Super6: dominant first half for Ayrshire Bulls blows Boroughmuir Bears away

Visitors bounced back to be competitive after the break but couldn't claw their way back from 24-3 down

Ayrshire Bulls second-row Ed Bloodsworth collects line-out ball against Boroughmuir Bears. Image courtesy: SNS / Scottish Rugby
Ayrshire Bulls second-row Ed Bloodsworth collects line-out ball against Boroughmuir Bears. Image courtesy: SNS / Scottish Rugby

Ayrshire Bulls 24

Boroughmuir Bears 10

IAIN HAY @ Millbrae

A DELUGE of torrential rain during the opening period brought the points with it for Ayrshire Bulls, as a storming 40 minutes took them out of sight to hold off the attempted clawback of Boroughmuir Bears.

“I was disappointed after week one [the 21-26 home reverse to Watsonians] and we said we’d tweak a few things after the game,” said victorious head coach Pat McArthur afterwards. “I thought the boys stuck well with it in the first half.”

In the opening minute, Ryan Sweeney won a turnover penalty on halfway which Christian Townsend sent to touch, and when the maul was illegally hauled down, the young stand-off stroked over the first points of the game with barely two minutes on the clock.

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Sweeney’s flanking partner Yaree Fantini then repeated the trick of winning a turnover penalty and gaining Bulls points, and in the first half in particular it was the home side who dominated the breakdown area, and therefore the scoreboard.

The scrum, however, proved to be an area of contention – when does it not? – and the Bears initially seemed to be getting the upper hand, but referee Graeme Ormiston seemed to take umbrage in particular with Ross Dunbar’s technique. He penalised him three times in the first half, and the second of these had led to Ayr’s first try.

Once Dunbar and Bulls’ Michael Scott had finished testing the build quality of each other’s jerseys, Townsend opted for the corner, and a slick set-piece move which saw Robbie Nairn take up the old Tommy Seymour-at-Warriors role of moving infield to take the ball from scrum-half Jordan Lenac then weaving past the first challenge and releasing Tom Jordan for a race to the line from just inside the 22.

Tom Pittman’s penalty effort from the Bulls’ 10 metre line didn’t look the cleanest of strikes but the ball squeezed over the crossbar to get the Bears off to the mark, but from the restart Nairn’s excellent chase caused a spill by Callum Ramm which handed possession back to the Bulls. A few phases later they were awarded the penalty for offside and Townsend wiped out Pittman’s effort.

There was more bad news for Bears when both Rory Drummond – with a hamstring injury – and Ramm were forced from the field of play in quick succession.

Scott burrowed his way over from a maul to stretch the lead, and he won that third penalty of the afternoon in his head-to-head with Dunbar on the stroke of half-time, which Townsend knocked over to take his personal tally to 14, and the scoreboard to 24-3 in Bulls’ favour.

The thunderstorms which had begun about half an hour before kick-off began to let up as half-time approached, and as the weather conditions improved the game became less stop-start and the Bears begin to gain the upper claw.

For all of their huffing and puffing, however, they simply couldn’t break past the Bulls’ defence, whether that was from short or long-range.

Jordan put in a thumping tackle in his own 22 to prevent one Bear attack, Kaleem Barreto’s snipe and break from his own half was stopped when Matt Davidson met him before any support could arrive.

Ayr’s captain Blair MacPherson was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on to give Bears a man advantage for 10 minutes, but still they could not break through, with winger Jordan Edmunds denied  when Aaron Tait bundled him just into touch with the try-line beckoning.

Replacement Trystan Andrews did eventually reduce the gap with about quarter of an hour remaining. After a succession of penalties, he peeled off the back of a scrum, showed a robust fend and crossed, but it was all the Bears could muster for their second-half domination.

“To be honest, at half-time we would have taken that outcome”, said the Bears’ head coach Graham Shiel. “We were outplayed, outmuscled, and outthought which was disappointing compared to what we’d done last week and previous meetings.

“It’s not an easy place to come, to get anything you have to work hard and earn it, and we’re pleased with the second half. We sort of said: ‘It’s 0-0 at half-time, let’s get back out there’, and it’s a small win to take that second half.”

Of the second period, McArthur opined: “We didn’t quite have the control, I thought the physicality of the boys was brilliant and we set a benchmark with the forwards.

“I wouldn’t say it was complacency, we just didn’t control the territory as well as in the first half, especially with the weather as it is. There’s always going to be a swing in momentum at points, and we defended really well.”

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Teams –

Ayrshire Bulls: Matt Davidson; Aaron Tait (Elias Caven 66), Tom Williams, Tom Jordan (Tom Lanni 75), Robbie Nairn; Christian Townsend, Jordan Lenac (Harry Warr 52); George Thornton (Ruairidh Sayce 59), Rhodri Tanner (Alex McGuire 55), Michael Scott; Tom Everard, Edward Bloodworth (Ewan Bulger 75); Ryan Sweeney (Gavin Wilson 68), Yaree Fantini, Blair MacPherson.

Boroughmuir Bears: Glen Faulds; Callum Ramm (Martin Cimprich 33), Michael Gray, Robbie McCallum, Jordan Edmunds; Tom Pittman, Kaleem Barreto (Kyle McGhie 68); Ross Dunbar (George Cave 48), Craig McKenzie, Dan Winning (AP McWilliam 68); Ewan Stewart (Fisher 52), Euan Ferrie; Craig Keddie, Rhys Tait (Mzwandile Mncube 59), Rory Drummond (Trystan Andrews 32).

Referee: Graeme Ormiston


Scorers –

Ayrshire Bulls: Try: Jordan, Scott; Con: Townsend; Pen: Townsend 4.

Boroughmuir Bears: Try: Andrews; Con: Pittman; Pen: Pittman.

Scoring Sequence (Ayrshire Bulls first): 3-0; 6-0; 11-0; 13-0; 13-3; 16-3; 21-3; 24-3 (h-t) 24-8; 24-10.


Yellow Card –

Bulls: Macpherson (58mins)


Man-of-the-Match: Although the official award was given to Edward Bloodworth,  Tom Jordan showed up well on both sides of the ball. There were two or three big gainline stopping hits and he read the play well for his try.

Talking Point: The Bulls conceded a large number of penalties in that second period and can count themselves fortunate to only have one man sent to the bin during that period.

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About Iain Hay 73 Articles
New to the freelancing journalistic world as of August 2019, Iain has previously written for The Scottish Rugby Blog since 2017, covering matches for Glasgow Warriors, Scotland and opinion pieces. Can also often be heard on their podcast flapping his gums about the oval-ball (technically, it’s ellipsoidal) game and being pedantic. Is rumoured to believe that Finn Russell is The Messiah. Does the Twitter thing, but doesn’t like it.


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