Heartbreak For The Ayrshire Bulls

David Graham @ Dam Health Stadium

Head Coach Pat MacArthur was proud of his players but it was heartbreak for the Ayrshire Bulls this afternoon in Edinburgh as Watsonians clinched the FOSROC Super6 Championship in extra-time after an enthralling encounter in the capital!

Both sides put on a real show in the season finale, having dominated the Championship throughout and Sprint Series earlier in the year.

Injuries played a major factor with the Bulls playing the entire second half (bar 8 minutes) having used all their replacements, with a number of players playing out of position.

There were notable injuries to captain Blair Macpherson, try scorer Andy Stirrat and centre Bobby Beattie which resulted in the Bulls finishing the game with effectively two number 9's and a prop in the second row, to name but a few.

The Bulls controlled the opening exchanges with intense pressure on the Watsonians defence, however it was Watsonians who opened the scoring with a penalty after 14 minutes.

A resilient Bulls backline thwarted a Watsonians try but a cheap penalty allowed Jason Baggott to bag the first points of the final with a conversion from deep inside the Bulls half.

The Bulls rallied and were soon ahead within three minutes, courtesy of Andrew Stirrat. A superb Bulls attack and quick ball found Stirrat with space to score under the posts, Richie Simpson maintaining his 100% strike rate to add the conversion for a 7-3 lead.

With just over 20 minutes played the Bulls extended their lead.

Aaron Tait found space between the Watsonians defence, after a ruck and quick break from the Bulls, holding off the tackles for an emphatic try!

Richie Simpson was once again on-hand to add a simple conversion.

Watsonians reduced the deficit after the half hour mark, when Bobby Bratton forced his way to the try line after some good initial Bulls defensive work inside their own 22’. Baggott added the conversion to close the gap to four points.

Half-Time: Watsonians 10-14 Ayrshire Bulls

Bobby Beattie almost broke free from a misplaced Watsonians pass, 90 seconds after the restart, however he was strongly brought down with a last-ditch tackle, sadly bringing his final to an early end.

Watsonians started the second period strongly, with some early pressure on the Bulls try line, but Macpherson and Co held strong to relieve that pressure and take the game to their opponents.

Some fine scrambling work from Tim Brown saw Watsonians give away a penalty, much to the delight of the travelling Millbrae faithful.

Will Hunt opted to kick for touch and after several phases of play and outstanding balls recycled from the rucks, the Bulls extended their lead by nine points.

Winger Elias Caven took full advantage of a superb through kick from Hunt that split the Watsonians defensive line to hit the try line in style! Hunt was unlucky to see his conversion hit the posts and go wide.

Watsonians would reduce the score to within two points after 56 minutes.

They continued to pile on the pressure but the Bulls were absolutely magnificent - it has to be said - in defence, clearing their lines after ten minutes or so stuck inside their own half.

Will Hunt would again find a magnificent kick, forcing Watsonians into an unforced error to give Bulls the lineout five metres from the try line.

The rucking from Bulls was superb once again and the quick balls would finally find that man Caven once again, to score in the corner and double his tally for the afternoon.

Hunt saw his conversion go narrowly wide to give the Bulls a seven point lead with ten minutes to play.

Watsonians had other ideas though and levelled the score four minutes from time to take it to extra-time.

Full-Time: Watsonians 24 – 24 Ayrshire Bulls

Halfway through the first period of extra time Watsonians would take the lead through Lewis Berg, with the try converted by Lee Miller.

They would then extend that lead, with two minutes of the first period remaining to lead 36-24 at the break.

The Bulls pushed to find a way back however it was Watsonians who saw the game out in the second period to lift the title, with a try and conversion in the final minute of the second extra time period.

Head Coach Pat MacArthur said afterwards,

"Everyone is proud of what we did out there.

Injuries hurt us. Emptying your bench after 49 minutes and losing senior players isn’t ideal but what came on after that was outstanding. We could have and maybe should have won it in the last few minutes of the game, so there is a real pride with that.

Going into extra time with the boys hanging together, it was always going to be a tough ask. The fact that in the second period of extra time we were putting pressure on them, that shows a huge amount of togetherness. So, I am really disappointed, but it gives us something to shoot for next year!"

Result: Watsonians 43-24 Ayrshire Bulls

Player of the Match: Davies (Watsonians)

Bulls Tries: Stirrat, Tait, Caven X2 ; Conversions: Simpson 2

WATSONIANS: 15. Coetzer 14. Macpherson 13. Berg 12. Reynolds 11.Guthrie 10. Baggott 9. Brand 1.Courtney 2.Davies 3. Bratton 4. Ball 5. Berrisford 6. Van Niekerk 7. Main 8. Cecil

AYRSHIRE BULLS: 15. McNamara 14. Tait 13. Beattie 12. Stirrat 11. Caven 10. Simpson 9. Lenac
1.Nimmo 2. Malcolm 3. Scott 4. Bloodworth 5. Jackson 6. Smeaton 7. Brown 8. Macpherson (C)

16. McGuire 17. Farquhar 18. Henderson 19. Drummond 20. Wilson 21. Glendinning 23. Hunt 24. Jones

1st XV Ease to Victory Over Aberdeen Grammar

David Graham @ Millbrae

Ayr 1xt saw off Aberdeen Grammar 1st XV with a resounding 43-5 win at Millbrae this afternoon, to make it four wins from four home games in the Tennent’s National League, Division 1.

Two tries a piece from John Fulton & super-sub Ciaran Wood, as well as scores from Johan Pottie, Jamie Bova and Man of the Match, Cameron Reece gave the home side and fans plenty to cheer about in an entertaining encounter!

Aberdeen had the first chance to put points on the board, however an early penalty from just over the halfway line fell short, allowing Ayr to re-group.

Moments later, inside the 22’ a fantastic burst from Bova saw him play the ball wide to full-back Scott Watson, passing wide again to John Fulton who looked certain to open the scoring, but was put into touch a yard short of the try line with some superb Aberdeen defending.

After eight minutes, Ayr had their reward, Fulton again involved on the opposite side of a cut-up Millbrae pitch, running free from the Aberdeen tackles, for his first try of the afternoon. Jamie Bova’s first attempt for points sailed narrowly wide.

Five minutes later, Aberdeen were level. A line-out from a second penalty, saw a couple of phases of play before Galloway touched down. The conversion for the visitors also sailed narrowly wide of the posts.

John Fulton added his second try not long thereafter with a brilliant solo run, no messing this time from Jamie Bova who added his first points of the afternoon.

Bova was involved again 90 seconds later, this time to the discontent of the Millbrae faithful as he was given a dubious yellow card for a high-tackle, many would liked to have seen that one again!

Ayr navigated the ten minutes with 14 men well, managing to sustain any pressure from the visitors and they may well have scored again when Ruairidh Anderson was brought down 10m short of the try line.

As Bova returned to the action, Ayr extended their lead.

Ruairidh Sayce, who took several superb line-outs throughout the match, was involved in a maul which saw Ayr edge towards the try line. Aberdeen held firm but conceded another penalty, Ayr took it quickly and captain Recce hit the try line, with Bova converting to make it 2/3 and put Ayr 19-5 in front.

On the brink of half-time, Ayr were once again playing some superb rugby in the middle of the pitch, quick balls and plenty movement off the ball saw Johan Pottie touch down right between the posts, allowing Bova to take his points tally to six for the afternoon by adding a simple conversion.

A bright start to the second half saw Ayr immediately look for their 5th try of the afternoon, however the Aberdeen defense were resilient as they looked for a way back into the match.

They almost did when Shepherd broke five tackles before eventually being brought down by a pumped-up Ayr defensive line.

A triple change after 50 minutes would see the introduction of Ciaran Wood who was involved in the build-up as Jamie Bova scored his first try, however his conversion was once again narrowly wide.

With the game now out of sight at 31-5, Ayr continued to play some excellent rugby.

A fine diving interception from substitute Nick Cox would release a quick ball that found its’ way - at the end of the move - in the hands of Ciaran Wood, to  score his first try of the game, Bova making no mistake this time to further extend the lead.

Wood doubled his tally five minutes later after some fine work from scrum-half Lucas Short to give Ayr their final points of the afternoon, in a match which they controlled from start to finish!

Full-time: Ayr 43-5 Aberdeen Grammar

Man of the Match: Cameron Recce

Ayr 1st XV
15. Watson 14. Howard 13. Anderson 12. Bova 11. Fulton 10. Anderson 9. Short 1. McIntosh-Floyd 2. Rae 3. Sayce 4. Hamilton 5. Leatherbarrow 6. Reece © 7. Pottie 8. McCallum

Aberdeen Grammar 1st XV
15. Shepherd 14. Finlayson 13. Hunter 12. Ryan 11. Renton 10. Knudson 9. Ritchie 1. Ahmanache 2. Spence 3. Galloway 4. Robertson 5. Gamba 6. Burnett 7. Robertson 8. Salem

Ayrshire Bulls Head Coach Confirmed

Ayr Rugby is delighted to confirm that Pat MacArthur will return to the Ayrshire Bulls as Head Coach replacing his predecessor, Peter Horne. MacArthur made way for Horne at the start of the year but will rerise his role following Horne’s promotion to the Glasgow Warriors coaching staff.

Pat MacArthur will be joined by club legend Frazier Climo, who fulfils the assistant position.

Elias Caven has become player / coach and will lead strength and conditioning training.

It was a fruitful first tenure in charge for MacArthur, leading the Bulls to inaugural FOSROC Super6 success - He’ll now get the chance to defend his title in the coming months. A club stalwart, he came through the Ayr youth system before enjoying a decade of professional rugby with the Glasgow Warriors and Scotland.

Frazier Climo is a man who needs no introduction to the Millbrae faithful. The fly-half had an illustrious playing career in pink and black, cementing his place as one of the club greats. He was initially involved in the Bulls coaching staff in 2019, working under Peter Murchie as skills coach. Since then he has occupied a player/ coach role with the 1st XV.

MacArthur has been piecing together his support staff, with further announcements to be made in the coming weeks.

QTS School of Rugby Partnership

Ayr Rugby is delighted to announce a partnership with National Rail contractor, QTS Group. Ayr Academy will host the ambitious project as part of a tie up between Ayr Rugby Club and the QTS Group. The deal will see the launch of the QTS School of Rugby at Ayr Academy, a comprehensive school in the area, which QTS Group will fund for one year.

Young people aged 12-15 at the school will have the opportunity to join three contact sessions per week, which will comprise of a wide-ranging support network that includes strength and conditioning, nutritional support and workshops to aid individuals’ personal development, alongside rugby skills and training.

Alan McLeish, managing director at QTS Group with students from Ayr Academy and Modern Apprentice Jamie Mclauchlan

Stuart Fenwick, Director of Rugby at Ayr Rugby Club, said:

“We’re thrilled to launch the QTS School of Rugby, which will give so many young people across the area the chance to learn new skills and benefit from coaching, mentoring and valuable life experiences such as watching live rugby games.

Rugby isn’t just a sport but a culture; the values and discipline that can be instilled in young people through playing the game is unparalleled. It is a key tool for engaging young people, leading to improved attitude, confidence and mental and social agility, as well as community safety.

We’re so grateful for the financial support from QTS, which gives us the opportunity to build on our impact of working with young people across Ayrshire. We can’t wait to see what the year brings."

Alan McLeish, managing director at QTS Group and Ayr Rugby President Stewart Kerr, with students from Ayr Academy

Alan McLeish, Managing Director at QTS Group, added:

“We’re so pleased to embark on a new partnership with a much-loved club that makes such a huge difference, not only to the professional rugby scene, but in its local community and across South Ayrshire.

At QTS Group, we are committed to investing in young people within our communities, and particularly supporting grassroots activity. Although we know that we can’t reach every young person across our region, we are hopeful that the QTS School of Rugby can change the pathway for just one or two, which will make our work and our investment worthwhile.

It has been a pleasure working with Stuart Fenwick and Glen Tippett and we look forward to building our relationship with the club over the next twelve months, and hopefully further into the future."

Ayr Rugby Launch Multi-Year Deal With O’Neills

Ayr Rugby are delighted to announce a new multi-year deal with sportswear manufacturer O’Neills, which sees them becoming the club kit supplier for all sides - from Minis' to the Ayrshire Bulls.

The new kit will be launched this Friday night when the Ayrshire Bulls kick off their FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series campaign under the lights at Millbrae. They will take to the field in their new-look threads which are available to purchase online and at the physical store.

The Bulls jersey, expertly designed by O’Neills, brings back the iconic club pink and black socks, along with a few other fresh details. Instead of the tire track pattern on the home shirt both jerseys incorporate the logo of Whiteley’s Retreat, Ayr Rugby’s official charity partner.

A fresh new away jersey sees white instead of black, with a swooshing pink stripe shooting across the middle and being carried on to the shorts. On one side of the line remains the Whiteley’s logos and the other a glaring Bull with steely eyes.

Dean Barlow, Sales Manager at O’Neills, was delighted to come on board: “When the opportunity arose to partner with Ayr Rugby & the Ayrshire Bulls it was one we couldn’t miss!

We wish to thank Ayr Rugby and the Ayrshire Bulls for choosing O’Neills, a name synonymous with quality sportswear across the world. We are really looking forward to working with the club moving forward to create a product the loyal fan base will love”.

Club president Stewart Kerr had the following to say: “When we laid eyes on the Bulls kit we loved it. They have created a fantastic line of clothing for our players, members, sponsors and fans – we can’t wait to witness a sea of Millbrae in their jerseys over the coming seasons.

It ends an era with Raging Bull, who were the clubs predominant kit designer for the best part of a decade. We thank them for their services and for creating memorable garments that will forever be synonymous with some of our most memorable moments”.

The Ayrshire Bulls kit is now available to pre-order online and the full line of both on-field and off-field stock will be hitting our shop soon.



Ayrshire Bulls will start the defence of their FOSROC Super6 crown at home to Boroughmuir Bears on Friday 15th April, under the lights at Millbrae.

The Scottish Rugby Union have confirmed that the Super6 Sprint Series will start with Round 1 on 15th April and conclude with Round 5 on Saturday 21st May.

In addition, every Friday night game in the Sprint Series will be broadcast live on television by broadcast partner FreeSports and both Saturday games will be available on the BBC Sport website, BBC iPlayer and the Scottish Rugby website.

FreeSports will also make each Friday night fixture available to view on their FreeSports Player within the UK and Ireland, those out with those territories will be able to watch the games on the Scottish Rugby website.

They first partnered with Scottish Rugby last summer to deliver every Sunday fixture and the grand final in the 2021 FOSROC Super6 and are the only free-to-air sports channel in the UK and Ireland. Formed in 2017, FreeSports are the sister channel of Premier Sports who broadcast the United Rugby Championship and French Rugby’s Top 14 competitions.

The broadcasting of the tournament will be produced by Glasgow-based production company QTV who were integral to the broadcasting of the inaugural FOSROC Super6 tournament in 2019.

Bringing the action to life will be the experienced commentary team of Stuart McFarlane, Paul Mitchell, Hugh Dan MacLennan, Jamie Lyall, Dale Clancy and Bruce Millar who will be joined by weekly guest co-commentators.

Ayrshire Bulls lifting the FOSROC Super6 in 2021

The FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series will commence this month, with all six participating teams playing each other once. The league will then be split with the teams who finished in the top half playing the teams who finished in the bottom half over three weekends of play-offs to determine the final placings.

Although the FOSROC Super6 Championship in the summer will be our main competition, the FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series will play a crucial part in building towards the first full season of Championship fixtures.

Scottish Rugby Head of Performance Programmes, Grant McKelvey said: “We’re delighted that both FreeSports and BBC Scotland will be continuing as broadcast partners of the FOSROC Super6. To be able to broadcast all 21 matches to a worldwide audience is a significant landmark development for the competition.

With cross-border opportunities on hold for this season due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, we’re focused on delivering a quality season of rugby at this important level. The FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series gives all players and teams an opportunity to showcase themselves with the expansive brand of rugby we saw in the last edition, played in better, hopefully warmer weather.

Once all Super6 clubs have managed to reset after the sprint we move into the block of 10 intensive fixtures for the FOSROC Super6 Championship, which culminates with the semi-final play offs for the top four placed teams in the league, followed by the grand final at the end of October.”

Bulls Head Coach Pete Horne said:

With news of the fixtures being announced, the excitement is really building to get back to competitive rugby.

Our boys have worked incredibly hard since Christmas and with the culmination of the U20’s 6 Nations and the club domestic season we are looking forward to having our full squad back together, ready to rip into the sprint competition.

Having spoken with the other coaches, it sounds as if everyone has recruited well and their squads are in a better position than ever to take the competition to another level.

As Champions from last season, we know the target will be on our backs but it will drive us to work harder as we aim for more success.”

FreeSports can be found on Freeview HD channel 65, Sky HD channel 422, Virgin HD 553, TalkTalk 64, BT Vision channel 64 and on the online FreeSports Player.

The Ayrshire Bulls fixtures in full:

Round 1

Friday 15th April

Ayrshire Bulls v Boroughmuir Bears

KO: 7.45pm – Live on FreeSports

Round 2

Saturday 23rd April

Stirling County v Ayrshire Bulls

KO: 4.30pm - Live on BBC iPlayer and Scottish Rugby website

Round 3

Saturday 30th April

Ayrshire Bulls v Heriot’s Rugby

KO: 4.30pm - Live on BBC iPlayer and Scottish Rugby website

Round 4

Saturday 7th May

Southern Knights v Ayrshire Bulls

KO: 4.30pm - Live on BBC iPlayer and Scottish Rugby website

Round 5

Saturday 21st May

Ayrshire Bulls v Watsonians

KO: 2pm - Live on BBC iPlayer and Scottish Rugby website

Once the standings are confirmed, the remaining fixtures will be as follows:

Friday 27 May
2nd v 3rd, 7:45pm – Live on FreeSports 
Saturday 28 May
5th v 6th, 2pm – Live on BBC iPlayer and Scottish Rugby website

Friday 3 June
3rd v 1st, 7:45pm – Live on FreeSports
Saturday 4 June
6th v 4th, 2pm – Live on BBC iPlayer and Scottish Rugby website

Friday 10 June
1st v 2nd, 7:45pm – Live on FreeSports 
Saturday 11 June
4th v 5th, 2pm – Live on BBC iPlayer and Scottish Rugby website


The Ayrshire Bulls will travel to Jersey to take on Jersey Reds, in the final weekend of March as part of our pre-season preparations for this seasons FOSROC Super6.

It will be the first time an Ayr side have played the Reds since a trio of matches that saw Ayr RFC play in 2014 & 2015, with the fixture enabling the home side to bridge the gap between the conclusion of the RFU Championship season and Championship Cup matches scheduled for April and May.

Jersey Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon said: “It will be great to welcome Ayrshire Bulls to Stade Santander International – we are looking forward to the challenge of taking on a team whose last match was a cup final win.”

Bulls Head Coach Pete Horne said:

“Everyone at the Bulls is excited to test ourselves against some quality opposition. We have an aspirational squad and competing against a full-time professional outfit who are flying high in the Championship will motivate the boys to bring out their best and help us prepare for the new season.

“It will also be a great chance for our guys to enjoy each other’s company for a couple of days somewhere slightly warmer and sunnier than the west coast of Scotland!”

The fixture will throw up some familiar faces; two members of the current Reds squad, Steve Longwell and Tom Everard, formerly played for the Bulls, as did Jersey Reds Athletic prop Ewan Davies.

The fixture is sure to be a great occasion as previously, the Reds and Ayr RFC were paired in the 2013/14 British & Irish Cup, with the Reds winning 28-16 on home turf but the Scots taking revenge with a 14-13 win at Millbrae. In August 2014 Ayr visited Jersey again for a pre-season match which resulted in a comfortable win for the Island side.

The fixture on Saturday March 26th will kick off at 3pm, with ticket details to be announced shortly. For full fixture information, including the Championship Cup, click HERE.


Scottish Rugby has today announced the FOSROC Super6 will return in the spring with two competitions taking place during the 2022 calendar year.

Now entering its fourth year the part-time professional league, which awarded franchises to six teams in 2018 (Ayrshire Bulls, Boroughmuir Bears, Heriot’s Rugby, Southern Knights, Stirling County and Watsonians Rugby), is hoping this is the first competitive playing season not impacted by covid.

The first competition in 2022 will be the FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series to start in April which will then be followed by the FOSROC Super6 Championship, which will start late summer.

The FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series will start on the weekend of Saturday 16 April, with all six participating teams playing each other once. The league will then be split with the teams who finished in the top half playing the teams who finished in the bottom half over three weekends of play-offs to determine the final placings.

Following the FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series, teams will combine to participate in a one-off match representing the East and West of Scotland. Players from Southern Knights, Heriot’s Rugby and Watsonians Rugby will be selected to represent the East with players from Ayrshire Bulls, Stirling County and Boroughmuir Bears selected to represent the west.

The FOSROC Super6 Championship itself will kick-off in the first weekend of August following a playing window that proved successful last year. The structure of the Championship will mean that every team plays each other twice, with semi-finals and a destination Grand Final.

Over the course of the year teams will compete in between 17 to 20 competitive fixtures, dependant on league standings.

Due to all home unions focusing on recovering from the pandemic, the Cross Border competition (which was due to take place in 2020) is currently not an option. By providing two competitions within Scotland during this playing period Scottish Rugby is looking to mirror the season, game time and number of fixtures that what was originally proposed.

As in previous years, five FOSROC Scottish Rugby Contracted Academy players will be aligned to each of the six clubs to enhance the development of the next generation alongside their full-time training at either Edinburgh Rugby or Glasgow Warriors.

In 2021 three former FOSROC Super6 players earned full international honours. Jamie Hodgson (Watsonians Rugby) became the first as he started in the second row in Scotland’s win over Tonga at BT Murrayfield during the Autumn Internationals, he was joined by Ross Thompson and Marshall Sykes (both Ayrshire Bulls) who made appearances from the bench in the same match.

From Scotland’s opening two rounds of the 2022 Under-20 Six Nations, there are 10 age-grade international players who played in the 2021 FOSROC Super6.

Ayrshire Bulls made history last year when they defeated Southern Knights to become the first ever Champions of the FOSROC Super6. Watsonians Rugby overcame Stirling County to earn third spot whilst Boroughmuir Bears got a victory over Heriot’s Rugby to take fifth place.

Whilst the rugby on-field has made strides in its development, one of the learnings from previous years of the FOSROC Super6, and from the professional game, is that Super6 teams require more off-field support as these aspects are critical to running a part-time professional team.

Scottish Rugby will provide financial support to the six teams in the appointment of a full-time General Manager to lead on their respective Super6 team’s off-field operations. Funding for this role will be allocated to the six teams from existing High-Performance budgets which has been approved by the Scottish Rugby Board.

It is hoped that by resourcing and investing in the off-field side of the competition, it will develop in a way that will help it meet the same level of professionalism on the field.

Scottish Rugby’s Director of Performance Rugby Jim Mallinder said: “The FOSROC Super6 made huge developments on the field last year. The type of game that was able to be played in the late summer window is conducive in developing the players in-line with the speed and intensity that the professional game is played at.

“To now have two windows in which to play Super6 rugby, the spring and late summer, is hugely beneficial in helping players develop and prepare better for a professional rugby environment.

“For Super6 players to have the opportunity to play between 17 and 20 competitive games full of intensity and physicality is what was always planned for Super6. The aims and objectives of Super6 [to bridge the gap between the amateur and professional game] has not changed since its inception.

“I’m really pleased that we have been able to allocate existing funding to each team in support of the General Manager roles. Whilst we’ve previously invested on-field we now feel that the time is right to support and invest in the teams off-field, within budget.

“The General Managers at each of the teams will be responsible for developing and improving all off-field activities prioritising commercial expansion and overseeing the marketing and communications strategy for each of their teams.

“We believe that by doing this, the teams and clubs will become more sustainable and able to create better environments more alike the professional rugby game."

Ayrshire Bulls Head Coach Pete Horne said:

"It will take a real squad effort for us to remain competitive in both competitions this season. However, we feel well placed to do so as we are starting to build some real strength in-depth.

I have been really impressed with how the guys have conducted themselves in their off season break and they have come back in good shape to start our pre-season."

Ayr Suffer Defeat At Melrose

Callum Kerr @ The Greenyards

In what was another epic encounter between Ayr and Melrose this afternoon, the Millbrae men couldn’t secure victory over their old foes. A secure performance defensively and slightly better reading on the unforced errors stats benefited the home side, who in the end came out 28-17 in front. 

As ever, the Greenyards provided a picturesque back drop for the encounter, delightfully boosted by the autumn sunlight sprawling across the pitch.

Ayr wasted no time in opening their account. Two minutes into the game a dropped ball from the hosts fell into the grasp of Jamie Bova who broke clear up the wing. The centre did well to entice the tackler before finding Ciaran Wood on his inside to finish off the move. The touchline conversion caught the November breeze eloquently to drift through.

The score managed to spring Melrose into life. Immediately they mounted pressure and marched towards the line from numerous touchline penalties. It looked like they were over minutes later, but the ref deemed their maul held up.

Ayr were still in bother. A yellow card to Scott Clelland was followed by a Melrose scrum which found Donald Crawford charging up the middle of the park. Crawford collided with several tacklers but had enough momentum to carry over for the score. David Colvine’s conversion tied it all up after a frantic opening ten minutes.

As the glimmering sun subsided behind the Eildon Hills the introduction of heavy clouds and harsh wind hindered the flowing rugby witnessed in the opening exchanges. A change in tack for both sides didn’t bring any more scores in the half, only a penalty a-piece to make it 10-10 at the break.

Half-Time: Melrose Rugby 10-10 Ayr Rugby

With the wind showing no sign in breaking the restart to the game would have been better suited for Wimbledon than the Greenyards. An array of mixed kicks from both sides aimed to exploit space behind the defence, and it was Melrose who made it fifteen-love.

Fullback David Colvine managed to stab the ball into touch and pin Ayr on their line. Following a further turnover, it was his brother who capitalised. Scrum half Bruce Colvine, usually known for his distribution, faked a crafty pass which parted the Ayr line, creating a gaping hole for him to stride clear. David Colvine poetically finished the job with the routine conversion.

Melrose soon stretched the lead further, with the boot of Colvine making it a 20-10 lead with an hour played.

Playing against the wind, Ayr were struggling to find territory, but a superior scrum allowed them to stay in the contest.

It soon turned out to be this superiority which thrusted them back into contention. From Melrose’s own scrum the Ayr pack drove them over their line, securing a team try. Bova once more slotted a tricky conversion in the conditions to make it 20-17.

As the match ramped up to its conclusion play became desperate. A barrage of loose passes and dropped balls resulted in electric pace – Ayr hell bent on stealing the lead and Melrose determined to stretch the gap. 

A Colvine penalty with a minute to play helped the home side’s cause, but Ayr did get one more roll of the dice.

With the clock in red, Ayr mounted one last attack and had the travelling support off their feet when Richie Simpson snuck through the line. The full-back looked around for his teammates but was met with a swarm of yellow jerseys. In a game which consisted of fine margins throughout, it ended with a pass narrowly missing the intended target, allowing Melrose to run clear and put the match to bed with one last score.

Full-time: Melrose Rugby 28-17 Ayr Rugby.

Ayr 1st XV Maintain Home Winning Streak

Ayr 1XV managed to maintain their 100% home win streak yesterday with victory over Watsonians at Millbrae. Despite leading 31-7 deep in the second half it was anything but routine for Stuart Fenwick’s men, with Watsonians mounting a late charge to threaten the lead. In the end the hosts just managed to hold out to secure a 31-28 win.

Contrary to the biblical rainfall that threatened the fixture for most of the week, come kick-off it was clear skies and blinding sun at Millbrae.

Ayr wasted no time in opening their account. From a loose ball flanker Robbie McLaren managed to latch onto possession and spring up a well-timed offload to catch the charging Ciaran Wood. The full-back had nobody in front of him and cantered over for the first score of the game. Jamie Bova made it seven points after seven minutes.

Ayr enjoyed superiority at scrum time, but from a successful drive on the twelfth minute jubilation soon turned into confrontation, resulting in a penalty reversal and Ben Cree seeing yellow for a bust-up with his opposite man.

Photo by George McMillan

The numerical advantage didn’t convert to points for the guests, and after the ten-minute binning Ayr found themselves further in front, courtesy of a Jamie Bova penalty.

Scoring began to slow down but Ayr remained on the front foot thanks to a dominating display at scrum-time.

After 26 minutes of deadlock, two scores in the final 90 seconds of the first half woke up the spectators.

The first extended Ayr’s lead further. McLaren, who set up the opener, was repaid by scrum-half Adam McGowan. McGowan wrangled through a barrage of tackles to find his seven with a crafty offload - McLaren stormed between the posts unchallenged.

The final act of the half was for the visitors. Despite not finding any success in the first 39 minutes Watsonians managed to think up a score from relative obscurity. A well-placed kick from Stoddart wasn’t delt with allowing the idle ball to be scooped up by their full back to run clear unchallenged. The conversion from Stoddart was good.

Half-time: Ayr Rugby 17-7 Watsonian FC

Ayr’s control in the first half transferred into instant success in the second. A pair of tries in similar fashion, for Ross McCorkindale and Cam Reece respectively, stretched the lead for Ayr within the opening five minutes of the half. Jamie Bova maintained his 100% kicking record on the day to make it a 31-7 lead.

Watsonians held in and didn’t dip their heads. Their resolve was rewarded on the 57th minute with a second converted try, bringing the score to 31-14.

A third five minutes later thrusted Watsonians back into the contest, with only a ten-point lead separating the sides.

Photo by George McMillan

Filled with new-found confidence Watsonians struck again, setting up a nervy final act keeping fans on the edge of their seats.

Ayr sprung back into life and managed to hog the ball for the last ten minutes, successfully inching their way to a three-point win.

Full-time: Ayr Rugby 31-28 Watsonian FC.

Robbie McLaren was responsible for the first two scores and rounded off an abrasive 80-minute display with Player of the Match honours.

It was similar fortunes for Ayr/ Millbrae, who charged to a 40-7 victory over Hillhead Jordanhill 2XV