Ayrshire Bulls 28
Southern Knights 0
IAIN HAY @ Millbrae
ANOTHER soggy evening in Ayrshire, another bonus point win for the Bulls, as Pat McArthur’s side cemented their position at the top of the Super Series table, for the time being at least.
“Controlling a team that’s come here to spin the ball about and play a loose broken game takes a lot of effort, and to have the bonus point win in the bag, defending five metres from the line with only 10 minutes to go and hold them out really shows the intent of the boys,” said the thoroughly pleased home side’s head coach. “We build through effort, we’ve got a lot of injuries at the moment but I thought they stood up well.”
Bulls’ kicking game was paramount to their success with all four tries coming from the application of boot to ball, and MacArthur highlighted that it had been part of the plan, albeit admitting it’s not exactly his specialty.
“Kicking doesn’t have to be a negative part of the game, there’s a positive way to kick: putting the ball in the correct areas, working out where the backfield is weak, is a big part of what the backs work on,” he said. “The conditions weren’t as bad as we thought, but you’ve got to play what’s in front of you, and if you’re in the right areas of the park you can apply pressure.”
Bulls opened the scoring via speed merchant Luca Bardelli. There appeared to be little threat when he gathered possessionin a wide position and chipped ahead, seemingly, too long, but Bardelli engaged the afterburners and managed to dot down as Aidan Cross tried to shepherd the ball over the dead-ball line.
Bardelli then had to utilise his pace at the other end, a tricky take for opposite winger Thomas Glendinning led to a spill and a Knights’ boot poking ahead, meaning Bardelli had to look sharp to cover in behind and touch down in goal.
Knight’s full-back Donald Crawford had to do likewise soon afterwards when their scrum on halfway was fumbled with Reiss Cullen booting ahead and looking to outsprint Gregor McNeish.
Bulls extended their lead when Christian Townsend’s long cross-kick was taken by Glendinning, who did tremendously to land on his feet despite some contact in the air, and race away to the corner.
The third try came soon after, this time Chris Elliot nudged a long one down the left wing, Knights could only clear to touch, and once the line-out was complete captain Blair Macpherson went over.
With Knights trying to establish a foothold, Allan Ferrie spotted a gap round a ruck and made some good metres, but his pass to Corbin Thunder could only find the hooker’s feet, and although he kicked ahead and Knights regathered, Bulls soon won a turnover penalty through scrum-half Cullen, and then another break by Cross ended with another jackalling penalty for the hosts just before half-time.
Early in the second half, the hard-working Patrick Anderson caught on to McNeish’s dink over the top, and he looked to release Crawford into the 22, but Bardelli stuck a paw out to deflect, which saw him sent to the sin-bin.
Even against 14 and deep in Bulls-land, it was the same story for Knights, pressure only resulting in conceding another breakdown penalty.
Bulls got their bonus point when, playing with penalty advantage from a scrum, Cullen went down the blindside and kicked ahead for the unlikely figure of Macpherson to run on to and claim his second of the evening, before the defensive resilience which so pleased McArthur led to Bulls achieving their second shut-out of the season.
After a tough day at the office – in the case of some of his players it may have been their second office – Knights supremo Alan Tait was irked by the scheduling of the fixture.
“We’ve had a massive game last Saturday against Watsonians and then we wonder how we ended up with Ayr on a Friday night, the furthest point away. Guys had to take days off work and we’ve left some players at home for that reason,” he said.
“It was just a slow, slow start from us, they got in to the 21-0 lead, and played the conditions right by sticking it in behind us. I had a word at half-time to say we were trying to play too much rugby because we’ve been developing that.
“Our attack has been our strongest point but I think we had to realise you can’t attack in these conditions, you’ve just got to put the ball in behind them. Second half we feel we should have had a try or two but full credit to Bulls defence for holding us out.”
Ayrshire Bulls: C Hyde; T Glendinning, C Elliot, B Roderick-Evans, L Bardelli; C Townsend, R Cullen; A Nimmo, A McGuire, C Miller, E Bloodworth, O Baird, L McNamara, T Brown, B Macpherson. Subs: R Tanner, W Farquhar, C Henderson, E Hamilton-Bulger, J Drummond, B Frame, J Drummond, A Bogidrau.
Southern Knights: D Crawford; A Cross, P Anderson, A Hall, C Barrett; G McNeish©, C Bell; J Dobie, L Thompson, D Gamble, A Ferrie, T Nwosu-Hope, M Job, J Rutherford, A Hosking. Subs: C Thunder, C Greer, D Voas, M Reid, B Weir, F Burgess, H Rutherford, H Bentley.
Referee: Ruairi Campbell
Ayrshire Bulls: Tries: Bardelli, Glendinning, Macpherson 2; Cons: Roderick-Evans 4.
Southern Knights: No scorers
Scoring sequence (Ayrshire Bulls first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 21-0 (h-t) 26-0; 28-0.
Yellow Cards –
Bulls: Bardelli, Hamilton-Bulger
Player-of-the-Match: The sponsors went for double-scoring captain Blair Macpherson, but TOL is going to opt for buzzing scrum-half Reiss Cullen whose kicking game led to some troubles for Knights and generally distributed well.
Talking Point: The boot of Welsh-record breaking Brad Roderick-Evans could fire Bulls to glory. His 4 from 4 off the tee were not all straight-forward, particularly in these testing conditions.