennan converted. 19-0.

Ayr put their foot on the gas at the start of the second half, Morrison, Gunn, David and Hannah Mutton - on her debut - motoring up the pitch. But County stayed strong in defence and managed a few turnovers too.

They still couldn't cope with the Ayr scrum and were being shoved around at will. They could have been mentally beaten but they remained positive and many an Ayr attacking opportunity was snuffed out by doughty work in the tackle by County.

Ayr replacements Michelle Nelson and Sonia Liekens brought fresh legs and got stuck into defence when County reclaimed possession.

But Ayr were back on attack, even after giving away a penalty for a squint put-in at the scrum. Mulholland chipped on into Stirling's twenty-two, with David chasing, and she kicked on too, gathering for her hat-trick. Shennan converted. 26-0.

McSorley made two excellent breaks up the wing but they couldn't be capitalised on. After another scrum, Mulholland charged from the back and powered over for a much deserved try in the corner. Shennan couldn't add the extras. 31-0.

There was just time for one last attacking move, and Croniken and McDowall got it going before David scooped up the ball from her bootlaces and glided away for her fourth try of the day, which she converted herself. 38-0.

- Elena Hogarth.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Ayr 44 Hawick 41

Visitors at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum must have wondered what on earth was going on next door at 4.35pm on Saturday. The Millbrae faithful were in full voice, roaring on their players to a last-minute victory against Hawick in the BT Premiership.

With half of Hawick's team apparently topping up their tans in the Caribbean, there were some in the crowd who thought this would be a straightforward game. But there's no such thing when you're facing a club as proud and fiercely competitive as Hawick.

They were in attack-mode from the off, winger Wesley Hamilton flying up the touchline only to be dragged out of play by Ayr full-back Grant Anderson.

Nobody could get a hand on Hamilton's fellow winger Darcy Graham as, moments later, he ghosted through the Ayr defence for an impressive try. Hawick full-back Kirk Ford was in imperious form with the boot and converted. 0-7.

Ayr got down to some hard graft and it was Canadian prop Djustice Sears-Duru who barrelled through the green shirts and over the line for a try in the corner. Stand-off Frazier Climo couldn't manage the conversion. 5-7.
The home team began to build up some momentum, George Hunter - the prop in the second row - and David Young - the hooker in the back row - steamrollering through the opposition and centre Ross Curle hitting a lovely angle. But it was Climo's boot that nudged Ayr in front with a penalty. 8-7.

Curle was on the attack again after a fine break by winger Craig Gossman, with centre Archie Russell and captain Pete McCallum in support, but they got pinged for holding on and Hawick ended up with line-out after line-out.

Nothing came of it, despite the visitors getting into Ayr's twenty-two, as a melee broke out and spilled on to the sidelines. Once tempers had cooled, referee Ross Maben was left with no choice but to yellow-card Anderson and Hawick's diminutive scrum-half Bruce Campbell.

Hawick made for the line, but terrific defence by Ayr flanker Blair Macpherson, prop Steven Longwell and hooker James Malcolm repelled the first wave of attack before they turned over and cleared. The kick didn't make touch and Hawick quickly fired the ball to Graham but he couldn't get the score.

Old reliable Bruce McNeil could, the veteran Hawick number eight and captain lolloping over. It was another terrific conversion by Ford. 8-14.

Ford added a penalty when Ayr strayed offside. 8-17.

Hawick chipped away possession and Hunter, Russell, Macpherson and Curle fired through the defense but little errors were creeping in and the ball was knocked on. Hawick again kicked away the ball after the ensuing scrum and again a fine attack by Gossman, Anderson, winger Danny McCluskey and McCallum proved fruitless.
The home side and their fans were getting frustrated but they kept their cool. A Hawick knock-on gave them a scrum, with McCallum picking up, scrum-half Harry Warr's mis-pass finding Anderson and the full-back making scoring tries look easy. There were no easy kicks for Climo though and the try went unconverted. 13-17.

Ford extended Hawick's lead just before half-time with a penalty. 13-20.

The greens caught Ayr napping at the start of the second half, prop Callum Mackintosh bursting forth for a try converted by Ford. 13-27.

Ford was back at the tee moments later when Graham scored his second try. 13-34.

The fightback was immediate from Ayr, Hunter tearing through Hawick and McCluskey powering up the wing for a try. It was another wide angle for Climo but he got the conversion. 20-34.

And another try was on its way. Ayr held firm at the set-piece and launched themselves with gusto at the whitewash, McCallum scoring. Climo couldn't convert. 25-34.

Climo's kicking from hand confused Hawick and gave the line-out to Ayr. From one side to another the ball was propelled and Gossman put his foot on the gas for a try. Climo couldn't convert. 30-34.

Hawick weren't panicking but their over-enthusiastic determination was leading to infringements. When they wheeled the scrum, Ayr got the put-in, McCallum fed Gossman and the winger got his second try, with Climo adding the extras. 37-34.
There was a break in play after an accidental clash of heads between Gossman and Hawick replacement Sam Bandeen, with the latter having to leave the field.

Hawick then camped out on Ayr's five-metre line and after initially being held-up, they scored through second row Keith McNeil. Ford converted. 37-41.

There was still time for Ayr to fight back again. A forward charge, not to mention a huge shove at Hawick's scrum, got them into a great attacking position and Macpherson and McCallum led the way to the line. It was a good old muddy pile-up and the ball couldn't be retrieved to go for the line again.

But Ayr's sturdy scrum gave them another shot and after what seemed like a life-time, Russell glued his hands to the ball and didn't let go until he touched down for the try, greeted by one of the loudest roars heard at Millbrae in years. With Climo off, Curle converted practically from in the crowd. 44-41.
The whistle was blown to bring the final home game of 2016 to an end. Ayr have their last match of the calendar year next week against Melrose at the Greenyards, kicking off at 2pm.

Final score: Ayr 44 Hawick 41.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Pete McCallum.

- Elena Hogarth

Photos by George McMillan. Please seek permission before reproducing. 

Friday, 9 December 2016

Ayr v Hawick preview

It's the final home game of 2016 on Saturday as Ayr welcome Hawick for round thirteen of the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm at Millbrae.

The first encounter of the season between the two sides at Mansfield Park was a terrific spectacle and both will be giving it their all once again, Hawick to try and lift themselves from the bottom of the table and Ayr to catch up Melrose at the top.

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester knows that, despite Hawick's lowly placing in the league, his players will have to be at their best to get past the marauding greens.

'Hawick have been in good form in their last few outings, so will be coming to Millbrae full of confidence,' he says. 'We started well at Gala last week but we will need to keep that performance up for eighty minutes on Saturday.'

Injuries have forced changes to the squad and a shuffling of the pack. George Hunter starts in the second row alongside Ruaridh Mackenzie, whilst David Young is at openside flanker after a few appearances from the bench in the back row this season.

Glasgow Warriors' Djustice Sears-Duru and James Malcolm make up the front row with Steven Longwell. 

Harry Warr will be calling the shots at scrum-half after an assured debut earlier in the season. Danny McCluskey starts on the right wing.

Lewis Anderson and Robbie Smith take their place amongst the replacements. 

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Danny McCluskey, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Ross Curle, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. Harry Warr; 1. Djustice Sears-Duru, 2. James Malcolm, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Ruaridh Mackenzie, 5. George Hunter; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. David Young, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. Robbie Smith, 18. Craig Stevenson, 19. Richard Dalgleish, 20. Stafford McDowall.

Kick-off 3pm. If you can't be at Millbrae, follow the scores live on Twitter.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

First Ayr Rugby Academy yellow jerseys awarded

Ross Bulloch, Andrew Morrison and Michael Lafferty are the first recipients of the Ayr Rugby Academy yellow jerseys.

In recognition of dedication and determination at academy sessions, the jersey will be awarded every month.

Ross, Andy and Michael are pictured with Ayr RFC president Billy McHarg and Ayr Rugby Academy coaches Tony Hall, Harry Lynch and Frazier Climo.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Gala 28 Ayr 38

Trips to Netherdale are never short of incident, and a thick layer of mist blanketing the Borders ground only added to the drama as Ayr scored six tries to beat Gala in the BT Premiership.

It was a perfect start for the visitors as scrum-half David Armstrong retrieved the ball from the back of the scrum and scurried away up the wing, slipping through tackles to score in the corner. Stand-off Frazier Climo, unsurprisingly in the mist, couldn't convert. 0-5.

Ayr were leaking penalties though, and after a line-out from a kick to the corner for Gala came to nothing, their stand-off Gregor Hunter stepped up to the tee. The sticks were barely visible and he nudged it wide.

The ball was bizarrely punted around by both sides until Ayr had a line-out. With Glasgow Warriors and former Millbrae man (and current Ayr assistant coach) Pat MacArthur at hooker and assured work by second rows Ruaridh Mackenzie and Robert McAlpine, it was firing on all cylinders throughout the day.

Right winger Richard Dalgleish hit the ball at pace and weaved back in field to pass to number eight Pete McCallum, who sold a dummy before flicking the ball to centre Archie Russell, who found left winger Craig Gossman. He couldn't get to the line, and again Ayr gave away consecutive penalties.

Gala began to suffer from the same malady. Ayr took the line-out, drove for the line and were awarded the penalty try after Gala illegally prevented them from touching down, with Climo converting. 0-12.

With all these penalties, someone was bound to land in the sin bin, and it was Mackenzie for Ayr. Gala still couldn't capitalise on Ayr's repeated infringements, their kick to the corner going awry.

They had another chance after a high tackle by Ayr, but the visitors turned them over just after the line-out. Gala reclaimed possession only to kick it away and watch as the ball was gathered by Climo, who cantered through the tackles. He chipped on and centre Ross Curle scooped up the ball and scored. Climo's conversion hit the post. 0-17.

It got worse for the home team. Ayr poached their line-out ball before getting a penalty and taking a line-out of their own. They rumbled to the whitewash (the whole place was whitewashed at that point) and prop Steven Longwell got the ball down for the bonus-point try. Climo got the conversion. And all that after only twenty-five minutes. 0-24.

Ayr were on the hunt for more points, but Gala seemed to wake up with half-time looming, their scrum-half Connor Adams leading the charge. They fought their way into Ayr's half, and with the ball loose, hooker Matt Carryer pounced for a try. Hunter converted. 7-24.

The visitors started the final forty minutes the way they started the first, with a quick try. Mackenzie galloped through the maroon defence and replacement back Danny McCluskey gathered a Curle chip to race over the line. Climo added the extras. 7-31.

A twenty-four-point lead is nothing at Netherdale. Many a team, Ayr included, has seen a second-half resurgence from Gala and that was what happened. The mist lifted and so did the home side.

Winger Alex Northam made a beautiful break into Ayr's twenty-two. He kicked on, but it was Ayr's Dalgleish who grounded the ball.

Gala second row Rob Louw was yellow-carded, but that didn't dampen his team-mates' spirit. They were marauding about all over the place. In the end, they didn't need to cross the line as the referee adjudged Russell had illegally stopped Gala from scoring and awarded a penalty try, as well as sending the Ayr centre to the sidelines for ten minutes. Hunter converted for Gala. 14-31.

MacArthur was replaced by his fellow Warrior and one time Ayr hooker James Malcolm, who, along with his fellow substitutes, got stuck into action straightaway.

Ayr prop George Hunter and Mackenzie looked lively with ball in hand, but again those pesky penalties scuppered any opportunity for points. Gala's tails were up, and Hunter, flankers Will Bordill and Blair Macpherson and Djustice Sears-Duru (on for Longwell) had their hands full trying to contain them.

They couldn't contain replacement Craig Robertson as he powered up the wing for a try and Hunter converted superbly from out wide. 21-31.

With the dark descending and a cold wind blowing into the stand, that certainly perked up the loyal Gala fans. The cold seemed to be getting to the players too, as numb fingers fumbled passes.

Neither side was wavering in the tackle though, Ayr replacements Stafford McDowall and David Young felling Gala attackers with full-back Grant Anderson (at scrum-half for the most of the second half with Armstrong on the sidelines) following suit.

Ayr had to bide their time until they could secure possession with a turn-over just in their own half. Curle perfectly timed his offload to Gossman, who swerved through the defence and passed to McCallum, with the captain shooting off for a score behind the posts. Climo was off with a bloody face and Curle converted. 21-38.

There were just a few minutes left on the scoreboard clock - starting to look a bit fuzzy again with the mist reappearing - but Gala were undaunted. Swift passing allowed Northam to claim their bonus point try, which Hunter summarily converted. 28-38.

Could Gala come back? They were certainly going to give it a go, running the ball from their own twenty-two. But a forward pass didn't help. A knock-on by Ayr after the scrum gave them hope, but a thundering tackle by an Ayr player (lingering mist plus glaring floodlights plus winter darkness means your match reporter will not hazard a guess at whom) caused Gala to knock on too.

A few more seconds of toing and froing ensued before the referee brought the game to an end.

Final score: Gala 28 Ayr 38.

Over on the 2nd XV pitch (entirely obscured by mist, and without floodlights), Ayr beat Gala A 29-12, with tries by Craig Stevenson, Jamie Bova, Harry Warr and Paddy Dewhirst. The latter converted three and added a penalty. Lewis Anderson was the man of the match.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Gala v Ayr preview

The BT Premiership resumes after its three-week autumn break, and Ayr travel to Netherdale on Saturday to play Gala, kicking off at 3pm.

The players have used the league hiatus to take some well-earned time out from competitive matches but have been training well at Millbrae and are now keen to get back to action, and for one of this week's starting XV, it's a return almost six years in the making.

Glasgow Warriors and Scotland cap Pat MacArthur is named in Ayr's front row at hooker for the first time since he left his home club to become a professional. But he has been a frequent visitor to Millbrae, supporting his former team-mates and becoming an assistant coach this season.

MacArthur's fellow Warriors James Malcolm and Djustice Sears-Duru are amongst the substitutes and both have made welcome appearances for Ayr already this year.

Elsewhere in the squad, Ruaridh Mackenzie has his first start in the second row, and Danny McCluskey will be hoping to make his return from injury from the bench.

'It's good to be back after the November break,' says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester. 'It was a close encounter at Millbrae earlier in the season (between Ayr and Gala) and that has been the story of the last few years between the two clubs. We expect the same again this weekend.'

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Ross Curle, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. Pat MacArthur, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Ruaridh Mackenzie, 5. Robert McAlpine; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. James Malcolm, 17. Djustice Sears-Duru, 18. David Young, 19. Danny McCluskey, 20. Stafford McDowall.

Kick-off 3pm. Follow the scores live on Twitter.

Gala A v Ayr 2nd XV kicks off at 2pm, with live score updates available via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Pat MacArthur is pictured above with Stuart Fenwick and Gordon Reid. Photo courtesy of Rob Hardie of Touchline Images. Please seek permission before reproducing or sharing.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Former president TJ Inglis passes away

Everyone at Ayr RFC is saddened to learn of the death of former club president Tom Inglis last week.

Tom's funeral will take place on Friday 25th November. There will be a service at Helensburgh Parish Church at 10.45am, followed by a cremation at Cardross Crematorium at 12.15pm (for family only), and thereafter to Helensburgh Golf Club.

Our thoughts are with Tom's family and friends.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Ayr Ladies v Cartha QP Ladies preview

Ayr Ladies welcome Cartha QP Ladies to Millbrae on Sunday for their rearranged BT Premier League tie, kicking off at 2pm.

The home side will be targeting another win after a hard-fought victory over Stirling County last month and are looking forward to getting back into action following a few weeks' break.

The two teams know each other well, and Ayr will be ready for their tough opponents from the south side of Glasgow.

The ladies in pink and black are bolstered by the return from injury of Eilidh Thomson and Sammie Morrison, both of whom are on the bench in anticipation of what will be their first match in a very long time, over a year in Thomson's case.

Ayr Ladies
15. Claire Law; 14. Connie Griffiths, 13. Julie David, 12. Ann-Marie Connelly, 11. Erin McSorley; 10. Catherine Shennan, 9. Emily Irving; 1. Laura Turner (c), 2. Lisa Croniken, 3. Michelle Nelson; 4. Eilidh Stewart, 5. Joanne Jones; 6. Phoebe McDowall, 7. Kelsey Swift, 8. Rachael Mulholland.

16. Louise McLauchlan, 17. Eilidh Thomson, 18. Sammie Morrison, 19. Kirsty Wilson, 20. Rachael Waddell.

Kick-off 2pm!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Another successful Oval Ball

Last Saturday evening saw the 10th annual Oval Ball in aid of the Ayr Community Rugby Trust at Ayr Racecourse, and trustee Neil Howie was delighted with yet another successful event.

'On behalf of Ayr Community Rugby Trust, I would like to thank all those who attended the Oval Ball last week. Your support is greatly appreciated.

'My special thanks go to Glen Tippett and our principal speaker, development officer Stuart Fenwick, for outlining the good work the trust does in the community with youth rugby development in South Ayrshire.

'Stuart introduced his team of Frazier Climo, Catherine Shennan, Paddy Dewhirst, Tony Hall, Connie Griffiths and Harry Lynch, and I would like to thank each and every one of them for their efforts on behalf of the trust.

'The ball was a great success and raised £11,000. A significant part of that came from the auction and my sincere thanks go to Norrie Lymburn for conducting it in his unique and persuasive manner.

'My thanks go again to everyone who attended for your invaluable support and we hope to see you all at next year's Oval Ball.'

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Ali on the bench for Scotland

Scrum-half Ali Price has been named on the bench for Scotland for their autumn international against Australia on Saturday.

The 23-year-old joined Ayr last season before signing a full-time contract with Glasgow Warriors, and could gain his first international cap at the weekend.

Also amongst the substitutes is prop Gordon Reid, who could win his 19th cap for Scotland. Stand-off Finn Russell starts, gaining his 20th cap.

We wish Ali, Gordy, Finn and team-mates the best of luck!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Ayr 30 Heriot's 14

Ayr put in another dominant display to dispatch Heriot's at Millbrae and go into the three-week autumn break in a strong position in the BT Premiership.

Early on, the home team managed to turn defence into attack after the visitors' harrying backs launched themselves out of their own half. Quick thinking from the likes of centre Archie Russell and scrum-half David Armstrong snuffed out any attack and Ayr were back in possession.

Heriot's penalty count didn't help them and from a slick Ayr line-out - hooker David Young and second rows Robert McAlpine and Scott Sutherland were spot on - Armstrong fired the ball to winger Craig Gossman and he sailed away for the opening try. Stand-off Frazier Climo converted with ease. 7-0.

The visitors got into attacking mode again, but Climo, captain Pete McCallum, prop George Hunter and flanker Will Bordill had them swiftly contained.

A few kicks from hand by both sides didn't go to plan and Ayr centre Ross Curle found himself under one such effort; he collected, kicked and chased but to no avail.

Heriot's full-back Glenn Bryce was a menacing presence but he couldn't get through Ayr prop Steven Longwell. His front row team-mate Michael Liness next had a go, bursting up the wing, but didn't have the gas to get near the line.

Ayr's scrum was in commanding form, and both sets of forwards did well on the slippery surface.

The Millbrae men pushed on up the park through Bordill and Climo, and when they gained a penalty, Curle took it quickly and pounced over the line. Climo converted. 14-0.

Climo had an excellent day with the boot and soon added a penalty. 17-0.

A seventeen-point lead may look good on paper, but Heriot's were bound to come back, with their abundance of class and sophistication.

Bryce was the danger man again, appearing in mid-field, but Armstrong just got a hand to him and brought him down. The ball went loose, McCallum scooped it up and Climo kicked it out of harm's way.

It was brute force that got the visitors their score in the end, Liness driving over after a couple of line-outs. Stand-off Alex Hagart converted. 17-7.

There was tension between the teams and Armstrong received some unwanted attention from replacement George Turner, causing referee Lloyd Linton to give both a stern talking-to.

Ayr stretched their lead just before half-time with another Climo penalty. 20-7.

The home side turned up the power at the second half, flanker Blair Macpherson knocking Heriot's defenders out of his path like a bowling ball through skittles.

When Heriot's did have possession in the third quarter, they lacked urgency and Ayr turned over, full-back Grant Anderson more often than not getting his hands on the ball and muscling his way through flailing defenders.

Another good Ayr line-out from a penalty allowed Climo to perfectly time a pass to Curle, who stepped through a gap and cruised over for this second try. Climo converted. 27-7.

Heriot's were determined to get through the pink and black wall, and despite tackles by Longwell, replacement Craig Stevenson and Gossman, centre John Semple got their second try, with Hagart converting. 27-14.

Curle landed himself in the sin bin after a tackle on Semple, but Ayr stuck into defence and didn't leak any points during the ten minutes.

Another penalty by Climo after a high tackle on Gossman brought the final points of the game. 30-14.

But it wasn't over. Ayr brought on all their replacements in the last quarter, with a reshuffle in the forwards that saw Lewis Anderson scrum down at number eight. With Heriot's somehow short on a front row player for a period, scrums were uncontested until another prop appeared.

It didn't help them that their replacement Clarke Smith was yellow-carded for repeated infringements but Ayr couldn't take advantage.

They searched for the bonus-point try, but never found it. Still, when the final whistle went, Ayr were satisfied with another commanding performance that leaves them just a point behind league leaders Melrose.

The BT Premiership returns on Saturday 3rd December, with Ayr visiting Gala.

Final score: Ayr 30 Heriot's 14.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Ayr v Heriot's preview

It's the penultimate home game of the calendar year at Millbrae on Saturday as Ayr welcome Heriot's in the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm.

After two weeks of away games, Ayr will be glad of home comforts as they take on the much improved Goldenacre side who have overcome a shaky start to their assault on the league to scramble to fourth place in the table.

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester has been keeping an eye on the Edinburgh side's recent results.

"Heriot's have hit their form over the last month, coming into this match off the back of four consecutive wins."

But Ayr are buoyed by a tenacious win against Currie last Saturday.

"We (the coaching team) were pleased with the reaction from our players last week," said Forrester. "and we know that we will need to raise our performance again in order to get a result this weekend."

There is only one change to the starting line-up, with Blair Macpherson moving up from the bench to the blindside flanker spot.

Adam Prentice and Cameron Taylor return to the squad, taking their place amongst the substitutes.

With this the only fixture in November and just one more to follow at Millbrae in 2016 (Ayr v Hawick on Saturday 10th December), fans will be out in force, as they have been all season.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Ross Curle, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. David Young, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. Adam Prentice, 18. Craig Stevenson, 19. Cameron Taylor, 20. Stafford McDowall.

15. Glenn Bryce; 14. John Rae, 13. Josh Laird, 12. John Semple (c), 11. Gavin Parker; 10. Alex Hagart, 9. Andrew Simmers; 1. Gavin Cameron, 2. Michael Liness, 3. Rhuaridh Mitchell; 4. Callum Marshall, 5. Russell Nimmo; 6. Michael Maltman, 7. Jack McClean, 8. Struan Dewar.

16. George Turner, 17. Struan Cessford, 18. Clarke Smith, 19. Tom Wilson, 20. Ewan Fox.

Kick-off 3pm! Follow the scores on Twitter.

Ayr 2nd XV v Heriot's 2nd XV kicks off at 2pm at Rozelle. You can follow the scores via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Blair wins POTM

Blair Macpherson has been voted the October 2016 player of the month, securing 25% of the online vote.

The speedy back row has scored eight tries in the last ten games. He was previously player of the month in August/September 2014.

Blair receives a £50 Slaters Menswear voucher.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

October POTM poll open

The October player of the month poll is now open!

Last month's was jointly awarded to flanker Gregor Henry and scrum-half David Armstrong. Who wins the £50 Slaters Menswear voucher is up to the public vote as always.

The poll closes on Thursday at 12pm, with the winner announced shortly after.

Vote here.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Currie 32 Ayr 41

After last week's defeat to Watsonians, Ayr head coach Calum Forrester said his players would pick themselves up for a tricky encounter with Currie, and that is exactly what they did, running in five tries in a solid, confident performance in the BT Premiership.

Currie at Malley Park has been Ayr's banana skin fixture for the past few years, the hosts seemingly always able to unsettle the visitors and sneak a win. But not on Saturday.

Ayr got off to a flying start, flanker Will Bordill crashing over for a try from a line-out, and stand-off Frazier Climo, who didn't miss a kick all afternoon, converting. 0-7.

But danger lay ahead, with Currie's marauding backs putting the Ayr defence under pressure. Second rows Scott Sutherland and Robert McAlpine were busy all afternoon, putting in the hits.

Currie centre Robbie Nelson made a brilliant break, but the home team's chip ricocheted off an Ayr player and was gathered and cleared.

There was a substitution for Ayr, with hooker David Young going off and Lewis Anderson taking his place.

Currie put their foot on the gas, racing up the wing, with captain and number eight Ross Weston scoring. Stand-off James Bywater missed the conversion. 5-7.

Ayr got themselves back into Currie's twenty-two, captain Pete McCallum breaking from the back of the scrum, with scrum-half David Armstrong whipping the ball to Climo who sent a long, curving pass to full-back Grant Anderson. He found Craig Gossman on the wing, who had to step back in to avoid being shoved into touch.

They didn't reach the try-line, but Climo lined up a penalty and got it. 5-10.

Bywater replied moments later when Ayr were pinged for holding on. 8-10.

Currie had three line-outs in a row, but a knock-on gave Ayr a scrum. Gossman slipped the tackles, flipping the ball to Armstrong who juggled it before passing to Climo. A delayed pass just before the five-metre line ended up in Currie hands.

They didn't have long to wait for another score though, as Bordill repeated his earlier feat of launching himself over the whitewash after a line-out. Climo converted. 8-17.

Currie kept in touch with another penalty by Bywater. 11-17.

Grant Anderson made another break before Ayr got a penalty and took the line-out. Sutherland got his hands on the ball, pirouetted through a gaping hole in the Currie defence and went over for the try. Climo added the extras. 11-24.

The set pieces were working well for Ayr, and Lewis Anderson bashed through the tackles after a line-out, with Bordill, Climo, centre Ross Curle and Climo appearing again in support before Grant Anderson cruised over for the try. Climo converted just before half-time. 11-31.

Climo opened the second half with a penalty. 11-34.

Currie were coming back into the game though, Lewis Anderson and centre Archie Russell having their hands full trying to stop former Ayr player Fergus Scott.

Ayr made a substitution, with Blair Macpherson replacing flanker Ruaridh Mackenzie.

The hosts had a good amount of possession but they were labouring to the line and Ayr managed to repel their attack, securing a penalty. Unfortunately, Currie flanker Thomas Gordon intercepted after the line-out and Weston rumbled away with the ball.

A penalty for Currie gave them a line-out and after some patient play, Nelson got over for the try, with Bywater converting. 18-34.

There was a nail-biting period for Ayr fans as Russell landed himself in the sin bin, and Currie winger Cameron Gray flew over in the corner for a try. It was a wide conversion but Bywater nailed it. 25-34.

Currie had a spring in their step, and roared on by the home crowd, they looked like they were about to score another, only to be called back for a forward pass.

They came back again, relentlessly pushing for the try-line until Ayr prop Steven Longwell put in a tremendous tackle to cause a knock-on.

Ayr got a penalty from the scrum, and a good line-out allowed Armstrong, Curle and winger Richard Dalgleish to press on into Currie's half before Lewis Anderson burst through the defence at a gallop.

Another penalty line-out didn't go so well, as the throw-in was deemed not straight, and it happened again after Currie cleared. It didn't hinder Ayr too much, as Armstrong and Climo had any attackers well wrapped up.

Grant Anderson was under a Currie kick and flew off with McCallum, Climo, Macpherson, Bordill, Gossman, prop George Hunter and Curle in support. The thud from the tackles put in by Currie could be heard in the stand, and Armstrong chipped over the defence for Gossman to chase.

The winger couldn't take it, but another powerful scrum by Ayr got everyone in on the act, the entire team making for the line at one point or another. Climo put in a cross-field kick for Dalgleish but it was unsuccessful.

Ayr had the advantage though and took another scrum, and just as they were headed for the line, Currie scrum-half Richard Sneddon stuck out a paw and was dismissed for ten minutes for a deliberate knock-on.

From the scrum, McCallum broke away and popped the pass to Climo, who muscled his way over for the try, which he easily converted. 25-41.

Currie had the final say, winger Ben Robbins scoring and full-back Harvey Elms converting. 32-41.

The win means Ayr are still in second place on level points with leaders Melrose in the BT Premiership table, and they will look to back up the victory against Heriot's at home next week.

Final score: Currie 32 Ayr 41.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Currie v Ayr preview

Ayr have their second away game in a row on Saturday as they head back east to Edinburgh to play Currie in the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm.

The competition is now in its second half, and with Ayr on equal points with league leaders Melrose, they will be focused on some strong showings in the run-up to Christmas.

Ayr beat Currie's young guns 53-10 in the first game of the season at Millbrae in August, but the Balerno-based side has matured over the weeks and the players always lift themselves for home fixtures at the picturesque Malleny Park.

The Ayr coaching team of Calum Forrester, Glen Tippett and Scott Forrest have had a good week of training with their charges.

"Our players can't wait to get back on the pitch following last week's disappointment, so it's set to be a cracker on Saturday," says Forrester.

The Ayr squad is boosted by the return from injury of the influential Ross Curle, Frazier Climo and Will Bordill, with George Hunter moving back to his usual spot in the front row.

15. Grant Anderson; 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Ross Curle, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. David Armstrong; 1. George Hunter, 2. David Young, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Ruaridh Mackenzie, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Pete McCallum (c).

16. Lewis Anderson, 17. Robbie Smith, 18. Blair Macpherson, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Stafford McDowall.

Kick-off 3pm for both 1st and 2nd XVs. Follow the scores live on Twitter (1st XV) and the Ulitmate Rugby app (2nd XV).

Monday, 24 October 2016

Ayr Ladies 5 Murrayfield Wanderers 77

Ayr Ladies were run ragged by BT Premier League leaders Murrayfield Wanderers at Millbrae on Sunday, but once again the women in pink and black didn't lack team spirit.

It was a cold day in Alloway despite the sunshine, and hands quickly began to numb for both sets of players, knocks-on featuring from the off.

The visitors held on to the ball long enough to head for the line, but Ayr organised the defence well and pushed them back. There was then a pause as an injured Wanderer was helped from the field.

It didn't affect them, as they again made for the whitewash and, despite the attentions of winger Erin McSorley and full-back Claire Law, got an unconverted try. 0-5.

Ayr held firm at the scrum and harried Wanderers but as soon as they got out of their own half, the Edinburgh side turned over and were away. Ayr had some turnovers of their own, with centre Julie David linking well with McSorley, but a pass was deemed forward.

The home back row of Kelsey Swift, Rachel Morrison and Rachael Mulholland was putting in textbook crunching tackles, but Wanderers eased to four tries in quick succession. 0-31.
Another converted score followed. 0-38.

Swift continued to put in a tremendous defensive display that belied her size, with captain Laura Turner and prop Louise McLauchlan closing down the visitors too. 

When Ayr did get their hands on the ball, Morrison, centre Catriona Cowan, McSorley, Swift, replacement Lynda Morgan, scrum-half Emily Irving and Mulholland whipped it from one side of the pitch to the other. 

Wanderers leaked a penalty and Law was off, her fast feet and low body position helping her to elude the tackles, but she was bundled into touch before she could reach the line.

Ayr gave away a penalty themselves and an unconverted try followed for the visitors. 0-43.

The home team had another crack at the line, Turner hitting the ball at pace but also hitting a Murrayfield wall of defenders.

They didn't stop though, Morrison slicing through the red and white shirts and chipping over the top for David to chase. Possession changed hands as both teams looked to run everything, but those handling errors scuppered any free-flowing play.

It was the experienced Wanderers who coped better with the mistakes, and they scored just before half-time. 0-48.
Ayr started the second half with another sturdy scrum, but Wanderers were dominating the breakdown and soon turned over to race away for a converted try. 0-55.

It was going to be a very long final forty minutes if Ayr became downcast, but they didn't. Swift led the way, ripping the ball from an unsuspecting Wanderer and charging off.

The visitors turned over, but Ayr managed to force them into touch before launching another attack from their steady set piece, Irving, stand-off Catherine Shennan and winger Kirsty Wilson moving play dangerously close to the Wanderers' line.

They couldn't get through the defence, though, and before they knew it, Wanderers were away for a converted try. 0-62.

A couple of knocks-on by the visitors gave Ayr a good platform to go for the line again, Shennan, Cowan, Swift, Morrison and Wilson combining to send over Turner, but she was held up.

The captain tried again with Swift and Mulholland in support, but the Wanderers wave swept them right back to half-way and they were turned over and off went Wanderers for two more unconverted tries. 0-72.

Ayr were determined to get some points. Replacement prop Lauren Gunn bashed her way through the opposition with Cowan and hooker Ann Cooper in support. It took a few phases and a penalty, but Morrison and Cowan combined to send David over in the corner. The conversion angle was too wide for Shennan. 5-72.

Murrayfield Wanderers had the final say, good work by Wilson and Cowan undone by yet another turnover, and the table toppers got their last unconverted try. 5-77.
- Elena Hogarth.

Photos courtesy of George McMillan.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Watsonians 29 Ayr 27

It was a good day to be a Watsonians fan but a bad day for the pink and black travelling support as they watched Ayr squander an eight-point lead and be beaten at the death in the BT Premiership.

It wasn't a promising start for the visitors at Myreside, as Watsonians showed their ambition and determination from the get-go, full-back Max McFarland flying over only for the try to be disallowed thanks to a forward pass.

Scrums were exchanged with both sides holding their own. But Watsonians had the majority of the possession and did more with it. Any scrap that came their way was utilised to their advantage. An Ayr chip was swallowed up and fed on to their first try-scorer, centre DJ Innes. Stand-off Andrew Chalmers missed the conversion. 5-0.

Ayr lock Robert McAlpine steadied the ship at the line-out, scrum-half David Armstrong firing the ball on to McAlpine's second row partner Scott Sutherland who popped up in mid-field before flanker Ruaridh Mackenzie - making his first start for Ayr - spotted a gap and chipped on.

It came to nothing and before long, the home team had a line-out and flanker Angus Duckett almost strolled over in the corner. There was no conversion again. 10-0.

Watsonians were pushing Ayr to the limit with their attacking play and there was some fast thinking and even faster tackles from stand-off Danny McCluskey, centre Stafford McDowall and tireless prop Steven Longwell to contain the threat.

More points came Watsonians' way thanks to a Chalmers penalty. 13-0.

Ayr gathered themselves together, secured a turnover and winger Craig Gossman appeared with ball in hand, almost jogging along the touchline, before centre Archie Russell hit a good line to break through the defence and winger Richard Dalgleish rushed over for the try. Full-back Grant Anderson was on kicking duty but the angle was too wide for him. 13-5.

It was possibly Anderson's bleeding forehead that distracted him as he tried to convert and he temporarily left the field to be attended to, with Jamie Bova coming on.

There were some unfortunate occurrences for both teams, with Ayr crossing as they headed for the line and Watsonians' resulting kick for the corner going completely wonky. Armstrong was under the ball and he launched McCluskey into attack, with hooker Robbie Smith and Sutherland in support, but they were hustled into touch.

Chalmers stretched his team's lead with another penalty. 16-5.

McCluskey took his leave briefly with Paddy Dewhirst deputising and looking at home, his terrific jinking run to the line allowing number eight Blair Macpherson to cross for Ayr's second and his eighth of the season. Anderson converted. 16-12.

McCluskey returned to the field after half-time but his permanent departure was only a few minutes away. Some sniping work by Armstrong and a half-break by Russell meant things were looking up for Ayr, but the sight of McCluskey leaving the field on a stretcher due to a lower leg injury was a definite downer for the men in pink and black.

Dewhirst was back on and got stuck into some thumping runs with Russell and McDowall. Ayr drove for the line and prop Djustice Sears-Duru, Glasgow's Canadian international, burrowed over for the score, with the conversion by Anderson. 16-19.

Chalmers then evened things up with a penalty. 19-19.

Watsonians went down to fourteen men when winger Keith Young was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.

There was a reshuffle as club captain Pete McCallum made his comeback from injury, with Macpherson moving from eight to blindside flanker, George Hunter moving from there to his usual position of prop and Sears-Duru moving off the field.

Watsonians launched another spirited attack but dropped the ball; Armstrong was on it in a flash, McCallum backing him up and Dalgleish then charging, chipping, collecting and scoring in style. Anderson missed the conversion. 19-24.

Gossman looked like he was about to do the same, but his chip came off a Watsonians boot and bobbled off the pitch. The ensuing line-out allowed Ayr's backs to run, McDowall and Anderson pinning their ears back, but they were pinged for obstruction.

There was a slightly frantic period as Watsonians looked like they didn't know what to do with the ball and ended up knocking on. McCallum broke from the back of the scrum and passed to Armstrong, who made a scurrying break. They lost possession but soon regained it, McCallum thumping his way up the pitch until Anderson got another three points from a penalty. 19-27.

Chalmers quickly replied. 22-27.

The home crowd could sense something and cheered on their team but their good attack came undone when a stray foot nudged the ball into touch.

Possession changed hands a few times as the metaphorical clock ticked down, but Watsonians kept a hold of the ball and despite the attentions of Russell, replacement hooker David Young, McDowall and Sears-Duru (back on for Longwell), they moved it brilliantly from their own half and patiently waited until Young crossed in the corner. With the scores level, it was up to replacement Ali Harris to nail the touchline conversion, which he did, to the rapturous applause of the home fans. 29-27.

It was the final play of the game, the referee's whistle inaudible over the celebrations.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Watsonians v Ayr preview

Ayr have their first of two back-to-back away games on Saturday as they travel to Edinburgh to play Watsonians at Myreside in the BT Premiership.

The men in pink and black climbed back to the top of the table after last week's win against Glasgow Hawks, but they will be on their guard against ambitious Watsonians, who had a great start to their league campaign and will be eager to perform well in front of their home fans after some disappointing results of late.

Ayr head coach Calum Forrester has his team ready for the visit east.

"Last week the pack put in a really dominant performance and we will be looking for them to back it up this week in what will be a tough trip to Myreside."

There are a few changes to the squad, with Danny McCluskey taking over from the injured Ross Curle at stand-off; Robbie Smith starts at hooker after impressing from the bench in his first senior season; and Ruaridh Mackenzie moves into the starting XV following his try-scoring debut last week.

George Hunter stays in the back row for the third week, and Glasgow Warriors' Canadian international prop Djustice Sears-Duru retains his place in the front row.

Club captain Pete McCallum is amongst the substitutes and will hopefully make his return to action after overcoming a knee injury.

15. Grant Anderson (c); 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Stafford McDowall, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Danny McCluskey, 9. David Armstrong; 1. Djustice Sears-Duru, 2. Robbie Smith, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. George Hunter, 7. Ruaridh Mackenzie, 8. Blair Macpherson.

16. David Young, 17. Craig Stevenson, 18. Pete McCallum, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Jamie Bova.

15. Keith Young; 14. Mark Bertram, 13. DJ Innes, 12. Tom Hart, 11. Max McFarland; 10. Andrew Chalmers, 9. Reiss Cullen; 1. Martin Christie (c), 2. Sean Crombie, 3. Callum Eastwood; 4. Matt Poole, 5. Craig Borthwick; 6. Diarmaid Dee, 7. Angus Duckett, 8. Euan Dods.

16. Neil Cochrane/Darren Miller, 17. Dave Kennan, 18. Viliami Fihaki, 19. Euan McKirdy, 20. Ali Harris.

Kick-off 3pm!

Follow the scores for the 1st and 2nd XVs' games live on Twitter and the Ultimate Rugby app respectively.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

RBS Six Nations ticket prices

If you're an Ayr RFC member, you should have received a form to apply, through the club, for tickets for the 2017 RBS Six Nations.

There are some changes to ticket prices for games at BT Murrayfield.

Scotland v Ireland
Saturday 4th February, 2.25pm.
Adult tickets only
Gold - £85, Silver - £62, Bronze - £40.

Scotland v Wales
Saturday 25th February, 2.25pm.
Adult tickets only
Gold - £85, Silver - £62, Bronze - £40.

Scotland v Italy
Saturday 18th March, 12.30pm.
Adult tickets
Gold - £75, Silver - £50, Bronze - £35.
U18 tickets
Gold - £40, Silver - £30, Bronze - £20.
Student tickets
No Gold available. Silver - £40, Bronze - £28.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Ayr 39 Glasgow Hawks 13

Ayr ran in six tries to beat Glasgow Hawks 39-13 in the BT Premiership at Millbrae on Saturday and climb back to the top of the table.

The visitors began with a penalty struck by stand-off George Horne. 0-3.

Hawks looked like they were going to get off to a flyer, with former Ayr player Kerr Gossman surely headed to the line had the ball not flown over his shoulder instead of into his hands.

Captain and number eight Tommy Spinks made an impressive break but he was taken care of by Ayr stand-off Ross Curle and centre Stafford McDowall.

After an Ayr scrum, Curle spotted a gap and chipped on for McDowall. But Junior Bulumakau, Hawks' other winger who also once wore a pink and black shirt, got to it first. His full-back, erstwhile Glasgow Warrior Peter Murchie, couldn't take his pass.

Curle evened up the scores with a penalty. 3-3.

Ayr second row Robert McAlpine headed to the clubhouse to get his face stitched up and was temporarily replaced by Craig Stevenson.

With two teams who know each other so well, a bit of scrapping is always expected, but thankfully it escalated to nothing more than some pushing and shoving.

Again, it was Hawks who were going for it in attack, with centres Bobby Beattie and Brendan McGroarty making inroads. A forward pass scuppered them though.

Possession went back and forth between the two teams before Djustice Sears-Duru, Glasgow Warriors' Canadian international prop on his first appearance for Ayr, showed excellent hands to get the ball to centre Archie Russell, who muscled his way through the defence.
Captain Grant Anderson, second row Scott Sutherland and Curle got Ayr right up into Hawks' twenty-two and scrum-half David Armstrong scrambled for the line. But he didn't make and his opposite number, another Glasgow Warrior, Grayson Hart, found himself in the sin bin.

McAlpine returned just as Ayr got locked into some scrummaging and came out on top, number eight Blair Macpherson picking up the ball at the back and dotting it down for a try. Curle was on kicking duty and got the conversion. 10-3.

The Old Anniesland side could have replied with a try of their own after a chip by Ayr's Anderson came to the hands of Bulumakau but the Scotland 7s cap knocked on.

Again, Ayr dominated the scrum, gained a penalty, took the line-out and rumbled to the line, prop-turned-flanker George Hunter claiming the try. The conversion angle was tight against the touchline, but Curle struck it perfectly. 17-3.

Another Ayr kick ended up in Hawks' hands, those of Murchie, but in taking the ball, his own momentum slid him right into touch.

Ayr's line-out was firing well but they later knocked on, handing possession to Hawks. But they ended up getting it back only to give it away again in a bizarre period of play that ended with Bulumakau almost getting a try.

The visitors got their score moments later when second row Andy Kirkland launched himself over the line in the corner. Horne's conversion went awry as Ayr winger Craig Gossman charged at him. 17-8.
Hawks started the second half at a canter, flanker Grant Stewart barging over for a try. It was another difficult conversion for Horne as this time Ayr winger Richard Dalgleish charged at him and he missed. 17-13.

There was then a major shift in the game when McGroarty was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle on Sutherland. Their misery was compounded when Bulumakau was yellow-carded minutes later.

They did incredibly well to hold Ayr with just thirteen men but it couldn't last. Hunter, prop Steven Longwell, Macpherson, Armstrong and Anderson - in between what seemed like twenty scrums in a row - headed for the line and it was Macpherson who eventually went over for the try. With Curle off with a leg strain (replaced by teenager Paddy Dewhirst on his 1st XV debut), Anderson stepped up to the kicking tee but missed the conversion. 22-13.

Anderson would get some points moments later. Hunter, Russell, Armstrong and Gossman scurried for the line before passing to the captain, who dodged the defenders to score. Dewhirst had a go at the conversion but couldn't get it. 27-13.
Hunter moved to prop with Longwell off and Ruaridh Mackenzie made his debut for Ayr in the back row.

A strong scrum from Ayr let Macpherson loose, and he released Armstrong. The scrum-half dummied and made a leaping pass to Gossman, with the winger making a run for it.

It came to nothing as Hawks got a penalty. Their kick for touch didn't go far enough and Armstrong gathered and cleared. Hawks attacked from the line-out, but Russell, hooker David Young, McAlpine and Mackenzie got stuck into some thumping tackles.

A scrum apiece and Ayr got their hands back on the ball, with almost everyone firing it this way and that. A line-out to Ayr after Hawks failed to roll away was messy but flanker Will Bordill tidied up and Mackenzie capped his debut by spotting a gap and sailing through for a try. Dewhirst converted. 34-13.

Ayr emptied the bench, with Stevenson back on for McAlpine, Robbie Smith for Young and Jamie Bova for Dalgleish.

Tempers flared once again but a stern talking-to from the referee calmed everyone down.

A scrum for Ayr let Gossman rush off, with Stevenson and Mackenzie in support. It was Macpherson who went over for the try, claiming a hat-trick. Dewhirst's conversion was short. 39-13.

It was the final play of the game. Ayr celebrated being back at the top of the table. But Hawks are still only three points behind and Melrose just two, so there is all to play for after eight rounds of fantastic rugby.
Final score: Ayr 39 Glasgow Hawks 13.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Blair Macpherson.

- Elena Hogarth.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Ayr v Glasgow Hawks preview

The best in the west go head-to-head on Saturday at Millbrae as Ayr take on Glasgow Hawks in the BT Premiership, kicking off at 3pm.

Just two points separate leaders Hawks and third-placed Ayr, and both teams will be giving it their all in search of a win.

"Hawks have played some outstanding rugby so far this season and will come to Millbrae full of confidence," says Ayr head coach Calum Forrester. "The players are looking forward to the challenge in what is set to be a cracking west coast derby."

In the squad, Archie Russell returns at centre to partner Stafford McDowall, whilst Ross Curle will be calling the shots at stand-off in place of the injured Frazier Climo.

Glasgow Warriors' Canadian international prop Djustice Sears-Duru makes his debut in a lively front row along with David Young and Steven Longwell, whilst George Hunter stays at blindside flanker.

Robert McAlpine returns from Pro12 duty with the Warriors to reform his formidable double act in the second row with Scott Sutherland.

There are possible 1st XV debuts from the bench for Inverness-born Ruaridh Mackenzie and Paddy Dewhirst, who scored 23 points and was man of the match for the 2nd XV in last week's 78-12 win against their Hamilton counterparts.

15. Grant Anderson (c); 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Archie Russell, 12. Stafford McDowall, 11. Craig Gossman; 10. Ross Curle, 9. David Armstrong; 1. Djustice Sears-Duru, 2. David Young, 3. Steven Longwell; 4. Robert McAlpine, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. George Hunter, 7. Will Bordill, 8. Blair Macpherson.

16. Robbie Smith, 17. Craig Stevenson, 18. Ruaridh Mackenzie, 19. Paddy Dewhirst, 20. Jamie Bova.

Glasgow Hawks
15. Peter Murchie; 14. Junior Bulumakau, 13. Bobby Beattie, 12. Brendan McGroarty, 11. Kerr Gossman; 10. George Horne, 9. Grayson Hart; 1. Steven Findlay, 2. Scott Rodgers, 3. Gary Strain; 4. Andy Linton, 5. Andy Kirkland; 6. Andy Redmayne, 7. Grant Stewart, 8. Tommy Spinks (c).

16. Paul Cairncross, 17. Brendan Cullinane, 18. Sam Thomson, 19. Jack Steele, 20. Davie Milne.

Kick-off 3pm! Follow the scores live on Twitter.

Ayr 2nd XV play Hawks 2nd XV at Millbrae, 3pm, and you can follow the match via the Ultimate Rugby app.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Ayr 46 Stirling County 22

Ayr got back to winning ways in the BT Premiership but they were made to fight every step of the way by Stirling County at a mild Millbrae on Saturday.

With the lion's share of possession early on, Ayr waited patiently until they could find their way through the County defence, George Hunter - a prop starting at flanker - getting over the line for a try. Frazier Climo's conversion attempt hit the post. 5-0.

Ayr were without second row Scott Sutherland for part of the first half as a cut to the face within minutes of kick-off left him being stitched up in the clubhouse. Craig Brown, a late addition to the squad, replaced him.

There was nearly another try for Ayr when flanker Will Bordill hacked on a loose ball and centre Ross Curle chased, but even though he touched it down, the score was disallowed. 

Prop Steven Longwell and centre Danny McCluskey were in the thick of the attack, moving the ball at pace. Scrum-half David Armstrong, stand-off Frazier Climo and Curle were quick with their hands too, tidying up a messy line-out. Ayr redeemed themselves by stealing County's.

Climo stretched Ayr's lead with a penalty after Stirling were caught offside. 8-0.

The visitors hit back with a scything run by centre Fraser Lyle, and winger Matt Lamb racing away for a try that full-back and captain Jonny Hope converted. 8-7.

They were off again moments later, stand-off Ross Jones strolling in for the score. Hope added the extras. 8-14.

Ayr began to get the upper hand at the scrums though, number eight Blair Macpherson getting his hands on the ball to let Armstrong, McCluskey, Climo, Hunter and second row Craig Stevenson to muscle their way to the line. It was winger Richard Dalgleish who used his strength to get through the defence and score. Climo couldn't convert. 13-14.

Ayr lost McCluskey to injury, Stafford McDowall replacing him.
A knock-on by Ayr gave Stirling a scrum in their own twenty-two but a huge shove by the pink and black pack allowed Macpherson to simply pick up the ball and score. Climo converted before half-time. 20-14.

Ayr started the second half at lightning speed, Curle and wing Craig Gossman dancing up the touchline. Captain Grant Anderson scored. Climo's conversion hit the post again. 25-14.

Hope had a kick at goal but to no avail before another shot was successful. 25-17.

They gave away a penalty themselves shortly after and Ayr took the line-out. Prop D'arcy Rae spotted a gap and fended off tacklers to score under the crossbar. Climo converted. 32-17.

Jamie Bova replaced Dalgleish on the wing as County were starting their fight back but a huge tackle from McDowall dislodged the ball from a Stirling hand. Bova took it to Curle before Gossman scurried round the defence to get it to Anderson who slapped the ball over his head for Bova to take it on again. Unfortunately, he was bundled into touch.

The home team lost another player to injury, with Bordill limping off to be replaced Gregor Henry.

Gossman followed McDowall's lead and his thump on a Stirling attacker forced a knock-on. Bova and Curle launched themselves at the scrambling visiting defence until Armstrong cleared.

Stirling might have been spooked by Ayr's poaching prowess at the line-out as they twice took the quick option in a matter of minutes.
They made for the line with determination but a couple of handling errors denied them any points.

Ayr quickly moved the action out of their own half and drove for the try-line only to be held up. Two more scrums and Anderson got over for the score. Climo had been helped from the field minutes before with a leg injury, so Curle stepped up to the tee and converted. 39-17.

Gossman, Anderson, McDowall, Curle and Dalgleish (back on) sprang for the line but so keen were Ayr to get to there, they were almost tripping over each other. The ball got to Bova and he raced away for a try, which Curle converted. 46-17.

Stirling weren't out of it yet, their backs on the scent of a score. Indiscipline by Ayr reversed a penalty, and County secured the line-out. Wing Craig Pringle put his foot down and got the try after side-to-side play. Hope couldn't convert in the last act of the match. 46-22.

Ayr retained the Cairdeas Quaich, which the two clubs play for to mark the friendship between them.
Final score: Ayr 46 Stirling County 22.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Blair Macpherson.

- Elena Hogarth

Photos copyright George McMillan.

Ayr Ladies 12 Hillhead/Jordanhill 79

Ayr Ladies put in a performance to be proud of at Millbrae on Friday night as they went head-to-head with one of Scotland's best teams and gave the big crowd something to shout about.

Hillhead/Jordanhill has a long and proud history of producing international players and reaching more cup finals than you can shake a stick at. When the team last visited Millbrae to take on Ayr in the Sarah Beaney Cup semi-finals earlier this year, they showed just why they're so revered. This time, however, they didn't get things all their own way.

The power, pace and skill of the visitors were on show right from the off, and they opened the scores with a converted try early on. 0-7.

The ladies in pink and black knew they would have to get stuck into tackles and get stuck in they did, stand-off Catherine Shennan, winger Connie Griffiths and centres Catriona Cowan and Julie David leading the way.

The scrum took a battering at times, but the front row of captain Laura Turner, Lauren Gunn and Louise McLauchlan, shored up later by replacements Lisa Croniken and Michelle Nelson, did well under immense pressure.

Number eight Lynda Morgan managed to pick up from the back and make a break, with full-back Claire Law, Gunn, Turner, Shennan and scrum-half Emily Irving in support.

Flanker Kelsey Swift was not only looking for gaps in attack but tackling her heart out in defence, the diminutive back rower dragging down players twice her size.

Along with second rows Joanne Jones and Phoebe McDowall, she got Ayr into an attacking position in Hills' twenty-two and when the ladies from Hughenden strayed off-side, Law sprang into action, scurrying round the defence and over in the corner for a try. Shennan couldn't get the touchline conversion. 5-7.

The visitors replied with three converted tries in a row, their powerful forwards smothering Ayr and their lively backs finishing up. 5-28.

Ayr knew to expect fireworks from Hills, and instead of standing back and gazing at the show, they got their heads down and worked hard.

Swift and Gunn, voted the players of the match by Ayr and Hills respectively, were tireless in defence. Griffiths attacked well along with flanker Rachel Morrison when they wrestled possession away from the visitors.

It looked like another score was imminent as Hills pressed relentlessly towards Ayr's line. But some sterling work by the Millbrae women saw them turn the hot shots over and Morrison flew through their defence, running this way and that until she was into their half, fending off tacklers and lobbing the ball brilliantly over their heads to reach her backs.

Hills were pinged for a high tackle, but although Ayr could scent the try, they gave away a penalty themselves and Hills were off like a runaway train for yet another converted try. 5-35.

A solid scrum from the home team unleashed Griffiths, Shennan and Cowan, whose fantastic pass found the hands of David, who blasted her way through the defenders for a stunning try that Shennan easily converted. 12-35.

Hills swarmed all over Ayr, and even though Turner, McLauchlan and Croniken were firing the ball at speed, they were turned over. Big tackles from Cowan and winger Ann-Marie Connelly couldn't stop the juggernaut. The final try before half-time was unconverted. 12-40.

An unconverted try for Hills got the second half off to a start, quickly followed by another. 12-50.

The scrum was under pressure, but Irving did well to retrieve the ball and get it away to Shennan. However, they were beginning to get bullied and the turnovers kept coming.

Ayr had a great one of their own though, replacement Rachael Mulholland working hard at the breakdown.

But Hills couldn't be halted, and they claimed two further unconverted tries. 12-60.

It wasn't quite the pasting the scoreline suggests. Ayr camped out in Hills' twenty-two for several periods. the line-out held firm and despite the exhausting tackles, they didn't tire.

Even when three more Hills tries were scored - two converted - Ayr Ladies looked anything but despondent.

Morrison, Shennan, David and replacements Lisa Main and Kirsty Wilson were excellent with ball in hand, Morrison having the vision to chip over the top of the marauding Hills defence and chase. They couldn't get another score, alas.

When the final whistle came, both sets of players and their supporters showed their appreciation for a terrific game of rugby. They're just a few matches into their first season in the BT Premier League, but Ayr Ladies are growing in confidence with every performance.

Final score: Ayr Ladies 12 Hillhead/Jordanhill 79.

- Elena Hogarth.