Selkirk are old-school, a Borders team “playing for the toon”, almost totally reliant on players they can produce from within their own community, some of whom – Ronnie Cowan, John Rutherford, Scott Nichol say – will go right to the top.
Sadly, in today’s BT Premiership, that time-honoured pattern no longer works, so, you get one-sided games such as this. Selkirk, already relegated this season, were whipped, but, they took their beating with the dignity and good grace you expect of this fine club.
The BT Premiership will, sooner rather than later, go semi-professional, and while Ayr will survive in that environment, Selkirk will not, but Murrayfield must find a system whereby this fine old club can continue to contribute to the good health of Scottish rugby.
Peter Wright, the Souters’ coach, offered no excuses. Yes, they were minus several first-picks through a “bug” which is rampaging through the club, but he can be consoled by the way his side never gave up – they did indeed play for the toon. With better ball retention, they might not have finished up on the wrong end of a thick coat of whitewash.
Ayr’s Calum Forrester knows his men will now most likely finish top of the pile at the end of the regular season, with home advantage in the play-offs. He was happy, particularly since the win was achieved on the back of a single team training session since before Christmas.
“Our ball retention in the first half in particular was what I have been looking for. We certainly got our last, disappointing display at Currie out of our system,” he said.
The match was one-way traffic, Ayr’s pack totally dominant from the off while Frazier Climo pulled the strings. Ross Curle fastened on to a neat Climo grubber for the opening try. Pete McCallum charged off an advancing scrum for number two, then Climo grabbed a super solo effort.
Blair Macpherson then charged over and Ayr had the four-try bonus sealed inside the opening quarter; with Craig Gossman brilliantly gathering two Climo chips for tries before Grant Anderson gathered a Selkirk kick ahead, exchanged passes with Richard Dalgleish and Will Bordill and burst through to score. Five Climo conversions making it 45-0 at the break.
Stout Selkirk defence kept Ayr to five second-half tries, with McCallum twice bursting through off advancing scrums to complete a hat-trick. He and Macpherson shared Man of the Match kudos, after the flanker scored his second try.
Ayr finished as they started, scoring, with replacement scrum-half Jack Preston and Dalgleish adding late counters, while Climo took his conversion count to nine.
Young French exchange referee Ludovic Cayre handled the game well, making light of the language barrier with clear signals. We don’t think he understood too much of the non-stop verbal assistance he received from curmudgeonly coach Wright on the touchline – which was perhaps just as well.