Stirling County 16 - 28 Ayr: Champion start to campaign

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Ayr got the defence of their league title of to a flyer yesterday afternoon at Bridgehaugh by seeing off a dangerous-looking opposition with relative ease.

The visitors scored two tries in the first half and added another two after the break as they took control of the match. All County could manage in reply was three penalties from the reliable boot of Brian Archibald in the first 40 and one try after the break from lock Ruaridh Leishman.

In near perfect conditions the two forward packs were pretty evenly matched, at least in the first half, but Ayr’s big men took control of this match in the second half and by the final quarter County’s set scrum had effectively run up the white flag.

But the real difference between these two teams lay in the ambition and execution out wide. While County were guilty of kicking too much quality ball away, and none too well at that, Ayr showed faith in their wide men and that faith was repaid with three of their four tries coming from the back three.

The pattern of the game had County hammering away at the Ayr defence without much to show for it. Stand-off Stuart Edwards came close to an early try, the same man was held up over the line in the second half, but Ayr were willing to concede three rather than seven and Country had to content themselves with Archibald’s kicks at goal.

In truth, Ayr looked a little 
ordinary in the middle of the field, but they leapt into life as soon as they got a sniff of the County try line, when they were transformed into try-scoring machines. The first touchdown came after eight minutes in what was their first attacking opportunity. The ball went wide to the right, fullback Grant Anderson made the extra man before finding winger Taylor on his inside for a simple but beautifully executed score.

If that was a team effort, Ayr’s next try came courtesy of the nimble feet of stand-off Ross Curle who danced past several flailing County defenders inside the 22 before handing Anderson a clear run to the line.

Enjoying a 14-9 lead, Ayr showed their intent early in the second half by eschewing a kick at goal and instead opting for the attacking 
line-out. That move didn’t come off, but not long after lock Scott 
Sutherland barrelled over the line from short range.

Ayr’s forward pack were increasing their grip on proceedings, so it was somewhat against the run of play when Country grabbed their only try of the match with replacement substitute Reyner Kennedy sending Leishman over the line despite the close attentions of Ayr fullback Anderson. Leishman’s score and Archibald’s conversion dragged County back into contention but only until Anderson scored Ayr’s bonus point try inside the final quarter.

Ayr’s big men banged their heads against the brick wall defence for numerous plays before the ball 
was whipped wide to the left for Anderson to dive over.

Jericevich added the extras and the remaining 15 minutes proved a lot less eventful than the previous 65 except for the unfortunate Stirling centre Danny Gilmour who was stretchered from the field after a nasty looking leg injury.