DOUGIE ROSS @ Millbrae
IT was a classic display of Scottish winter rugby in Ayr; cold, wet, tough, and undeniably ugly at times. Ayr ran out deserved winners but it was far from comfortable for either team. Both sides were looking to bounce back after losses last weekend and not wanting to go into the month-long break on another.
Ayr took the lead after just six minutes, with fly-half Scott Lyle, stepping in for the injured Frazer Climo, slotting over a penalty kick. From there on it was all Boroughmuir, with the visitors setting up camp in Ayr’s 22 for the rest of the first half.
A dogged defensive display frustrated Boorughmuir, who could not convert possession into points no matter how hard they tried, failing to score at all in the first half.
One casualty of Ayr’s defence seemed to be discipline as prop Robin Hislop was the first of three yellow cards they were to receive. Going in to the half 3-0 up clearly boosted Ayr’s confidence as they came out all guns blazing in the second half, getting themselves in possession from the off.
It took less than five minutes for the home team to cross the whitewash when winger Robbie Nairn was put through in the corner.
A big break from the returning Stafford McDowell ended with the ball in the hands of substitute Sam Graham, who showed some blistering pace to finish under the posts.
The second of Ayr’s yellow cards came as Scott Sutherland suffered a rush of blood to the head and put a no-arms shoulder tackle in on a charging Boroughmuir player. Into the sin-bin for the second-row and an easy penalty for Greg Cannie to slot over.
Seeing Sutherland’s refreshing break, Robert McAlpine decided he would like to join his fellow forward and promptly made the card count three for a daft session of handbags.
Being down to 13 men did not seem to affect the buoyant home team who managed to add two penalties and a try for substitute hooker David Young. It was straight off the training ground, a line-out 10 metres from the line and an unstoppable maul left him with nothing to do but flop down for the five points.
Two tries in the final five minutes from Boroughmuir’s Eaun McKirdy and Jordan Edmunds was not enough in the end to salvage any points for the visitors.
Callum Forrester, Ayr head coach, was clearly pleased with both sides of his team’s performance,.
“In terms of the response we got from the players after last weekend, I think we had 40 missed tackles last weekend, and I think the defensive effort in the first half as well as the attitude they brought to training on Tuesday and Thursday to correct that has been great. It was a real lift keeping them out at half time and then some good attacking play in the second half to get a couple of dots,” he said.
A clearly frustrated Peter Wright, Boroughmuir head coach, commented: “Us being naive in attack and them being very good in defence, we didn’t get a score [in the first half], with that kind of pressure you would expect two or three scores. We were naive, we lacked composure. It’s the same thing every week.”
Ayr: G Anderson; R Nairn, D McCluskey, S McDowall, C Gossman; S Lyle, H Warr; R Hislop, L Anderson, S Longwell, B Macpherson, S Sutherland, T Spinks, G Stokes, P McCallum (c). Subs: D Young, A Prentice, M Badenhorst, P Dewhirst, S Graham.
Boroughmuir: C Whyte; G McConnell, M Brown, R Kerr, J Edmunds; G Cannie, J Adams; R Dunbar, J Matthews, D Winning, F Field, A Erskine, D Marek, T Drennan, C Keddie. Subs: A Nethery, D Robertson, C Atkinson, E McKirdy, M Hare.
Ayr: Tries: Nairn, Graham, Young; Cons: Lyle 2; Pens: Lyle 3.
Boroughmuir: Tries: McKirdy, Edmunds; Con: Cannie; Pen: Cannie
Scoring sequence: 3-0 (h-t) 8-0, 15-0, 15-3, 18-3, 21-3, 28-3, 28-8, 28-15.
Referee: David Sutherland
Man-of-the-Match: Ayr stand-off Scott Lyle had the daunting task of filling Frazer Climo’s boots and did so with the same big kicks and calm match control as the man himself.
Talking point: Ayr’s ability to not only score when missing two men in the bin, but also only conceding three points in that time, showed what control they really had over the game – but why can’t they do it week-in and week-out?