BT Cup Quarter-Finals
by Elena Hogarth
AYR didn’t so much race into the semi-finals of the BT Cup as trudge in their comfortable win against Jed-Forest at a soggy Millbrae.
The hosts were leaving nothing to chance and fielded their strongest team, which was just as well as the Borderers, a league below Ayr in BT National League One, didn’t let the BT Premiership leaders get things all their own way.
The visitors endured a difficult start, however, with Ayr man of the match Will Bordill and prop Steven Longwell crashing over for early tries. Stand-off Frazier Climo converted both and added another later.
But Jed didn’t take fright. Instead, they put together a sturdy scrum (their line-out was a wobbly affair) and unleashed their speedy backs as much as the muddy pitch would let them.
They demonstrated just why they reached the final of last year’s Melrose 7s, as centres Monty Mitchell and Gregor Young carved up the midfield and winger (and one-time Ayr player) Robbie Shirra Gibb flew away for a try. Stand-off Robbie Yourston added the extras.
They had maybe got themselves a bit too fired up as a few scuffles broke out here and there, with one involving several players spilling off the pitch. Mitchell found himself in the sin bin after one such altercation, whilst Ayr’s Scott Sutherland was rather harshly shown a yellow card when referee David Sutherland (no relation, we hope) seemed to think he had tried to trip someone. Jed full-back Lewis Young then lost his team a penalty when Sutherland had had enough of his petulance.
Jed didn’t score any further points after Shirra Gibb’s try but they made Ayr work hard for theirs. Home captain Pete McCallum added two before half-time, battering his way through the defence. In the second half, winger Craig Gossman was fleet of foot on the increasingly boggy surface, and scored two, pouncing on a loose ball first and then minutes later taking a pass from McCallum to fight off tacklers and run in.
Ayr had further chances through Bordill and 18-year-old replacement scrum-half Harry Warr, who once again impressed with his swift service and bossing of the game, but Jed’s tireless tackling kept them away from the try-line.
The win means Ayr will now play west coast rivals Glasgow Hawks in the semi-final on Saturday 25th March at Millbrae, with a repeat in the BT Premiership play-off semi-final two weeks later looking likely too.
Ayr head coach Calum Forrester was satisfied with the win and said later: “At the start of the season, you always want to try and put yourself in a position to compete for trophies, and that’s what we’ve done. We can now prepare for two home semi-finals.”
Meanwhile Ayr-Wellington U18 boys will be preparing for a home final on Saturday 25th March, as their 17-6 win against GHA U18s in the semi-finals of the West Regional Cup last weekend means they will face Hamilton U18s in a bid to retain the trophy.
Ayr-Wellington U16 boys made the semi-final of their West Regional Cup with a 59-7 victory over East Kilbride, while Ayr-Wellington U15 girls were also winners against the same club in the West League.