STUART RUTHERFORD @ Old Anniesland
A FIVE-STAR display secured five points for Ayr as they headed to the top of BT Premiership with one round of fixtures remaining. With six different try scorers on the day, the visitors showcased their attacking talents throughout and will be delighted with the final outcome in a match that could easily be a dress rehearsal for next months play-off semi-final. Hawks, on the other hand, lacked potency for the duration of the 80 minutes and will be bitterly upset with how they were unable to stretch Ayr’s defence, especially during the ten minute period when it was down to fourteen men.
“I thought it was a really disciplined performance, which was excellent to see.” said Ayr ahead coach Calum Forrester.
“Going forward, each game is knock-out rugby, so I thought the boys rose to challenge exceptionally well. Throughout the match we showed some real character, especially when we were down to 14 men at the end of the half. We never really had an eye on the Melrose match, we just knew today that a win would secure a home semi-final and we’re more than happy to be there.”
For Hawks, it was a disappointing showing in their final home game of the season. The Old Anniesland faithful have been treated to several exhibitions of high-flying rugby this season, however, they were never able to get out of the blocks and in the end were simply outclassed by a more organised unit – although head coach Finlay Gillie insisted the he was not feeling too disheartened.
“I didn’t feel like the scoreline really reflected the game,” he insisted. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s disappointing to be on the end of a defeat and we realise its two-nil Ayr at the moment, but they were just clinical on the day. I’m actually proud of how the guys battled throughout. Tommy Spinks was an absolute monster for us. We know to beat a team like Ayr, we need to be at our best and sadly we just weren’t at our best today.”
It was the visitors Ayr who were able to apply the initial pressure after a neat handling move down the blindside between Archie Russell and Ross Curle released Craig Gossman, who made significant ground into the hosts’ 22 before he was eventually chopped down. With Ayr in the ascendance and looking to move the ball wide swiftly, it was fed to Frazier Climo, who dummied to Scott Sutherland before clumsily colliding with the second-row, which gave the referee no other option but to blow his whistle for an accidental offside.
It wasn’t long, however, before Ayr grabbed the first points of the afternoon, and they came after fantastic footballing skills from Danny McCluskey, who dislodged the ball wth a monstrous tackle on Kerr Gossman, then applied his left boot to initiate a footrace to the try-line. With several Hawk’s defenders in his vicinity, the winger deftly dribbled the ball twenty yards before gathering and popping to the supporting Craig Gossman, who had the presence of mind to draw his opposite man before offloading to Curle, who had the simple task of diving over the whitewash.
With the bit between their teeth, Ayr were quick to double their advantage and this time it came courtesy of David Armstrong’s quick thinking. Following a number of unsuccessful scrums on the Hawk’s five-metre-line, that referee Dunc McClement – much to the displeasure of the home support – called to be re-set, the ball was eventually secured and gathered from the base of the scrum by Armstrong, who then threw a wicked dummy before diving underneath the posts. With Climo chipping over the resulting conversion, the score was 12-0.
With 30 minutes on the clock and Ayr controlling the lion’s share of possession in midfield, they very nearly gifted Hawks their first try of the afternoon. After a loose pass was spilled by Curle, the ball was swiftly picked up by prop Gary Strain, who had had nothing but acres of real estate ahead of him, but he didn’t quite have the legs to escape the scrambling Ayr defence.
With the hosts looking to move the ball from the resulting ruck quickly, Curle was caught with his hands on the ball and was quite rightly sent to the sin-bin.
Hawks looked to take advantage of their numerical advantage before the stroke of half-time, however, a number of spilled passes and all round poor goal-line execution was to blame for their lack of potency; and they left the pitch at the break with zero points to their name, despite a balanced first half display.
The second-half half began slowly, with the main highlight being a Gossman on Gossman high tackle, which resulted in the Hawk’s family member being shown a yellow card. Of course, player safety is no laughing matter, however, there was an air of comedy about the incident, which left both brothers chuckling as Kerr was given his marching orders.
Ayr were quick to take advantage and their third try of the afternoon came after a fantastic display of pace from hate sibling still on the park. After securing a line-out deep inside Hawk’s territory, the ball was fed to substitute Gregor Henry, who made up a number of tough yards, despite several attempts to bring him down. From the resulting ruck, the ball was played up the blind-side to Gossman, who stepped inside and darted into the 22, before drawing his man and popping to the supporting Curle, who ghosted under sticks.
For a while it seemed as though Ayr may be heading home with just four points to their name, however, a fourth try eventually materialised when captain Pete McCallum crashed over foreclose range.
Hawks did manage to score a late consolation through Gossman, but that was soon overshadowed by a late flurry of scores for Ayr from Jamie Bova and McCluskey.
Glasgow Hawks: J Steele; J Bulumakau, B McGroarty, D Milne, K Gossman; H Schulte, S Yacoubian; L Archer, C Fenton, G Strain, T Uanivi, A Kirkland, S Leckey, M Smith, T Spinks. Subs: G Stewart, C Barnes, A Linton, P Kelly, A Lowry.
Ayr: G Anderson; D McCluskey, A Russell, R Curle, C Gossman; F Climo, D Armstrong; G Hunter, D Young, S Longwell, R McAlpine, S Sutherland, B Macpherson, W Bordill, P McCallum. Subs: L Anderson, A Prentice, G Henry, P Dewhirst, J Bova.
Referee: Dunc McClement
Glasgow Hawks: Try: Gossman; Con: Schulte
Ayr: Tries: Russell, Armstrong, Curle, McCallum, Bova, McCluskey; Cons: Climo 3
Scoring sequence (Glasgow Hawks first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12 (h-t) 0-17; 0-19 0-24; 5-24; 7-24; 7-29; 7-31; 7-36
Yellow cards –
Glasgow Hawks: K Gossman
Ayr: R Curle
Man-of-the-Match: Ayr’s pocket dynamic Craig Gossman was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch. Perhaps it was the rivalry of playing against his sibling – but the stalky winger played like a man twice his size and was involved in several of the visitors’ scores.
Talking point: Although Ayr’s Calum Forrester didn’t show it, he will be absolutely delighted with securing a bonus point this afternoon. Melrose do, of course, have a game in hand, but this result firmly heaps the pressure on the Borders outfit in their final two fixtures.
Image courtesy: George McMillan