Ayrshire Bulls 30
Stirling County 8
IAIN HAY @ Millbrae
A DOMINANT second half display from the home side saw the Bulls race to the top of the Super 6 table (at least until Watsonians play their game in hand tomorrow) with a convincing victory over Stirling County, on a day which turned wild in the west, and also saw the lights go out at Millbrae.
“Second half I thought we were excellent in terms of how we approached the game,” was the opinion of Bulls’ head coach Peter Murchie. “I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to work ourselves into an area of the pitch where we could score the fourth try, but the guys executed it really well. Come the wash out at the end of the season it could be a big point
“We had to absorb a little bit of pressure, but the guys coming on did a good job in securing that fourth try bonus.”
Ross Thompson opened the scoring for the Bulls in the 18th minute with a straight-forward penalty, before a shinned box kick by Stirling County scrum-half Caleb Korteweg was played from an offside position by County and Thompson sent a wonderful kick into the corner. From there, a 10-man maul with Sam Kitchen at the back of it was able to power over the line, making it 8-0 to the hosts.
Thompson was involved in the next scoring opportunity when he knocked on the restart, giving the scrum put-in to Stirling. Nicolas Griffiths was pinged for collapsing and, even though the wind had started picking up just before kick-off, Andrew Goudie judged it well to get County moving on the scoreboard.
The inclement conditions then brought a bit of drama as it knocked the power out throughout Ayr, and there was a touch of concern as to whether the floodlight failure and bleak overhead conditions could lead to a postponement. Indeed, Ayr’s National One match against Biggar had to be moved, but with this being 2pm kick-off it was reckoned we’d be fine to continue before it became too dark.
Two minutes later, there was more drama. Gordon “Gordzilla” Reid may have been the banter king of Japan, but whatever it was he said in earshot of referee Ben Blain was considered worthy of a yellow card, leaving his team short-handed for the final ten minutes of the first half. Bulls’ head coach Peter Murchie confirmed afterwards that Reid had been getting frustrated with some of the calls at scrum-time, but the experienced loose-head really k should now better.
It proved costly for the home side. Ollie Smith did prevent Robbie Kent’s pass from finding Ewan MacGarvie for a simple run-in when Stirling had penalty advantage, and then Cameron Henderson was held up over the line, but from that scrum Goudie was fed by half-back partner Korteweg and weaved over the try-line.
Although he missed the conversion, Goudie then had the opportunity to put County in the lead just before half-time, however a huge gust of wind sent his penalty effort onto the post. County did recover possession, but an excellent cover tackle by Smith prevented Logan Trotter from scoring in the left-hand corner.
At the start of the second half, Reid came back onto the pitch, and to prove that he felt no hard feelings toward Mr Blain, gave him a little hug.
The charm offensive worked at a treat, as Bulls then started to get the calls. Reid marched through his opposite number at the next scrum, allowing the home team to get into the County 22, where once again their maul work proved to be effective and Sam Kitchen added another try to his tally.
With the rain now also belting down and Bulls dominating the set-pieces, it became one-way traffic. Graham Geldenhuys ran on to a cheeky Kitchen line-out, but was held up, however captain Blair Macpherson was soon over after consistent pressure on the County line.
Thompson knocked over another penalty, and in a boost which moves Ayr top of the table for at least a few hours, they claimed the bonus-point score after the hooter had sounded.
Fancy feet and off-loading from replacement props Michael Scott and Ruairidh Sayce set them on their way, Macpherson found Matt Davidson, who looked left to see Ollie Smith, and the full-back breezed over the line, sparking a bit of a brouhaha between both sides.
“Feeling a little bit of déjà vu,” said disappointed Stirling County boss Ben Cairns afterwards. “Generally, we’re putting ourselves in good positions in matches, then we shoot ourselves in the foot in the second half. We need to figure out why that’s happening.
“I don’t feel like it’s a fatigue thing, certainly our execution goes down a bit second half. We just need to figure why that’s the case.”
Ayrshire Bulls: O Smith; T Lewis, D McCluskey, T Jordan, M Davidson; R Thompson, D Armstrong; G Reid, S Kitchen, N Griffiths, M Sykes, L Morrice, G Bordill, G Geldenhuys, B Macpherson. Subs: A McGuire, M Scott, R Sayce, F Hastie, G Wilson, H Warr, F Climo, R Nairn.
Stirling County: E MacGarvie; A McLean, R Kent, L Hayes, L Trotter; A Goudie, C Korteweg; C Brown, R Kennedy, M Walker, A Davidson, C Henderson, G Arnott, M Smith, A Ashe. Subs: B Robertson, A Wood, F Bradbury, J, Pow, O Bartlett, S Kennedy, C Gordon, E Cunningham.
Referee: Ben Blain
Ayrshire Bulls: Tries: Kitchen 2; Macpherson, Smith; Con: Thompson; Pen: Thompson.
Stirling County: Try: Goudie; Pen: Goudie.
Scoring sequence (Bulls first): 3-0; 8-0; 10-0; 10-3; 10-8 (h-t) 15-8; 20-8; 22-8; 25-8; 30-8.
Yellow Cards –
Ayrshire Bulls: Reid
Man-of-the-Match: You could throw a sink at him, but you can’t stop Sam Kitchen from scoring. That’s five from five for the Aussie hooker now.
Talking Point: Although Peter Murchie felt like his side allowed Stirling too much multi-phase ball in the first half, the Bulls’ defence has to take a lot of credit. That’s two arm-wrestles in the last two weeks, with a grand total of 8 points conceded. As well as Smith’s cover tackle at the end of the first half, scrum-half David Armstrong also made a separate potential try-saver on Trotter, when Stirling looked to counter with the scores at 10-8.