Tennent's Premiership

AYR 43


By Callum Kerr

PETER Murchie's men made it three from three in the Tennent's Premiership on Saturday when they downed Stirling County 43-15 at Millbrae.

After a tense first half Ayr squeezed into the break with a narrow 17-15 lead but stretched their legs in the last half hour taking the game away from the visitors.

The win also means Ayr will etch themselves onto the Bill McLaren Shield for the second time - the only club to do so.

Early Stirling were the busier of the two teams and they managed to get their noses in front after just eight minutes. The ever-tricky Niko Matawalu, who was on draft release from Warriors, managed to wriggle through slack defence before perfectly executing an offload out the back door to Ewan Magarvie who ran in. Andrew Goudie's conversion was good.

Ayr retaliated in nine minutes, winning a penalty from the restart. Climo lined up the posts and made no mistake.

Stirling were still looking sharper and with other Warrior Ratu Tagive on the opposite wing from Niko, they looked a constant threat when the ball was shipped wide. A cross-field kick in 11 minutes fell perfectly into the hands of Tagive but Craig Gossman made the covering tackle and force the knock on.

Unfortunately for Ayr it only postponed the score, and a couple of minutes later County were back in for their second. Tagive broke a tackle and marched up the field. Grant Anderson pulled off terrific scrambling defence to bring down the towering Aussie but a perfectly-weighted offload gifted the supporting Ross Bundy an easy score. Goudie's conversion drifted wide.

Ayr needed a lift and in 20 minutes, Frazier Climo supplied it. From a scrum Climo glided through a gap in the defence and sprinted for the line. He was brought down short with the ball eventually lost but for the first time in the game Ayr spotted weakness.

Ayr would get their score minutes later and it came from Blair Macpherson, who barged over in midfield- taking a few tacklers along with him. Climo's conversion made it a two-point game.

Stirling maintained their high possession rate. For 10 minutes, they set up camp in Ayr's 22. Monstrous tackles from the hosts kept them at bay, with Marshall Sykes and Robbie Smith starring.

Stirling soon settled for three points, with Goudie making no mistake with a routine penalty.

With the half fast approaching Stirling sat five points clear and were content to keep the ball in enemy territory, but Ayr had one last card to play. Grant Anderson, whose presence so far in the game had been fully-defensive, finally clocked an open patch of grass and began to charge back at the opposition. The Ayr veteran diced his way through a scattered defence before swinging an audacious pass inside to winger Kyle Rowe. Climo's conversion gave Ayr a two-point lead at the break.

Kyle Rowe doubled-up four minutes after the break, grabbing his fifth try in just three appearances. The conversion slipped wide.

The momentum had swung.

County then had a golden opportunity. Former Ayr scrum-half Peter Jericevich sniped blind from five metres out to what looked like no-one home but a rogue hand - later discovered to be Grant Anderson's - managed to haul him into touch over the try line.

The next score came courtesy of David Corbenici, dotting down for the second week running. From the midfield Corbenici hit a direct running line over the top of the County defenders, Climo's conversion made it 29-15.

Stirling still maintained their big wedge of possession but efficient Ayr made them pay anytime the visitors coughed up the ball. This was epitomised when Stafford McDowall danced up the field from deep in his own half after a period of sustained attack from County. His break put Ayr in a comfortable position.

County's direct running was becoming undone by stiff defence.

Ayr weren't done yet. Two tries in quick succession was the icing on top of an emphatic victory. Macpherson crossed over in the same vein as his first with Amir Rademaker finishing off a beautiful counter-attacking play on his starting debut.

The 2nd XVdefeated County 45-29. Jamie Bova was Man-of-the-Match.