AYR took a big step towards securing their survival in National League Division One with a late win over Cartha Queens Park on Saturday. The 13-8 result, coupled with a 27-13 win for Stirling Wolves in the City of Discovery, means that Dundee High’s relegation has been confirmed. The most points Dundee could end the season with is 31 and third bottom Kelso are already on 33.
Ayr are in ninth place and on 34 points now – 16 points clear of Boroughmuir who are in the second relegation spot currently – after a penalty try at the death saw them triumph in their match with Cartha.
Ross McCorkindale’s penalty gave Ayr an early lead before Cartha scored a try through Anthony Nyangweso. A second McCorkindale penalty made it 6-5 to Ayr at the break before Wayne Burrows responded in kind to make it 8-6 to the visitors. Ayr piled on the pressure late on and, with Cartha reduced to 14 men due to a yellow card, the hosts went over for a penalty try in the 80th minute.
“We were delighted to get the win,” beamed Ayr head coach Stuart Fenwick. “The boys showed real character and maturity not to panic when they were trailing going into the last 10 minutes having had little possession in the second half and having to soak up a lot of pressure. We defended really well and the boys took their opportunity at the end when it mattered and got the win.”
The Dundee High match with Stirling Wolves, which was moved to the Regional Performance Centre at Caird Park, ended in disappointment for the hosts. Finlay Ormiston and Sam Cardosi scored tries for Dundee and Fraser Mackay kicked a penalty, but Colin Sangster’s men must now start planning for life in National League Division Two in 2020-21.
The Wolves tries were scored by Fraser Muir, Andy Orr and Jonny Hope. Captain Hope also kicked 12 points. “We were really pleased with the result and I thought we controlled the game well,” said Wolves head coach Chris Faill, whose side are now fifth in the table.
“We knew Dundee would come out hard, but we dealt with that and got an early lead and controlled the first half. Dundee got a bit of momentum at the start of the second half which we managed to stop and score a try to put us back in control. The only disappointment was we couldn’t secure the bonus point fourth try.”
At the other end of the table, Biggar took another big step towards the title with a thumping 42-10 win at Melrose. The Hartreemill men dominated at The Greenyards in the second half after leading just 14-10 at half-time. The bonus point triumph came thanks to tries from Richard Basset (2), Chris Mulligan, Euan Sanderson, Robbie Orr and Ross Jackson, while Andy Jardine kicked six from six conversion attempts. Aiden Cross scored a try for fourth placed Melrose with David Colvine kicking five points.
Heriot’s Blues are 15 points behind Biggar in second with a game in hand after a 36-7 win over Kelso at Goldenacre. Adam Woolfson, Cameron Lineen (2), Craig Robertson, Dom Martin and Stewart Mustard scored Heriot’s tries in the bonus point victory, with Graham Wilson kicking three conversions.
“It was a good win in challenging conditions against a Kelso team that have had some decent results of late,” said Blues head coach Jamie Parker. “The boys worked really hard in the first half playing against the wind and managed to score four tries before the break.
“In the second half, it was a bit messy as the wind and rain picked up as did the error count. I think the boys found it harder playing with the wind as it increased. Overall, hats off to the boys as they continued to try and play and were rewarded with a further two tries, it was an important five points for us after narrowly losing out at Poynder Park earlier in the season.”
Arran Jackson was Kelso’s try scorer with skipper Murray Hastie kicking a conversion.
Gala have jumped ahead of Watsonians into sixth after they ended the Edinburgh side’s unbeaten home record at Myreside. The hosts were 19-7 up, but the Borderers battled back to come out on top 20-19. Rex Jeffrey and Jack Easson scored tries for Gala with Dean Keddie and Ross Cooke kicking points.
“It was a great team performance in very difficult playing conditions,” said Gala head coach Opeta Palepoi. “It was never the conditions for playing fast or wide rugby, so very happy with how the lads played things. We controlled the game better in the second half, winning the territory battle and applying pressure when in their half which I believe won us the game. I’m very chuffed with the win and the performance.”
Watsonians are now seventh after picking up a losing bonus point through tries from Jack Currie, Guy Kelly and Angus Small. Kerr Stoddart converted two of them with another effort coming off the post.
Boroughmuir versus Highland was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
National League Division One results –
Heriot’s Blues 36 Kelso 7
Ayr 13 Cartha Queens Park 8
Melrose 10 Biggar 42
Watsonians 19 Gala 20
Dundee High 13 Stirling Wolves 27
How it stands –