Ayr Rugby Football Club

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 managed to stretch their legs in the last half hour taking the game away from the visitors. The win also means that Ayr will etch themselves onto the Bill McLaren Shield for the second time in their history- the only club to do so.

Both sides went into the contest with confidence. County had put 38 points on Edinburgh Accies seven days prior and Ayr had enjoyed a comprehensive 30-17 win over Currie Chieftains. 

Early on in the fixture it was Stirling who 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 managed to retaliate effectively seconds later, winning a penalty from the restart. Climo lined up the posts and made no mistake- 3-7 after just nine minutes of action.

Stirling were still looking the sharper of the two sides 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 on the 11th minute fell perfectly into the hands of Tagive who looked to break up the line but Craig Gossman was on hand to make 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 of the game. The danger man Tagive was involved again, breaking a tackle and marching up the field. Grant Anderson was able to pull 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 making it an nine point game.

Ayr needed something to give them confidence going forward and on the 20 minute mark Frazier Climo was able to supply it. From a scrum Climo was able to glide through a gap in the defence that nobody was able to see and sprint 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. The back-rower has been red hot so far this season and showed us all again how hard he is to stop when he barged over in midfield- taking a few tacklers along with him. Climo's conversion made it a two-point game. 

Stirling weren't phased by Ayr starting to reap reward and maintained their high possession rate. For ten minutes they set up camp in Ayr's 22 and looked to chip away at a belligerent defence. Monstrous tackles from the home side kept them at bay, with Marshall Sykes and Robbie Smith creating content for the end-of-season hit's highlight reel.

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

With the half fast approaching Stirling sat five points clear and content to keep the ball in enemy territory, but Ayr had one last card to play before the ref blew for the break.

Grant Anderson, whose presence so far in the game had been fully-defensive, finally clocked an open patch of grass in front of him and began to charge back at the opposition. Dodging and weaving, 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. 

It became apparent very quickly in the second half that Ayr didn't cool down during the break. After being under the cosh for majority of the game they were beginning to flex their muscles. Kyle Rowe doubled-up after just four minutes, grabbing his fifth try for the club in just three appearances. The conversion slipped wide.

The momentum in the game had swung and the energy around Millbrae had changed- An Ayr side which looked lethargic in the opening exchanges now moved with the swagger the Premiership has become accustomed to.

County had a golden opportunity to square it all up soon after. 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. This would end up being their best chance to score in the second half.

From then on in Ayr were the only side putting points on the board.

The next score came courtesy of David Corbenici, dotting down for the second week in a row. 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 an efficient Ayr team made them pay anytime the visitors coughed up the ball. This was epitomised when Stafford McDowall, on his return to action, danced up the field from deep in his own half after a long period of sustained attack from County. His break put Ayr back in a comfortable position, resulting in Stirling having a mountain to climb once again. 

County's direct running was slowly becoming undone by stiff defence and they struggled to find their dangerous wingers. When on the ball, Niko Matawalu looked his ever-dangerous self and when switched to full-back he looked to join the attack as often as he could. With five to play he pranced around multiple pink jerseys and darted up the touchline. He looked to have space in front of him before he was yanked back by the massive paws of Steven Longwell. The prop fell to the ground and hauled him into touch in front of the main stand igniting an uproar of cheers.

The game had moved into its dying embers but Ayr weren't done yet. Two tries in quick succession was the icing on top of what proved to be an emphatic victory. Blair Macpherson crossed over in the same vein as his first with Amir Rademaker finishing off a beautiful counter-attacking play on his starting debut for Ayr.

Full-time: Ayr RFC 43-15 Stirling County

The 2XV also found victory over County, winning 45-29. Jamie Bova was named MOTM.

Both sides return to action next weekend when they travel to Heriots. If you cant make the journey to the capital you can follow the action every step of the way on twitter @OfficialAyrRFC. Kick-off is at 15.00.