RBS Premiership: Race is on as chasing pack battle to keep Ayr in sights
AYR may not be hammering many sides, but they remain top of the pile with Gala now leading the chase to halt them in the RBS Premiership.
The Millbrae side have lost just once so far, away to Currie, while Gala’s sole defeat was to Ayr at home. Still, Gala are just eights points behind with two games in hand, games at home to Stirling and down at Melrose on 10 and 24 November respectively before the clubs meet in Alloway on 1 December.
It is a crucial period and after claiming a narrow win at Raeburn Place, Gala know they need to keep up momentum against what will be a tougher Edinburgh Accies side, fresh from a thumping win over Currie. Simon Cross, the Accies coach, has also received extra advice from ex-All Blacks coach Wayne Smith recently and is stepping into the Glasgow Warriors coaching team as defence coach while Matt Taylor is with Scotland, as part of the SRU’s drive to develop club coaches. But he insisted his focus remains firmly on Accies continuing their drive towards the top four.
“I really enjoyed the time I spent with Wayne,” he said. “You learn so much from someone like that, and I’m looking forward to learning about how things work at Glasgow, but Accies are the priority.
“The boys deserved their excellent win [over Currie] last weekend and it means that we’re heading to Gala on a high. We understand the enormity of the task at hand, but there is no pressure on us and we’re going down to Netherdale to emulate the win we had there a couple of years ago.”
Accies are also making big steps off the field, announcing a renewed sponsorship deal with HM The Queen’s silversmiths, Hamilton and Inches, and the youth charity SkillForce, whose patron is Prince William, and which operates across 41 Scottish schools, including nine in the capital.
Ayr appear to have the easier task today, away to bottom club Dundee, but coach Kenny Murray is eager that his players do not view a trip to Mayfield as a certainty for five points.
“This is another big game for us against a Dundee team whose current league position belies their ability,” he said.
“They’ll be desperate for points and are always strong at home so the challenge and competition is as stiff as ever. We will need to be at our very best to claim a victory since everyone is trying to knock us off the perch.
“We scored some very good tries last week against Boroughmuir, our scrum and lineout were strong and we countered well, but defence wins you games and our training preparation has focused on tackling and defensive organisation. It should be an entertaining match to watch as Dundee are well-coached and the ageing [Dundee Director of Rugby Ian] Rankin always has a trick or two up his sleeves!”
Elsewhere, Stirling host Heriot’s, Aberdeen Grammar are at Boroughmuir and Melrose look to bounce back from their home defeat to County with victory at Currie, which is vital if they are to stay in the race for a third successive championship.
But to finish this week, we have a humorous story sent to us by our Ayrshire correspondent, which underlines how some things don’t change in the club game. Forty-seven years ago, Ayr were in the capital playing Boroughmuir and, with the hosts not having clubrooms then, everyone went to the Golf Tavern after the match.
Jock Craig (Ayr’s Director of Rugby) had been up against Bill Noble (Boroughmuir President) that day and the pair enjoyed several beers outside, under a tree, where Bill, “in his more hippy days”, was playing his guitar. Time passed and Jock got up to leave with the Ayr team only to discover they and the bus had left without him. He got home late on Sunday evening, insisting “it’s a long way from Edinburgh to the farm”.
Fast forward to last Saturday and the pair were reminiscing about that incident after the Ayr-Boroughmuir match over a beer, when Bill got up to leave, only to discover the team bus had left without him!
Now into the autumn and a couple of 2pm kick-offs, the race is on for everyone else to ensure they are not left behind by Ayr.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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