BT Premiership: Ayr climb to second with derby win

Ayr stand-off dives in for his team's bonus point try in a hard-fought derby win at Millbrae. Image: George McMillan

Ayr 33

Marr 22

MATT VALLANCE @ Millbrae

PURISTS might question the quality of some of the rugby, but the fans enjoyed this end-to-end nine-try Ayrshire derby. Ayr won although not perhaps as well as the score-line might indicate- they defended better, took their chances well and got their reward.

“I’m very happy with the five points, we learned a thing or two about rotation, and it was a case of Mission Completed,” said home coach Calum Forrester, who was, however, less than happy with the two cheap late tries his 14-men conceded.

Opposite number Craig Redpath was “disappointed” at the costly errors his side made but felt his men had responded to the derby challenge by playing to a level above anything they have shown this season.

“Our pro players lifted us, we stuck at it and we kept going, but Ayr were clinical. I am proud of the effort we showed,” he said.

 

Lynch Homes are proud supporters of Ayr RFC

 

Marr had the better of the territory and possession in the opening quarter, but still found themselves 14-0 down. First of all, Scott Lyle hacked a dropped ball through, collected and touched down, before converting himself, then David Armstrong gathered Tommy Spinks’s line-out take and ghosted through a huge gap, before throwing in an outrageous side-step on his way over between the posts, to give Lyle a simple conversion.

But Marr kept plugging away and great pressure by their pack saw scrum-half Grant Baird go over for an unconverted try in 18 minutes.

Ayr quickly cancelled it out, however. Robbie Smith pirated Marr ruck ball, the home team moved it right and Grant Anderson out-sprinted Lyle to the winger’s kick ahead for try number three, again converted by Lyle.

Straight from the restart, Craig Gossman was collared on his own ten-metre line, for former Ayr man Richard Dalgleish to hack through and win the race for the touch-down for a second unconverted Marr try, which kept the visitors in touch.

Ayr had the last word in the first-half. A series of forward drives were repulsed, but the hosts moved the ball to the backs and Frazier Climo charged over between the sticks to leave Lyle the simplest of conversions and a 28-10 half-time score-line. The bonus point was in the bag for the men in pink and black.

The third quarter was largely forgettable, before Ayr made the game safe in 63 minutes – the fit-again Robbie Nairn winning the race to a Gossman grubber.

Ayr then lost Scott Sutherland to a yellow card, for a ‘semi-professional foul’, and with the home team handicapped, Marr turned the screw. Skipper Angus Johnstone scored a third unconverted try, before, in the final move of the contest, man-of-the-match Ross Miller got his reward with a try between the sticks, which Dougie Steele converted with the last kick.

Not the greatest Ayrshire Derby – there was only one outbreak of ‘handbags’ for instance – but the scrums, with Ryan Grant at one point taking-on Oli Kebble, before the final one was uncontested, were enjoyed by the watching exponents of the dark arts.

On the whole, Ayr deserved to win and move above Currie Chieftains into second place in the league – although they have, of course, played a game more than their Edinburgh based rivals for the other home play-off slot behind runaway league leaders Melrose.

 

Lynch Homes are proud supporters of Ayr RFC

 

Teams –

Ayr: G Anderson; S Lyle, D McCluskey, S McDowall, C Gossman; F Climo, D Armstrong; G Hunter, R Smith, S Longwell, B Macpherson, S Sutherland, T Spinks, G Stokes, P McCallum. Replacements: L Anderson, R Hislop, R Grant, J Agnew, R Nairn.

Marr: D Steele; S Bickerstaff, R Dalgleish, C Bickerstaff, T Steven; C Kolarik, G Baird; O Kebble, G Jackson, W Farquhar, E Bulger, R Miller; S Vunisa, A Johnstone, B Johnston. Replacements: J Malcolm, F Watt, M Pearce, F Grant, T Buchanan.

Scorers –

Ayr: Tries: Lyle, Armstrong, Anderson, Climo, Nairn; Cons: Lyle 4.

Marr: Tries: Baird, Dalgleish, Johnstone, Miller; Cons: Steele.

Scoring sequence (Ayr first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 14-5; 19-5; 21-5; 21-10; 26-10; 28-10 (h-t) 33-10; 33-15; 33-20; 33-22

Yellow cards – 

Ayr: Sutherland

Referee: Ben Blain

Man-of-the-Match: David Armstrong’s try for Ayr was nearly enough to win it for him on its own, but for genuine effort and total commitment in a losing cause, topped-off with a deserved try, the award goes to Marr’s Ross Miller.

Talking point: Referee Ben Blain has had an outstanding first season in Scotland and while he controlled this potentially-explosive clash well, you got the impression some of his decisions at scrum time were guess-work. Mind you, this is hardly surprising given the quality of the props on show. The second-half joust between Ryan Grant and Oli Kebble was engrossing; strange then, we finished with uncontested scrums, testimony to the effort involved.

About Matt Vallance 35 Articles
Matt is a former member of Cumnock Rugby Club's 'Mean Machine' - motto: "Well, we won the fight". He has written about some 60 sports in a long career, mainly spent freelancing for, amongst others: The Herald, The Scotsman, The Sunday Times, Scotland on Sunday, the late-lamented Sunday Standard and just about every national paper. He survived a spell at the Paisley Daily Express, covering St Mirren and the Paisley Pirates every week. He now writes a lot of sporting obituaries, since he saw many of his subjects play. Opinionated, passionate and, as one Bill McMurtire once said: "The only Cumnock member (other than Mark Bennett) who can be let out without an escort". In his 70th year, Matt, known to many as: 'Snuff', still has a few noses to get up. Unfulfilled ambition - to live long enough to see Scotland beat the All Blacks.