Ayr v Currie Chieftains: pack power proves decisive for Millbrae men

Pete Murchie's side take on old rivals Melrose at The Greenyards in Cup semi-final on 30th March

Pete McCallum
Pete McCallum carries the ball for Ayr in their Cup quarter-final victory over Currie Chieftains. Image: George McMillan

Ayr 34

Currie Chieftains 19

ELÉNA de MELLO HOGARTH @ Millbrae

A SECOND HALF display of might allowed Ayr to snuff out Currie Chieftains’ attacking game-plan in the Scottish Cup quarter-final at Millbrae. It was a match of four distinct quarters as the hosts dominated the first 20 minutes, the third 20 minutes and wavered slightly as they reached the home stretch. The visitors got a hold of the game before half-time but it got away from them again as the big boys from Millbrae bullied their way to supremacy.

Ayr’s powerful back-row of captain Pete McCallum, Tommy Spinks and Blair Macpherson made their presence felt from the off, with McCallum leading the way with his usual ferocious tackles.

Macpherson opened the scoring – the first of his brace – and another try quickly followed by centre Danny McCluskey, with stand-off Frazier Climo converting both.

Turnberry Hotel

The visitors couldn’t cope with the strong forward play by Ayr, hooker Robbie Smith making himself known at every available opportunity. But once the Chieftains got the ball in hand, their backs did some damage, wingers Ben Robbins and Matt Hooks, and the impressive centre partnership of Joe Reynolds and Robbie Nelson, proving too hot to handle.

Robbins flew over for Currie’s first try, with stand-off Gregor Hunter’s conversion attempt drifting wide. Then brilliant handling from Robbins, Reynolds and Nelson sent number eight Scott McGinley over for a score, with Hunter adding the extras this time.

Ayr stretched their lead thanks to a Climo penalty just before half-time.


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Currie’s front-row had been taking a battering and not just in the scrum. They lost captain and hooker Fergus Scott after an arm to the face, as well as props Fraser Watt and Matias Sonzogni Argiro, in the second half, with the latter having to make a return to the field so as to avoid uncontested scrums.

The scrum was very much the battle ground, with Ayr prop Steven Longwell reacting to taking one against the head with such joy that you would think his team had won the whole Cup. Ayr were firmly on top by the time he was whooping and hollering, with full-back Grant Anderson having scored an unconverted try to give them a ten-point lead.

Currie tried to unleash their backs again, with scrum-half Charlie Shiel looking lively, but ferocious tackling by Ayr’s Smith and second-row Lars Morrice stopped the away team in their tracks. A series of knocks-on and passes to no-one didn’t help their cause either.

Macpherson blasted his way over for his second try, which Climo converted, and Spinks strolled in for an unconverted score just after Currie replacement AP McWilliam was yellow-carded for persistent infringement.

Ayr emptied their bench with a few minutes remaining, and some uncharacteristic disorganisation gifted Currie the opportunity to exploit a gaping hole on the left wing for their replacement Steven Hamilton to fly in for a try. Hunter’s conversion hit the post but still went over for the final points of the match.

“Currie are an excellent team and we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game,” said Ayr head coach Peter Murchie. “We had to work really hard and the guys did some really good stuff in the first half, and in the second half we were excellent.”

“Credit to Ayr,” said Chieftains captain Fergus Scott. “We got ourselves in that cycle in terms of scrum and maul, and really struggled to get out of that in the second half. They’re pretty destructive when they get that going and we struggled to defend. I felt like a lot of it was our own doing; we made quite a few errors. But fair play to them, they’re a clinical team.”

Cala Homes supports Currie Chieftains

Teams –

Ayr: G Anderson; P Dewhirst, R Curle, D McCluskey, K Rowe; F Climo, H Warr; R Sayce, R Smith, S Longwell, D Corbenici, L Morrice, B Macpherson, T Spinks, P McCallum. Subs used:A McGuire, B Paterson, A North, C Reece, A Rademaker, J Bova, C Black.

Currie Chieftains: J Forbes; B Robbins, J Reynolds, R Nelson©, M Hooks; G Hunter, C Shiel; M Sonzogni Argiro, F Scott©, F Watt, M Vernel, M Kelly, C Hope, R Davies, S McGinley. Subs used: G Carson, AP McWilliam, R Patterson, W Nelson, C Davies, A Hall, S Hamilton.

Referee: Mike Adamson.

 

Scorers –

Ayr: Tries: Macpherson 2, McCluskey, Anderson, Spinks; Cons: Climo 3;  Pen: Climo.

Currie Chieftains: Tries: Robbins, McGinley, Hamilton. Cons: Hunter(2.

Scoring sequence: 5-0; 7-0, 12-0; 14-0, 14-5, 14-10; 14-12, 17-12 (h-t) 22-12, 27-12; 29-12, 34-12, 34-17; 34-19.

Yellow cards –

Currie Chieftains: AP McWilliam

 

Man-of-the-match: Powerful and pacy, hooker Robbie Smith made his presence felt right across the park. The 20-year-old from Newton Stewart has made a brief appearance for Glasgow Warriors; expect to see much more of him.

Talking point: Ross to the rescue … With every single player who could have possibly covered centre unavailable due to injury or priorities taking them elsewhere, Ross Curle grabbed his cape, put his pants on over his tights and flew up from London to plug that gap. He lasted 75 minutes – not bad for someone who hasn’t played all season.


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Eléna de Mello Hogarth
About Eléna de Mello Hogarth 5 Articles
Eléna began her career as a freelance writer in 2008 whilst still an undergraduate, covering sport and culture, and has an MA in TV fiction writing. She has been working in sports communications from grassroots to governing body level since 2011, and also trains young athletes in how to use social media to their advantage.