Narrow loss at Balgray
By Hugh Barrow
Bonus point loss
by MATT VALLANCE at BALGRAY
The Scotsman reports
THE clan system may be long gone from Scotland, except in team sport, where match-ups such as Hearts v Hibs, or Auchinleck Talbot v Cumnock in football, Gala v Hawick in rugby, Carlton v Grange in cricket or Kelburne v Western in hockey stir the blood.
To that list may now be added Ayr v Glasgow Hawks in rugby.
Ayr may well be, as Hawks coach Jamie Dempsey dubbed them post-match, “the outstanding club side of the last decade”, but, after this close-run thing, they have genuine competition in the West of Scotland.
Ayr took the lion’s share of the points – and the Bill McLaren Shield – but it was their greater experience and teamwork which edged them home at Balgray in the face of a fired-up Hawks side who took the greater glory in defeat.
“Ayr’s commitment is absolute, but we took them to the final kick of the game,” said Dempsey.
“We are gutted. However, we are maturing as a group, we are confident in the future and, while Ayr took their chances, we missed ours.
“The fact we had them worried for long periods is something I can take from this defeat.”
Ayr coach Callum Forrester was happy with a second straight win.
“Our discipline when they were pressing at the end was magnificent and, apart from the way we conceded their opening try, I have to be happy with our display,” he said.
“We both know each other so-well – both sides gave 100 per cent.
“It was a true, old-fashioned derby, which we won.
“I felt we showed patience in going through our phases in the face of their excellent defence, we scored two good tries and, two wins from two very tough games has left me happy.” Some great footwork took Grant Anderson past four would-be tacklers for Ayr’s opening try, but a snap dropped goal then a penalty from George Horne pulled Hawks back to within a point, only for Kerr Gossman to score a cracking second Ayr try, which was, like the first, converted by Gavin Lowe.
Then, with Ayr’s Callum Templeton in the sin-bin, Haddon McPherson scored a cracking try, again converted by Horne, to make it a one-point game going into the half-time interval, 14-13 to the visitors.
Lowe stretched Ayr’s lead with a brace of penalties, before a superb line-out maul from the rampant Hawks pack allowed Kenny Beattie to grab an unconverted try for the hosts. Ayr then survived ten minutes with Scott Sutherland in the bin, before coming back and testing the home defence, which held firm.
In the closing minutes of the match, Ayr’s defence was stretched to the limit, but Horne’s attempted drop goal with the final kick of the match was off-target and Ayr had won a tremendous game.
Scorers: Glasgow Hawks – Tries: H McPhersonK Beattie. Con: G Horne. Pen: Horne. Dropped Goal: Horne. Ayr: Tries: G Anderson, K Grossman. Cons: G Lowe (2). Pens: Lowe (2).
Glasgow Hawks: R Houliston; H McPherson, T Steven, D Milne, E Oag; G Horne, P Boyer; G Strain, J McFarlane, B Cullinane, A Linton, S Thomson, A Kirkland, F Gillies, K Beattie. Replacements (all used): G Stewart, S Findlay, T Spinks, C Brodie, N Herron.
Ayr: G Anderson; C Taylor, D McCluskey, D Kelbrick, K Gossman; G Lowe, D Armstrong; N Cox, F Scott, F Watt, R McAlphine, S Sutherland, C Templeton, W Bordill, B McPherson. Replacements (all used): J Malcolm, G Hunter, A Dunlop, G Fisken, M McConnell.