Sunday, 19 February 2017

Ayr 48 Watsonians 12

Ayr ran away with their last regular BT Premiership game of the season at Millbrae on Saturday, scoring eight tries against Watsonians on a busy day in Alloway.

Before kick-off, the two teams, match officials and fans had a minute's applause in memory of Watsonians' club stalwart Martin Macari, who recently passed away.

It was the visitors who got off to a flying start, winger Keith Young taking advantage of a loose Ayr pass to motor away for a try, which stand-off Ewan Scott converted. 0-7.

Ayr got stuck into attack, eventual man of the match Blair Macpherson leading the charge, with centre Ross Curle and full-back Grant Anderson in support.

Ayr took a line-out from a penalty and after driving on a short distance, hooker Lewis Anderson appeared with ball in hand and barged over the try-line with Watsonians defenders clinging on. He successfully grounded and stand-off Frazier Climo converted. 7-7.
It was a torrid time for Watsonians, getting turned over, with Ayr captain Pete McCallum leaping into the air to claim the ball after it came firing out of a white and maroon hand in an upward trajectory.

Curle, his centre partner Archie Russell and prop Steven Longwell moved proceedings on, and second row Robert McAlpine showed a deftness of touch to fire the ball in the direction of Danny McCluskey, who raced away for a try. It was in the corner, giving Climo a difficult angle to convert from and he couldn't make it. 12-7.

Ayr were unlucky to lose second row colossus Scott Sutherland to injury. Macpherson moved to lock, with Will Bordill coming off the bench and putting in a power of work at flanker alongside Gregor Henry.

Watsonians had a decent amount of possession but they couldn't do anything with it. Ayr were sturdier in the muddy conditions, and the Myreside men were being bullied all over the park, Climo flattening one of them with a crunching tackle.

McCallum bulldozed through the defence, with prop George Hunter in the thick of the attack, Macpherson and Longwell in support. From the back of a strong scrum in Watsonians' twenty-two, scrum-half David Armstrong danced round the defence, sold a dummy and dived over for a try. Climo converted. 19-7.
Watsonians full-back Andrew Chalmers caught a clearing kick that didn't go far enough and set off on an excursion only to be unceremoniously halted by Armstrong and winger Craig Gossman.

Fisticuffs broke out but referee Neil Muir resolved matters without reaching for any cards.

A couple of wobbles at the line-out didn't faze Ayr and soon Macpherson had put his foot down and galloped over the line. It was another conversion attempt from out wide but Climo made it. 26-7.

It was a quick first half, and Ayr finished it up with pacy performances from both Andersons, McCluskey, Hunter, Bordill, McCallum, Climo, Russell and Curle. No more points were to be had until the resumption though.

During half-time, the family of Gordon Strachan unveiled a bench at the side of the pitch in memory of the former club captain, coach and Scotland cap who passed away last year.
McCluskey got his second of the day not long into the second half after McAlpine and Climo had launched themselves through the Watsonians defence. Climo couldn't convert. 31-7.

After an energetic display, Lewis Anderson was replaced by David Young, with Paddy Dewhirst taking over from Climo, who would make a reappearance later. Jamie Bova had also joined the ranks in the backs.

Watsonians captain Rory Drummond was leading by example with many a barging run but his efforts were thwarted by handling errors. They pressed on though, keeping Bordill, Bova and Macpherson busy in defence for a time. But again, the big hits from Ayr were too much for the visitors, Russell using all his bulk to bring an attacker to a sudden halt.
Watsonians were determined though, just as they have been throughout the season. Scott cleverly dodged his way round the pink and black defence until Martin Christie scored a well deserved try. The stand-off couldn't add the extras though. 31-12.

It had been a tiring afternoon for both teams but Ayr still had gas left in the tank. Full-back Anderson powered into the Watsonians half and Bova sped up the touchline to score. With Climo still on the sidelines, Anderson took the conversion kick and missed, much to the amusement of his own team-mates. 36-12.

Ben Paterson replaced Hunter, emptying Ayr's bench, and was soon scrumming down with Young and Longwell.

Climo returned and no sooner was he messing up the attacking plans of Watsonians than he had his hands on the ball, pinned his ears back and threw himself over the line. He converted too. 43-12.

Another try was on its way. McCallum broke from the back of the scrum with Bordill in support. Armstrong had the pace and the space to go over but he passed to Bova to give the wing his second score of the game. Climo probably wished he hadn't, as it meant another conversion attempt near the touchline and he missed. 48-12.
Armstrong took his leave, with Anderson moving to scrum-half. Ayr were still full of energy as the wonky Millbrae clock ticked to full-time, and Longwell and Young crashed through weary Watsonians defenders.

The final whistle was sounded though, sending Ayr players and fans into the clubhouse happy with a strong end to the league. They are currently top of the table, with second-placed Melrose still a game to play, but a BT Premiership home semi-final is secured. Next up is the BT Cup quarter-final against Jed-Forest on Saturday 4th March at Millbrae.

Final score: Ayr 48 Watsonians 12.
- Elena Hogarth.

Photos courtesy of George McMillan. Please seek permission before reproducing for commercial purposes.

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