"Intensity Shouldn't Come at a Cost" Insists Fenwick

Callum Kerr @ Millbrae

 

This afternoon Ayr 1st put in a valiant shift against Heriots Blues at Millbrae but inevitably came up short against the league leaders due to a last-minute score.

 

It looked like it was Ayr’s game when Richie Simpson dotted down to make it 20-10 on the 70th minute, but Ayr shipped twelve points in the final ten minutes to fall 20-22.  

(Image – Ritchie Simpson’s late score, George McMillan)

 

“Intensity shouldn’t come at a cost” were the sharp words of head coach Stuart Fenwick at final whistle: “We talked all week about intensity and confrontation and today we done all of that, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of ill-discipline and silly penalties.

 

“You can’t fault the effort and energy of the side today, and the game was there for the taking – but we were our own worst enemy. Yes, I am happy that our performance put us in a position to win but that’s another loss that was preventable”.

 

Ayr started the match in fine fettle, with Harry Lynch cruising clear when a fine offload from Ritchie Simpson caught him in open prairie.

 

Such was the story for much of the afternoon, Ayr followed their score with an error-strewn exit and Heriots opened their try-scoring account moments later.

 

A second score for Ayr, this time through Robbie McLaren extended the hosts lead to 12-5, but once more a lack of discipline hindered any momentum. Despite the lead a succession of yellow cards – first to Ross McCorkindale and second to Scott Clelland – meant the best Ayr could do was hold out the visitors until the interval.

 

Half-time: Ayr Rugby 12-5 Heriots Blues

 

Heriots managed to close the gap early in the second half, with winger Craig Robertson darting over for his second score. They enjoyed the lion’s share of territory from then on but couldn’t quite break down a strong Ayr defence.

 

Opportunity eventually knocked for the hosts and Jamie Bova made full use of a penalty just inside Heriot’s half. A trademark punt from the tee gave his side some well-needed breathing room and kept the scoreboard ticking as we entered the end game.

 

Suddenly Ayr looked revitalised. A trio of line breaks within minutes of each other sprung the Millbrae faithful into life. It was capped off by a heroic break down the flank by Simpson, who dove clear to what many thought would be the deciding blow.

 

Alas the penalty count continued to grow, and as a result Heriots were given crucial territory in the dying embers of the match. Two late scores and one, nerve-tingling conversion deep into injury time, meant they left victors.

Full-time: Ayr Rugby 20-22 Heriots Blues

In an albeit disappointing afternoon, Ayr showed spectators watching on their league credentials, which on another day would have resulted in a win over the table toppers. A handful of individual performances stuck out, but it was Richie Simpson who secured Man of the Match honours. The fly-half produced moments of magic when called upon and conducted his backs throughout the eighty with assured confidence.


Peter Horne to Step into Bulls Head Coaching Role

Ayr Rugby is delighted to confirm that Scotland International and current Ayrshire Bulls assistant coach Peter Horne will be stepping into the head coaching role in the new year.

 

The 32-year-old is set to retire from playing with Scottish pro-side the Glasgow Warriors to move into the position on a full-time basis, effective from January 1st.

(Image – Pat MacArthur (L) and Horne (R) lifting the FOSROC Super6 Trophy in October)

 

Horne replaces former Warriors teammate and friend Pat McArthur, who led the Bulls to lift the inaugural FOSROC Super6 trophy earlier this year. Horne was successful in applying for head coach in March 2021. To allow him to finish his playing career, MacArthur took on the role with the understanding that Horne would take over in January 2022. Despite stepping back from the role MacArthur will remain involved with his boyhood club going forward.

Peter Horne is a well-known face among Scottish Rugby. Since making his Warriors debut in 2009 he has enjoyed a 12-year career at the top level, amassing 45 Scotland caps in the process. He joined the Ayrshire Bulls coaching set-up last year and was heavily involved in the recent Super6 success.

Speaking of the appointment, Ayr Rugby President Stewart Kerr said the following: ““We are delighted to see Peter move into the head coaching role with the bulls after impressing over the past year under Pat MacArthur.

“He brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience with him and we are positive for what the future has in store. Be it Ayr or the Bulls we have built a reputation on success, and I have no doubt that more will follow in the coming seasons.

“It would be remiss of me not to pass on my overwhelming thanks to Pat in all that he has done for Ayrshire rugby. In his season in charge, he’s put the Bulls ahead of the chasing pack, setting the benchmark for others to strive for”.

Horne becomes the third person to take the reins of the Ayrshire Bulls, with maiden coach Peter Murchie now in the support staff at the Glasgow Warriors, highlighting that bridging the gap between club and professional rugby isn’t reserved solely for players.


All Smiles after County Win

Callum Kerr at Millbrae

 

This afternoon at Millbrae Ayr pulled themselves back to winning ways with a comprehensive victory over Stirling County. The hosts went into the contest on the back of three losses but displayed newfound confidence to dispel all County attacks, preventing them from registering any tries in a 28-3 win.

(Image – George McMillan)

Ayr head coach Stuart Fenwick would have played down the notion of it being a must-win game before kick-off, but he expressed how crucial it was to end the year on a high afterwards: “We have had a tough few weeks. It was massively important (to win). We spoke at training about how big a week it was – we did not want to finish this year on four back-to-back losses… Today we turned up and I’m really happy with the way we stuck in and did the work”.

 

To win is one thing, but to win in such a convincing manner in front of a home crowd is something that was particularly pleasing for Fenwick: “The defensive effort from the boys was huge and it was set by the tone and intensity we wanted to play at.

 

“In the past couple of weeks we felt that our attitude let us down a little bit and we had work to do. They turned up today and fired real well”.

 

There were multiple players who put their hands up for Player of the Match honours, but in the end Euan Hamilton stood out from the rest. The second row put in a heroic eighty minutes in the engine room and was still throwing himself around the park come final whistle. His attrition around the pitch was contrasted by an elegant display in the skies, proving to be a nuisance at line out time.

 

Stuart Fenwick praised the effort of his number four, and squad, with: “Euan was absolutely outstanding, and that contributed to an outstanding performance across the pack in those conditions. For me, another performance that stood out was Ross McCorkindale at nine. He controlled things expertly on his first outing in that position.


Fenwick Frustrated after Duel in the Snow

Callum Kerr

Ayr 1XV fell to their third loss on the bounce this afternoon with an unsuccessful trip to Netherdale to face Gala. In a match that ended up being a battle against the elements as well as the opposition, Gala controlled treacherous snowfall better than Ayr, cruising to a 36-5 victory.

For the second week in a row, Ayr didn’t strike a blow until the dying embers and by then it was merely a matter of honour over a realistic chance of a comeback.

 

Head coach Stuart Fenwick hasn’t diced his words when dissecting the previous few performances and this afternoon’s result was no different. Once again he was disappointed that a capable team struggled to find points on the road: “It’s just frustration! We didn’t adapt to the conditions and Gala continued to turn us and allow us to make errors without us really being under pressure and it just kept us in our third.

 

“We spoke through the week about playing more and whilst the conditions made it tricky, we didn’t try much at all”.

 

Ayr boasts a young team packed with razzamatazz and spark, but in the last few outings their opposition has decided how the game plays out. Describing what their main takeaway will be from the game, Fenwick touch once more on the conditions: “we need to adapt to the match and weather as things change. We proved when we did move the ball on occasion that we could do some damage but somehow didn’t continue to do so”.

 

It’s a performance the gaffer will be delighted to see the back of, but he did applaud the performance of one man in defeat. Scott Clelland has been a bright spark in the side for numerous seasons now, but he continues to turn heads when battling on the turf. Fenwick said: “Scotty was everywhere and continues to put in big shifts week in week out! His consistency is a massive driver for this side”.

 

Ayr will aim to halt their run of losses next weekend when they return to Millbrae. With a home crowd behind them and a confidence that only Millbrae can bring, Stuart Fenwick believes it’s important they put together a performance: “Stirling next Saturday is huge now for us.

 

“We will undoubtedly benefit from the break but it’s so important that we finish on a positive note to allow us to carry on the great start made early doors into the final quarter of the season”.

 

Back at Millbrae it was a narrow defeat for Ayr/Millbrae, who fell 6-7 to Marr 2XV. Despite the loss the squad will take great confidence in running the 2XV of premiership Marr to the closest of margins.


Fenwick Reflects on Highland Defeat

Callum Kerr @ Millbrae

Ayr’s undefeated run at Millbrae came to an end on Saturday courtesy of a 10-18 defeat to Highland. Stuart Fenwick’s men were successful in all five of their home fixtures prior to the match but left it too late to catch Highland who controlled much of the territory straight from the off.

 Ayr didn’t deal a blow until 74 minutes in, with two late tries only managing to flatter the final scoreline.  

Head Coach Stuart Fenwick expressed frustration at full time with the result fresh in his mind: “I’m really disappointed. We started playing rugby with ten minutes to go and we scored two tries. We allowed them to dictate the pace of the game, we allowed them to dictate the physicality of the game – we didn’t step up – that’s the frustrating side of it”.

 

Expressing positives from the result, Ayr’s late flurry managed to convince Fenwick that his side can play when called upon: “The positive is that with ten to go when we needed to score we looked dangerous. If we did that for the first seventy minutes it would have been a different game.

 

“Fair play to Highland. They did exactly what they needed to do. They limited our opportunities to play rugby, they nullified our threats out wide forcing us to keep it tight. We didn’t react well which we needed to do and we spoke about that during the week. I think that’s why everyone, including the players, are a bit frustrated”.

 

Although it was a team performance Ayr will be happy to put behind them, Fenwick named skipper Cameron Reece his player of the match. The number eight seemed to be everywhere during the game and at points looked like he would single-handedly drag the side back into contention.

 

Ayr will look to right their wrongs this coming Saturday when they travel to the Borders to face Gala. The action kicks off at 15.00.

 

It was similar fortunes for Ayr/Millbrae, who lost 23-12 away to Stirling Wolves 2XV.


Ayr come up short away to Cartha

Callum Kerr @ Dumbreck

 

This evening Ayr didn’t manage to muster a result on their trip up the M77 to face Cartha Queens Park at Dumbreck. In a scrappy war of attrition, neither side covered themselves in glory with the ball in hand, but it was the hosts who seemed more streetwise in close quarters.

 

In the end, Ayr salvaged two points with an injury-time score but ultimately fell 37-31 short.

Speaking at full time, assistant coach Frazier Climo cut a dejected figure on the field. His overriding emotion – frustration: “We didn’t turn up. At times we built some pressure and built on phases, then just coughed it up. They didn’t really have to fight for their scores, we were soft.

 

“We got into position’s where we could have scored points and then that last pass wasn’t there… I’m pretty gutted with that tonight”.

 

There were numerous changes to the squad listed in previous weeks, including a debut for Ayr/Wellington youth graduate Fraser Thomson. Despite the result, Climo was pleased with how the changes performed in the circumstances: “Yeah, we have got boys out, but the boys that came in went well. It’s more the fact that some of the senior, more experienced, players were making the mistakes.

 

“Once we lose momentum, we really struggle to get it back at times – our heads go down. We’ve just got to learn to soak it up, give it back… It’s good learning though I suppose for this young team”.

 

Cartha scored first in the contest and stayed in front until final whistle, but Ayr remained in touching distance throughout. At 25-24 and ten minutes left on the clock it was anyone’s game. The hosts remained unperturbed and showed cool heads to deal two late scores and take the win away from Ayr.

 

Despite the clock in red and the result determined, Ayr ended on a positive, plucking one last score through Adam McGowan to secure a try-bonus point. Jamie Bova then slotted the conversion to add a losing-bonus point to the bag as well – two key points which could prove valuable down the straight. Referring to the last play, Climo said: “Coming away with two points is definitely a positive. We’ll take that away from it and the boys were determined to end on a high note. In terms of performance though, we know we can do better”.


Jordan signs Professional Deal with Warriors

Earlier today Tom Jordan signed a short-term deal with the Glasgow Warriors, seeing him join up with the Scotstoun based club for the remainder of the season.

Jordan, who initially joined the Bulls back in 2019 ahead of the inaugural FOSROC Super6 season, played an integral role in this year’s league success. The 23-year old was named player of the match in the cup final victory over Southern Knights.

Hailing from Auckland, New Zealand, Jordan has had previous involvement with Glasgow Warriors, having trained with the Scotstoun club during the 2020/21 season. He will become Scottish qualified in October next year.

The move sees Jordan join the likes of former Bulls Ross Thompson, Ollie Smith (Warriors), Marshall Sykes and Sam Kitchen (Edinburgh) in making the step up to Scotland’s professional sides.

Speaking exclusively to glasgowwarriors.org, Jordan said: “I’ve been here in and out for training over the last year or so, but to sign a professional contract here is awesome.

“I’m over the moon and I can’t wait to get stuck in with the boys for the rest of the season.

“If I get the opportunity to run out in front of a full house at Scotstoun, that’d be amazing. The crowds so far have been unreal so far this season, and they really give such an amazing atmosphere.

“I really like to chuck the ball around and put others in space, so I’m looking forward to playing the Glasgow style of rugby and playing some heads-up footy.”

All at Ayr Rugby and the Ayrshire Bulls wish TJ the best of luck with the season ahead.

With numerous other Bulls finding action elsewhere during their offseason, Ayr Rugby will have a round-up very shortly highlighting who’s in action where.


Ayr triumph over Biggar at Millbrae

Callum Kerr @ Millbrae

This afternoon Ayr extended their unbeaten streak at Millbrae with a 33-19 victory over Biggar RFC.

 

Kicking-off at the earlier time of 11:00 am due to the action at BT Murrayfield, both sides were slow out of the blocks, but Ayr came out better off of a frantic second half. The result moves Ayr into joint second position in the league, trailing frontrunners Heriots by two points.

(The boot of Jamie Bova accounted for 18 points. Photo: George McMillan)

 

Ayr made hard work of it early doors. Just minutes into the contest a destructive rolling maul put the visitors’ inches from the line. Already with a penalty advantage, their nine tried to play it wide but was interrupted by Euan Hamilton, scrambling over the maul. Hamilton was sent to the bin for the infringement.

 

Ayr did well to exit and received better fortunes seconds later when an intentional knock-on sent Biggar’s twelve to the sin bin, squaring up both sides on 14 men.

 

After a period of back-and-forth, Ayr opened the scoring on the 23rd minute. From a stolen line out Robbie McLaren found the ball in the middle of the park. He managed to palm off the rushing defender and propel through the line to score. Jamie Bova duly converted.

 

A pair of penalties shortly after extended Ayr’s lead to 13-0 at the break.

 

Half-time: Ayr RFC 13-0 Biggar

 

The break initially suited the visitors better. With a newfound spring in their step, they wasted no time in mounting an attack. From Ayr indiscipline they were rewarded with a kick to the corner which ignited a powerful rolling maul that couldn’t be halted. In the end, it was deemed Number Eight R. Jackson was last to rise from the pile holding the ball. The conversion didn’t connect.

 

The home crowd were quickly relieved moments later when another pair of penalties from Bova stretched Ayr’s lead to 14.

 

The decisive moments of the game came after the second penalty. Two converted tries in as many minutes propelled Ayr to 33 points and took the result away from Biggar. The first saw Zac Howard torch up the line, skipping through one last-ditch tackle, to dive clear. The second was almost a carbon copy, with Harry Lynch releasing Ross Gilmour down the same wing to dot down with his first touch of the ball.

 

In the final stages of the match Biggar managed to salvage two scores of their own to stop the haemorrhaging, but it was too little too late.

 

Full-Time: Ayr Rugby 33-19 Biggar RFC.

 

In a match that needed leaders, captain Cam Reece naturally stood up to be accounted for. An aggressive performance around the pitch was matched with an elegant display in the air at lineout time.

 

 


Ayr Cruise to Large Win over Boroughmuir

Callum Kerr @ Millbrae

 

 

Ayr RFC bounced back from their first defeat of the season last weekend to secure victory in emphatic fashion this afternoon at Millbrae, downing Boroughmuir 58-12.

 

The hosts went coast-to-coast, leading from the second minute until the last, in a game that never looked like it was going to be anything other than an Ayr victory. Boroughmuir remained determined and did well to weather much of the onslaught and leave with a couple of consolation tries late in the game.

(David Lymburn in action during this afternoon’s victory. Image – George McMillan)

 

At the final whistle of last week’s loss, head coach Stuart Fenwick was a man of few words. After today’s victory, he was once again a man of few words. When asked if he was happy, he insisted: “Yes.”

 

When pressed further, Fenwick commended the efforts of his men to bounce back and secure a statement victory this afternoon: “We worked really hard at training this week. We knew we had underperformed against Heriots. We worked hard on Tuesday and Thursday and the boys turned up with a really good attitude. We spoke about a few things that were definitely evident today on the field. We put those things into action. I’m really pleased with it”.

 

In a testament to the squad’s depth, Fenwick highlighted the impact made today when the bench was called upon: “We certainly have got guys that can come in across the squad… There’s a lot of guys in the second XV today who could quite easily play ones when selected and should be pushing on to that. We have guys who can perform at that level and can compete at that level.

 

“The depth in the squad is very good just now”.

 

Jamie Bova was named Man of the Match, having been involved in a mouth-watering amount of tries, including one for himself. The wing also contributed a shedload of points from the tee. When asked who stood out in Stuart Fenwick’s eyes, he struggled to pinpoint individuals, instead praising the collective performance: “Lots of people did stand out but I’m more impressed with how they gelled and played as a unit.

 

“Looking at performances within that, I thought Aidan O’Connor bounced back today and scored a couple of really good tries. He looked real confident with the ball in hand. I thought all of the pack fronted up exceptionally. Scott Clelland was terrific, Michael Kirk put in some great hits and Craig Brown again was outstanding”.

 

It was different fortunes for Ayr/Millbrae, who lost 63-7 to GHA 2s.

 

Attention now turns to tomorrow’s FOSROC Super6 final between the Ayrshire Bulls and Southern Knights. The match kicks off at 13.30 at Edinburgh Rugby’s newly erected DAM Health Stadium. Secure your tickets on the button below.


All Eyes Turn to Final

Callum Kerr

 

It’s finals week for the Ayrshire Bulls who take on the Southern Knights this Sunday for FOSROC Super6 glory. With the conclusion of the regular season the two sides lead the pack and will meet at the DAM Health Stadium to determine who’ll be crowned the league’s first-ever champions. The match kicks off at 13.30.

The Bulls qualify in second place, after dropping off the top spot in yesterday’s disappointing defeat to Watsonians at Myreside. They won’t have much time to lick their wounds, with the season finale fast approaching.

(Image – Pete Horne was at the helm on Sunday with Pat MacArthur unable to Travel)

Reflecting on the weekend’s defeat, assistant coach Peter Horne urged that there were valuable takeaways from the match: “Look there are some good lessons that we can learn that’ll be really fitting going into (the final) next week…

 

“Our physicality wasn’t quite there and that’s something we pride ourselves on. We were second best all the time… Last week’s win against the Knights was so physical and that’s where we need to be to beat them. We will certainly review some of it, dust ourselves off, then get ready to go!”

 

Despite yesterday’s loss, Pat MacArthur’s men will go into the game confident of a result, having beaten the Southern Knights as early as two weeks ago. That match however unfolded in the comfort of Millbrae, whereas this one is in the neutral setting of Edinburgh Rugby’s newly erected Stadium.

 

Ayr currently hold the Scottish Premiership and Scottish Cup titles, having won them before the introduction of the new part-time professional Super6 league in 2019. Adding Sunday’s trophy to the cabinet would mean a clean sweep of Scottish Rugby’s top honours.

 

Ayr Rugby has a rich history of travelling to the capital for finals day and the Bulls will hope for a sea of pink to welcome them on Sunday. Tickets for both the game and supporters buses can be booked on the links below.

 

The match is also being broadcast live on FreeSports (Sky Channel 422) for those who can’t make the trip east.

 

There’s also Rugby action on Saturday at Millbrae, with the Club XV sides hosting Boroughmuir and GHA. Both games kick-off at 15.00.