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.

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