1st XV v Ayr
By Hugh Barrow
THESE two clubs usually produce hard-fought wars of attrition, with the result in doubt until the final whistle.
Not at Old Anniesland on Saturday, where Ayr had the the game won by half-time. Fifteen points clear, and three-quarters of the way to the four-try bonus. Hawks' second-half priority was damage limitation.
They restricted the visitors to two second-half tries, but, the fact was the home team was only in the Ayr 22 twice in the first half, and not at all in the second.
"I couldn't have asked for more, this was a great start; the reward for our hard work in pre-season," said Ayr coach Callum Forrester.
"Credit to Hawks, they defended well, they had to. We scored five tries and butchered about four more chances, so I have to be happy."
Hawks' coach Gary Mercer's record as a defence coach is well-established. His side did indeed earn great credit for the way they battled at the breakdown, but, as he observed: "You cannot win matches without the ball, and our lack of possession killed us. We weren't really here today, and gave away too-many penalties, but, we will have better days."
Ayr skipper Ross Curle limped off in seven minutes, Ali Price coming into a recast back line. This little disconcerted the visitors, as debutant Haddon McPherson – a Hawk last season – scorched in for the opening, unconverted, try in 16 minutes.
George Horne's snapped drop goal from a long Ayr drop-out from their 22, briefly offered hope, but, two further unconverted Ayr tries, from debutant prop Steven Longwell and number eight Blair Macpherson, and a penalty from stand-in skipper Grant Anderson, had Ayr 18-3 up at the break.
Gary Strain's arrival and the temporary departure of impressive Welsh-trained Ayr prop Javan Sebastian, momentarily put the brakes on Ayr's scrummage superiority But, while Horne did ten minutes in the sin bin, Blair Macpherson scored his second try, converted by Anderson; before, as the game moved into injury time, replacement Peter McCallum surged over for Ayr's fifth try, converted by Anderson. Game over.
AYR got their season in the BT Premiership off to a flying start with a 32-3 away win at Glasgow Hawks.
The men from Millbrae finished second in the table after the regular season in 2014/15, but lost out in the play-off semi-finals to Melrose.
With the additions they made in the summer they are once again expected to be in the top four and they certainly played well at Old Anniesland.
Tries from Blair MacPherson (2), Haddon McPherson, Steve Longwell and Pete McCallum came in this one with Grant Anderson adding seven points with the boot. Hawks' only points came through a drop goal by George Horne.