Ayr ‘need a better start’ says Peter Murchie ahead of Heriot’s clasha

Ayr head to BT Murrayfield this afternoon looking to secure the double, with Heriot’s standing in their way.

David Corbenici scores a try for Ayr in their 29-23 victory over Heriots in last months Premiership final. Picture: SNS/SRY.
David Corbenici scores a try for Ayr in their 29-23 victory over Heriots in last months Premiership final. Picture: SNS/SRY.

The two teams played out a very high-quality Tennent’s Premiership final at Millbrae three weeks ago and, if they can repeat that type of form, then those at the national stadium will be in for a real treat.

In fact, it shows just how well both teams played in the game that Ayr won 29-23 that there is only one change in the starting XVs for this one.

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The Ayr team is the same, while former Scotland under-20 winger Rory McMichael comes in for the unlucky Craig Robertson in the Heriot’s backline.

Craig Miller and Glasgow Warriors’ Robbie Nairn come on to the Ayr bench for Euan McLaren and Ratu Tagive.

“What a great way to end the season with the cup final at Murrayfield against Heriot’s,” Ayr head coach Pete Murchie said. “The league final against the same opposition was a very good game of rugby with the scoring swinging back and forth for the majority of the match.

“We were pleased with the way the guys stayed calm after going behind early and had the belief that opportunities would come. A better start this week, though, is vital. The players have worked hard in training to improve a few key areas going into the game and the numbers at training from players who knew they were unlikely to be involved in this game has been great to see. This has helped push the guys to have the best preparation.

“We know the challenge that Heriot’s will pose and we will have to be on the top of our game. With numerous buses making the trip from Millbrae to Murrayfield, we want to do our supporters proud.”

His opposite number, Phil Smith, said: “If the two groups of players can again play to form this should be a fitting spectacle for Murrayfield.

“The game at Millbrae saw the two best teams in the country throwing everything at it and getting plenty reward for their endeavour, though I am sure the defence analysts would argue differently.

“We have now refocused after giving the players a bit of time off, picking up on a couple of areas of our game that need to improve to give us a chance. The carrot of running out at Murrayfield has meant there has been a real enthusiasm in our training.

“Murrayfield is where every team would want to finish their season I am sure. I just hope we are able to put a performance fitting of the arena and occasion to showcase the club game.”

The match is one of six to be played on the day.

It all starts with the men’s Bowl between Aberdeenshire and Dundee University Medics while Berwick and Greenock meet in the Shield final.

Greenock’s team will include Stuart Hogg’s older brother Graham who said: “I have watched Stuart play at Murrayfield loads so it will be nice to get a run out there myself. As things stand I will be hanging the boots after this season so it would be nice to end things on a high note.”

In the Sarah Beaney Cup final Hillhead/Jordanhill and Watsonians meet for a second successive year.

Hills head coach Aird Jardine said: “The more the season has gone on this year the more the girls have come together as a team. There is a real strong sense of cohesion and team spirit amongst them.”

In the women’s Plate, Stewartry take on Glasgow University while, in the Bowl, Livingston and Greenock Wanderers are to clash.

Both of these games will be on the back pitches.