Ayr Rugby Football Club
Ayr reached the semi-finals of the BT Cup with a six-try win against Jed-Forest at Millbrae, but the Borderers didn't make it easy for them.
With the visitors from Riverside short of a few replacements due to injuries, and the fact that they are a league below Ayr in BT National 1, a bigger score may have been on some people's minds. When Ayr flanker Will Bordill strolled away for the first try, converted by stand-off Frazier Climo, with just a minute on the clock, it was looking likely. 7-0.

But Jed weren't just there to make up the numbers. They held their own in their first scrum, and winger Robbie Shirra Gibb shot off up the touchline. He couldn't escape the Ayr tacklers though.

Climo, full-back Grant Anderson and winger Craig Gossman got back into attacking mode but Jed turned them over. With a muddy pitch, it was all a bit messy and stop-start, however.

A few penalties helped the home team, as did excellent handling by Anderson and centre Archie Russell to keep the ball in play. The line-out was firing on all cylinders, and no sooner had hooker Lewis Anderson thrown the ball in than second row Robert McAlpine had taken it in the air and launched down it to Steven Longwell. The prop took it at pace and propelled himself over the line for a fine try. Climo converted. 14-0.

The visitors again had a solid scrum to get their backs going, with full-back Lewis Young taking full advantage. Russell and scrum-half David Armstrong had him wrapped up but nobody could contain Jed centre Gregor Young as he stormed through midfield, and Shirra Gibb took the pass to score. Stand-off Robbie Yourston converted. 14-7.

Jed's tails were up, especially when Ayr second row Scott Sutherland was sin-binned. The resulting line-out was squint though and the opportunity lost.

Ayr were back with ball in hand, prop George Hunter, Gossman, Armstrong and centre Danny McCluskey blasting through the defence, despite some crunching tackles by the likes of flanker Graham Robson.

They turned defence into attack and Climo and winger Jamie Bova were busy containing them. Flanker Blair Macpherson managed to turn over and another penalty was on its way. Ayr drove from the line-out and captain Pete McCallum bundled over. It was a touchline conversion attempt for Climo and he couldn't make it. 19-7.

Another turnover by Macpherson saw him gallop off from his own twenty-two to Jed's five-metre line where he was hauled down by the men in bright blue. It was then the visitors' turn to have a player yellow-carded, with centre Monty Mitchell dismissed for ten minutes.

Tempers flared throughout the first half, and a bit of pushing and shoving turned into a number of players rumbling about on the touchline. Referee David Sutherland calmed things down with a stern talking-to for both captains.

It looked like Ayr would get another try after Russell's chip was taken over the line by Bova but a knock-on occurred. They didn't have long to wait as moments later McCallum sprang forth. Climo converted just before half-time. 26-7.

Both sets of backs were as lively as ever in the second half, Russell, Anderson and Bova leading the way for Ayr, but the increasingly churned-up pitch was thwarting them.

The messy pitch, messy ball and messy handling frustrated Jed the most, and confusion reigned on their five-metre line, with the ball bobbling about until it went over the whitewash and Gossman touched down for a try. Another wide angle for Climo meant no conversion. 31-7.

Ayr brought on fresh legs in the form of prop Adam Prentice, hooker David Young and scrum-half Harry Warr, with the former two getting stuck into defence straight away and the latter marshaling his troops with aplomb.

A sturdy Ayr scrum let McCallum charge off, before Sutherland burst through tackles to go on a ferocious foray and McCluskey followed suit. The ball was back with McCallum who passed to Gossman and he fought his way up the wing for another try. It was almost in the same place as his last, and again there was no conversion. 36-7.

McAlpine emulated his second row partner Sutherland and got those long legs going for an exciting break in midfield, dummying nicely before passing to Gossman. Grant Anderson took it on, with replacements Richard Dalgleish and Gregor Henry in support but Jed were making a nuisance of themselves and interrupting any flow Ayr were getting into.

The home team emptied their bench, with Graham Hunter and Craig Stevenson taking to the field just as Ayr pressed Jed's line again. Bordill looked like he was over but the ball was knocked on as it was fired out to the backs.

Jed kicked away possession from the ensuing scrum, and Warr, Stevenson and Longwell happily took it back into their half, Warr making a thrilling break only to be dragged down on the five-metre line by Jed's sturdy defence.

The final ten minutes were marred by yet more handling errors by both teams and some more bad-tempered displays that saw Jed get a penalty reversed after some petulance by the visitors.

McCluskey, Gossman and Graham Hunter fancied another run, as did Jed replacement Ross Glendinning, but neither team bothered the other's try-line again as the referee blew his whistle for full-time.

Ayr will play Glasgow Hawks in the BT Cup semi-final on Saturday 25th March at Millbrae.

Final score: Ayr 36 Jed-Forest 7.

Slaters Menswear man of the match: Will Bordill.

- Elena Hogarth.

Image courtesy of Alan Graham.