COLIN RENTON@ Meggetland
A FIVE POINT haul at a venue that has traditionally not been a happy hunting ground for the Millbrae men was an ideal start to the defence of the BT Premiership title for a determined Ayr side. A calmly executed injury time drop goal by Frazier Climo harvested all five points but had coach Calum Forrester admitting that the performance was some way short of his expectations.
“That was a get out of jail card,” said a relieved Forrester. “We’ve got a few more levels to hit. It showed a good bit of character from the boys and that’s the important thing within the squad.”
And of the coup de grace applied by his ever reliable stand off, he added: “Frazier has shown again the experience he can bring and that touch of extra class.”
The hosts raced from the blocks and had an early scoring opportunity with a penalty that was easily within Laidlaw’s range. However, Dale Robertson opted to tap and go. When he was halted, Jordan Edmunds continued the move but was held up just short.
The momentum was firmly with the Edinburgh side and even the departure of Edmunds with an injury did not interrupt their flow.
A thundering run by Aubrey Mncube made a dent in the Ayr defence and the recycled ball was worked out to Mark Hare, who powered past two defenders to dot down. Laidlaw added the extra points.
Ayr had been confined to defensive duties and there was 16 minutes on the clock before they ventured into opposition territory. A line-out just shy of the target created the platform for a drive that ended with a home defender managing to get underneath the ball and prevent the touchdown.
A series of scrums had the home defence creaking and eventually led to a yellow card for Mncube. But a determined effort by the short-handed hosts meant that Ayr failed to make the breakthrough.
And, despite being a man down, Boroughmuir stretched further clear when hooker Johnny Matthews burst from halfway and raced into space before freeing Johnny Adams to dart in for try number two. Laidlaw again added the extras.
Ayr finished the half strongly and they clawed their way back into the match with the final play of the half when the ball was swept wide to Climo, who went in at the corner and then banged over the conversion for a 14-7 half time scoreline.
Ayr restarted strongly and their pressure paid off when Blair Macpherson powered over at the third time of asking, after the home side had repelled two previous efforts. Climo’s conversion attempt rattled back off the post.
The hosts bounced back and Climo had to look lively to bundle Greig Cannie into touch just short of the line. Matthews seized possession for Boroughmuir after a long throw at the ensuing lineout. Cal Davies capitalised when he crashed over and Laidlaw added the extra two points.
The game had opened out into a lively affair and Ayr struck back when Climo pounced on a loose ball and darted in wide on the right for an unconverted score.
Ayr edged in front for the first time with 58 minutes played when a scrum ball was shifted wide to David Armstrong, who crossed for the bonus point try. Scott Lyle’s conversion left the visitors three points ahead. Back came Boroughmuir and Laidlaw combined with Cannie to send in Hare for his second try before the stand-off again stroked over the conversion.
A tense closing quarter became even more engrossing when Lyle trimmed the deficit to a single point when he landed a penalty.
That ensured a dramatic finale and the home side managed to repel a series of attacks. As the clock ticked past 80 minutes, they appeared to have made the game safe when they stole turnover ball on their own line.
But, with Peter Wright roaring at his men to keep the ball, a wayward kick handed the visitors the possession that allowed them to set up a final assault and create the platform for Climo to calmly stroke that drop-goal between the sticks and secure the win.
It was frustrating for the home coach, who said: “It’s a game we probably deserved to win and just didn’t do it.”
There were positives, as he pointed out: “We scored four good tries playing rugby which is what we want to do. Even though we conceded 30 points, I thought our defence was absolutely outstanding.”
But Wright left his men in no doubt that it is time to cast off the label of gallant losers. “We have to be thinking not that we got two points but thinking that was a disaster. We want to be champions. We want to compete at that top level,” he explained.
A game that was a fantastic curtain -aiser for the season, suggests that we are in for a keenly contested and highly entertaining season.
Forrester agrees, suggesting: “There is a lot of quality players play in the BT Premiership. We don’t celebrate our brand enough. It’s a good level and it’s only going to get better.”
Boroughmuir: G Cannie; C Whyte, R Kerr, M Hare, J Edmunds; C Laidlaw©, J Adams; D Robertson, J Matthews, D Winning, C Keddie, D Marek, A MnCube, M Walker, T Drennan. Subs: C Davies, R Dunbar, T Gracie, J Troxler, B Mills.
Ayr: G Anderson; S Lyle, D McCluskey, S McDowall, C Gossman; F Climo, D Armstrong; R Smith, P MacArthur, A Prentice, R McAlpine, S Sutherland, B Macpherson, T Spinks, P McCallum©. Subs: L Anderson, R Grant, J Agnew, P Dewhirst, J Bova.
Boroughmuir: Tries: Hare 2, Adams, Davies; Cons: Laidlaw 4.
Ayr: Tries: Climo 2, Armstrong, MacPherson; Cons: Climo, Lyle; Pen: Lyle; DG; Climo.
Yellow Card: Mncube (Boroughmuir)
Scoring sequence: (Boroughmuir first) 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 14-0, 14-5, 14-7 (h-t) 14-12, 19-12, 21-12, 21-17, 21-24, 26-24, 28-24, 28-27, 28-30
Man-of-the Match: There were several contenders on both sides but a try double and a sweetly struck winning drop-goal means that Frazier Climo deserves the honour.
Talking Point: There was a decent crowd generating a lot of noise and if it is entertainment they are after, neutrals will surely want to see more of this.