Ayr Rugby Football Club
Ayr Ladies powered past Stirling County at Millbrae on Sunday to climb to fourth in the BT Premier League.
The home team got off to a flying start, with strong running by prop Lauren Gunn and swift hands by winger Connie Griffiths to let centre Julie David fly away for the opening try. Stand-off Catherine Shennan just missed the wide-angled conversion. 5-0.

Ayr were dominant at the scrum throughout the match, and it provided the perfect attacking platform for number eight Rachael Mulholland, full-back Claire Law, centre Sammie Morrison and winger Erin McSorley.

County had a good share of possession early on and their backs hit some great lines, whilst their forwards muscled into the breakdown, and Ayr were kept busy in defence, David, hooker Lisa Croniken, captain Laura Turner and second rows Louise McLauchlan and Phoebe McDowall putting in crunching tackles.

The visitors made for Ayr's try-line, but flankers Emily Irving and Kelsey Swift and scrum-half Rachel Morrison pushed back the attack and Ayr gained a penalty.

From the line-out, Shennan and Turner marauded through the first wave of Stirling defence, but there was no way through the second and Ayr kicked on. Stirling gathered and set off but a textbook tackle by Griffiths stopped them in their tracks.

Successive turnovers followed, with McLauchlan and Mulholland showing good hands, but Ayr kicked away possession only for County's kick to be charged down by Croniken.

It was another torrid time at the scrum for the visitors, and McDowall and Gunn worked together to release Mulholland. She headed for the line but couldn't make it. Moments later, after another scrum, Shennan and Turner combined and this time Gunn barged over for the try, which Shennan converted. 12-0.

Ayr's confidence was growing, and even when they made errors, they were quick to react. When Stirling collected spilled passes, Swift and Griffiths were on them in a flash, dragging down attackers.

David was in imperious attacking form, slicing through the defence with ease. Wonderful handling by Griffiths and Shennan allowed her to pick a brilliant line and zip under the posts for a try just before half-time, which Shennan converted. 19-0.

Ayr put their foot on the gas at the start of the second half, Morrison, Gunn, David and Hannah Mutton - on her debut - motoring up the pitch. But County stayed strong in defence and managed a few turnovers too.

They still couldn't cope with the Ayr scrum and were being shoved around at will. They could have been mentally beaten but they remained positive and many an Ayr attacking opportunity was snuffed out by doughty work in the tackle by County.

Ayr replacements Michelle Nelson and Sonia Liekens brought fresh legs and got stuck into defence when County reclaimed possession.

But Ayr were back on attack, even after giving away a penalty for a squint put-in at the scrum. Mulholland chipped on into Stirling's twenty-two, with David chasing, and she kicked on too, gathering for her hat-trick. Shennan converted. 26-0.

McSorley made two excellent breaks up the wing but they couldn't be capitalised on. After another scrum, Mulholland charged from the back and powered over for a much deserved try in the corner. Shennan couldn't add the extras. 31-0.

There was just time for one last attacking move, and Croniken and McDowall got it going before David scooped up the ball from her bootlaces and glided away for her fourth try of the day, which she converted herself. 38-0.


- Elena Hogarth.