Tennent’s Premiership: Rowe double gives Ayr the edge over Accies

Visitors race into 18 point half-time lead but top-flight new boys battle back after the break

Edinburgh Accies v Ayr
Image courtesy: John Williamson

Edinburgh Accies 17

Ayr 30

GARY HEATLY @ Raeburn Place

AYR managed to get their Tennent’s Premiership campaign off to a winning start, but they were made to battle hard by new boys Edinburgh Accies who certainly did not look out of place on their top flight return.

The visitors, who finished runners-up after the play-offs last term, looked to be on easy street at 18-0 up in the first half, but Accies came back firing with a try just before the break. That galvanised them, and they got things back to within a point in the second half before two late tries sealed it for Ayr. For the victors, winger Kyle Rowe scored two tries and impressed on debut,  while for Accies young duo Robbie Davis and George Spencer looked sharp.

“We found a way to win – that’s the pleasing thing,” Ayr head coach Peter Murchie said. “When we were 18-0 up in the first half I thought we would go on and dominate, but credit to Accies, they battled away and we couldn’t get any go forward in our attack in the second half.

“Then Kyle Rowe popped up with a superb try, and I think young guys like him, Ollie Smith and others will have learnt a lot from this match. We must improve for next week.”

Apartments in Leith

Quick off the mark

Ayr got off to the perfect start, scoring a try after four minutes. Winger Jamie Bova powered down the left and then flipped the ball back inside to full-back Grant Anderson, who dotted down for the day’s opening points. Stand-off Scott Lyle missed the conversion, while his opposite number Richard Mill was also off target with a penalty after seven minutes.

After some strong running back back-row duo Tommy Spinks and Blair Macpherson, Ayr were awarded a penalty just to the left of the posts in the Accies 22’ in the 11th minute, and this time Lyle made no mistake this time. Accies then enjoyed a good period of pressure with Scotland cap Rory Sutherland, released by Edinburgh Rugby to play at loosehead, and centre Spencer carrying well in attack.

Bova, who was in and out of the Ayr team last season, looks like he has put in a great pre-season and means business this time around and his physicality caused Accies bother whenever the ball was shipped left. However, it was on the right that their second try of the day came in the 28th minute. A quick lineout saw scrum-half David Armstrong burst up the right and he fed Scotland under-20 cap Rowe, the winger doing the rest to score his first try for the club since joining from Glasgow Hawks.

With Ayr beginning to show their quality and put the league newcomers under a lot of pressure, try No 3 soon followed. This time the forwards did the hard work, driving over on the right with Macpherson scoring at the Inverleith Park end of the ground.

Fair play to Accies their heads never went down despite those two tries in quick succession and, thanks to the promptings of scrum-half Davis, got themselves into the visitors’ 22. From a scrum in front of the Ayr posts, back-row Ruairi Campbell went close before the ball was shipped wide and Spencer went over for his side’s first points. Mill could not convert, but the try gave Accies something to build on for the second period, trailing as they did 18-5.

Second half

Early in the second half both teams made changes, Clem Lacour coming on in the front row for Accies, with Glasgow Warriors’ hooker James Malcolm and back-row Gregor Henry coming on for Ayr. As the 50th minute came and went the replacements kept on coming, but the score remained the same and Accies needed something to give them a second wind.

The other Tennent’s Premiership match reports this week –

Tennent’s Premiership: Heriot’s pack power blows Hawks away

Tennent’s Premiership: Watsonians edge it as County rue missed opportunities

Tennent’s Premiership: Rowe double gives Ayr the edge over Accies

Tennent’s Premiership: Currie Chieftains prove their quality as Boroughmuir flatter to deceive

It came nearly 10 minutes later when a looping pass by Davis was picked up well by winger Cameron Gray, and the former Currie Chieftains man went over in the corner. Mill could not convert, but it was certainly game on. On the hour mark Lyle had a chance to kick a penalty for Ayr, but he slipped as he kicked the ball and the effort went wide.

Accies show steel

Accies certainly had their tails up by this point, and with 15 minutes remaining they scored a converted try to take them within one point of the opposition. Captain Jamie Sole galloped down the left and, with the try line in sight, managed to feed Spencer, who went over for his second try of the day, with Mill nailing the conversion.

Ayr were looking jittery at that stage, but then Rowe came up with a moment of magic. He came off his wing and burst through the Accies defence to score just to the right of the posts.

Lyle’s woes with the boot continued, the conversion being hooked wide to leave the Millbrae men with a six-point advantage with nine minutes remaining. They made sure of the away day victory when Club XV cap Macpherson went over for his second try – and Ayr’s fifth – with a couple of minutes to go. This time Lyle made no mistake with the conversion.

There is always some uncertainty as to how newly-promoted sides will fare in the top flight, but Accies head coach Derek O’Riordan was encouraged by how well his team had competed. “The great thing for me is that we certainly didn’t look out of place in this division,” he said.

“If our decision-making can improve at certain times then we’ve shown that we’re going to be a handful for teams. The guys can take a lot of heart from this.”

Supporting AYR RFC

Teams –

Edinburgh Accies: R Chalmers; C Gray, G Spencer, N Armstrong, C Ramm; R Mill, R David; R Sutherland, C Black, J Pearse, R Seydak, M Badenhorst, J Sole, R Campbell, L Seydak. Subs: N Hall, C Lacour, S Hagerty, M Love, J Loomes.

Ayr: G Anderson; K Rowe, O Smith, D McCluskey, J Bova; S Lyle, D Armstrong; R Sayce, R Smith, S Longwell, L Scott, M Sykes, D Corbenici, T Spinks, B Macpherson. Subs: J Malcolm, E McLaren, G Henry, A Rademaker, R Nairn.

Referee: D Sutherland.

Scorers: Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Spencer 2, Gray. Con: Mill.

Ayr: Tries: Anderson, Rowe 2, Macpherson 2. Con: Lyle. Pen: Lyle.

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 0-5, 0-8, 0-13, 0-18, 5-18 half-time, 10-18, 15-18, 17-18, 17-23, 17-28, 17-30.

Man of the Match: Two tries on his debut means that Ayr’s Kyle Rowe gets the nod. The winger’s second try was particularly important, digging his side out of a hole as he showed great awareness to come off his flank and score.

Talking Point: Who said Accies were going to be the whipping boys? They certainly will not be if they can perform like this week in and week out, while young Robbie Davis and George Spencer are ones to watch.

Tennent’s Premiership: Watsonians edge it as County rue missed opportunities


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Gary Heatly
About Gary Heatly 54 Articles
Gary has had a love for both rugby and writing for as far back as he can remember. Having cut his teeth in the ‘real world’ of journalism at the Midlothian Advertiser local newspaper for a couple of years between 2005 and 2007, he has since been kept busy covering sport, mainly rugby. He was a member of the editorial team at SCRUM Magazine for 11 years until recently and now provides regular rugby content to various national and local newspapers, magazines and websites via his company GH Media as well as hosting a podcast. Twitter: G_HMedia