Ayr Rugby Football Club
There was almost too much going on in Ayr's BT Premiership match against Gala at Netherdale on Saturday afternoon.  It was no wonder that long after the final whistle had gone, players were still sprawled out on the pitch, and supporters from both sides were wandering around, scratching their heads at what they had just witnessed.
It was a beautiful day in the Borders, but Ayr's preparation had been marred by yet more injuries and late changes to the match day squad.  Not that it seemed to bother them that much.

Early scuffles between the front rows were quickly smoothed over, Ayr swarmed all over Gala, forcing successive turnovers and stand-off Frazier Climo spotted a huge hole in the home defence to break through.  Scrum-half Cameron Taylor, starting in his third different position in four matches, was on Climo's shoulder and took the pass to fly over in the corner.  Climo couldn't get the extras.  0-5.

A few minutes later, Ayr secured their line-out; the ball was fired out to centre Robbie Fergusson, who deftly chipped on and winger Richard Dalgleish tracked it until he could touch down over Gala's line.  The conversion was almost in the same place as the first one and Climo couldn't make it again.  0-10.

Cheered on by their passionate crowd, Gala picked up the pace, with full-back Ruairi Howarth dancing his way up the park, but George Hunter, a prop playing in the second row, and Fergusson were on hand with some hefty tackles and managed a turnover.

Gala got a turnover of their own, only to throw away all their hard work when flanker Craig Borthwick, in possession, charged at prop Steven Longwell with a forearm.  The thud was heard up in the stand, with everyone gasping.  Longwell seemed unharmed but Borthwick was yellow-carded for his recklessness.

Moments later and he was joined in the sin bin by prop Luke Pettie, who was treading a fine line with the referee all afternoon.

Ayr took the line-out and from the ensuing ruck, flanker Andrew Dunlop burst forth and Longwell rumbled to the base of the post for a try.  Climo converted.  0-17.

And they were off again.  Climo made another lovely break, chipped ahead and Pete McCallum, playing at number eight, out-sprinted the defence to grab the bonus-point try.  Climo bashed the conversion over the crossbar.  0-24.

Gala stayed upbeat despite the scoreline and they turned over, winger Craig Robertson racing off for a try.  Howarth missed the conversion.  5-24.

A few handling errors crept in from both teams, but there was strong running from prop Javan Sebastian and full-back Grant Anderson with ball in hand.  It all got a bit heated, both on and off the field.  With the crowd getting fiery, some silly pushing and shoving and shirt-pulling broke out.

Gala kept their cool for long enough to work their way into Ayr's half and with the visitors giving away penalties, the men in maroon took their chance from a line-out to get their second try.  It was hooker Matt Carryer who dived over.  Howarth converted.  12-24.

Climo found himself in the sin bin for a professional foul, but Gala couldn't capitalise on the extra man.  Their line-out throw went wonky and Ayr captain Ross Curle, on his return from injury, tidied up.

Despite a sniping break from scrum-half George Graham, Gala couldn't get anywhere.

The referee had to have a word with Pettie and Sebastian, as the two were getting on each other's nerves.  A handshake cleared the air though and they scrummed down without any nonsense.

A powerful run from the scrum by McCallum released Fergusson, who popped a pass to his captain, with Curle skipping over for try number five.  Unfortunately, his conversion attempt hit the post.  12-29.

Gala returned to the pitch for the second half full of determination.  Ayr weren't helped by an injury to winger Haddon McPherson, but it allowed Russell McKeown to make his first XV debut.

Dunlop's sin-binning was another headache, and Graham dashed over for a try, which Howarth converted.  19-29.

Dunlop was soon joined by Curle, another perpetrator of the professional foul, and with a two-man advantage, replacement prop Gary Adams barged over for a try.  Howarth's kick hit the post.  24-29.

It looked like it was going to be an unholy trinity of three losses for Ayr from winning positions when Robertson ran in for his second try.  It went unconverted.  29-29.

A defeat looked certain when Anderson was red-carded for a high tackle.

Ayr didn't quite go to pieces, but they gave away a penalty for holding on and Craig Dods teed up the kick and easily booted it over.  32-29.

Another penalty followed, for offside this time, and Dods repeated his assured kicking.  35-29.

That was it, surely.  Gala's iconic second row Opeta Palepoi was on the charge and it took two Ayr defenders, Fergusson and McPherson, back on after shaking off a foot injury, to bring down the big man.

A wayward Gala kick gave Ayr a glimmer of hope but their line-out was overthrown and although they reclaimed it and Dalgleish streaked away, he had no support.

It was frantic and disorganised from both sides and each showed a lack of patience and composure.

Ayr got a line-out from a Gala infringement and tried and tried to get through that tough Borders defence to find the line.  They didn't lose their heads this time though and Longwell muscled his way over.  It was down to Climo's conversion and he got it.  35-36.

The clock may have ticked past full time, but they played on.  There was just time for eighteen-year-old Lee Scott to make his debut as Dunlop crawled off the pitch with an ankle injury.  Ayr secured their line-out and Taylor happily booted the ball away to bring an exhausting afternoon to an end.

Final score: Gala 35 Ayr 36.



Gala:
15. Ruairi Howarth; 14. Graham Speirs, 13. Dwayne Burrows, 12. Alan Emond, 11. Craig Robertson; 10. Rex Jeffrey, 9. George Graham; 1. Luke Pettie, 2. Matt Carryer, 3. Chris Keen; 4. Opeta Palepoi, 5. Callum Rowlandson; 6. Craig Borthwick, 7. Liam Scott, 8. Kris Mein.

Replacements:
16. Richard Tod, 17. Gary Adams, 18. Stephen Cairns, 19. Craig Dods, 20. Iain Ross.

Ayr:
15. Grant Anderson; 14. Richard Dalgleish, 13. Robbie Fergusson, 12. Ross Curle (capt), 11. Haddon McPherson; 10. Frazier Climo, 9. Cameron Taylor; 1. Steven Longwell, 2. James Malcolm, 3. Javan Sebastian; 4. George Hunter, 5. Scott Sutherland; 6. Blair Macpherson, 7. Andrew Dunlop, 8. Pete McCallum.

Replacements:
16. Fergus Scott, 17. D'arcy Rae, 18. Lee Scott, 19. Archie Russell, 20. Russell McKeown.


- Elena Hogarth.