RUGBY: Elena Hogarth

AYR Ladies were beaten 50-10 in BT Premier League B by a ferocious Watsonians side on Sunday, but there were positives for the women in pink and black.

It’s been a tough season for them as they have had to build up their squad after several players retired or moved on.

They have been on a recruitment drive, and many of the players who have turned out for them since September have been new to the game, and their improvement showed against the team from Edinburgh.

Heavy rain and occasional snow in Ayrshire throughout the week meant the fixture was moved to the artificial pitch at Marr College, and with firm ground beneath their feet, running rugby was on the cards for both sets of players.

Danni Hands, Rowan Kerr, Erin Marner-Low and Robynn Gibson – all new to Ayr this season – and Neve Finlay and Shania Irvine – products of the youth system at the club – were confident with ball in hand and made metres in the early exchanges before fly-half Catherine Shennan put Ayr into the lead with a penalty.

But Watsonians struck a blow – the first of many – with a flying try. Ayr quickly replied. A brilliant break through midfield by number eight Joanne Jones – a real find last season who has honed her game over the summer – sliced the Watsonians defence in two.

Jones was well supported by 17-year-old Finlay, who took the offload perfectly and powered her way over the line. Shennan converted, but sadly that would be Ayr’s last points.

It wasn’t for want of trying though. The powerful front row of captain Laura Turner, Lisa Croniken and Louise McLauchlan bullied the Watsonians scrum and Ayr took more than one against the head. Hands and Jones gave them a torrid time at the line-out too. But Ayr just couldn’t breach that defence.

Countless times in the second half Ayr were right on Watsonians’ line, and countless times maroon and white shirts shoved them back. The visitors were on fire in attack too, scoring eight tries in the end.

Ayr Ladies head coach Stuart Fenwick saw the positives in his team’s efforts and said: "This was a tough one for the squad, but they were determined throughout against a Watsonians team that has some outstanding play-makers in its ranks. Our ladies didn’t tire at the end, which shows how hard they’ve been working in the gym recently. I’m proud of their work-rate and their attitude.”

In the Shogun Conference, the Ayr-Wellington U18 and U16 boys had wins against Biggar, 29-24 and 45-24 respectively.

The Men’s 1st and 2nd XVs return to league action on Saturday, when they take on their Glasgow Hawks counterparts in the BT Premiership and BT National Reserve One away from home.

It doesn’t get any easier for the 1st XV in the run-up to Christmas, with an away trip to the Greenyards the following week against the seemingly unstoppable Melrose, and Currie Chieftains at home on Saturday, December 16, with the Chieftains no doubt on a revenge mission after Ayr narrowly beat them in the BT Cup First Round at the start of November.