Bristol 29 - 19 Ayr: Scots side shine in B&I Cup defeat at Bristol

Ayr's brave campaign in the British and Irish Cup came to an end, but they could hold their heads high after achieving the distinction of taking the Scottish club game to a new level.

Non-golfing Bristol fans would have struggled to point to Ayr on the map, while the difference between the history of the two clubs could hardly have been more stark - one of the traditional giants of the English game against a side that has only been at the top in the last decade in Scotland.

But you'd have been forgiven for thinking that Bristol played in Ayr's pink and grey colours if you had only seen the last hour of this match, as the Scottish side dominated while playing all the rugby. A team of students, a schoolboy, a painter and decorator, policeman and so on up against a side of semi and full professionals. Yet if Ayr had started with the belief they ended with, they could even have snatched a historic victory.

The official man-of-the-match was a Bristol player, the unofficial one was a 17-year-old Scot - centre Robbie Ferguson who is due back in school today after a superb game, rounding it off with a well-taken try.

He would have been rivalled by Ayr captain Damien Kelly, who managed to get involved in everything from the second row - clearance kicks, turnovers, hard yards, good hands out wide; you name it, he did it at some point.

Ayr's only problem was that they started the game so slowly and were under immense pressure in the set pieces, Bristol's scrum and driving lineout doing immense damage early on. Weak defence let centre Jack Gadd in for the opening try. The second, scored by Wales World Cup Sevens winner James Merriman, came from a lineout drive.

Ayr did manage a reply, with a bit of good fortune, as Ferguson kicked through, charged down an attempted clearance kick and, as the ball bounced wickedly, wing Cammy Taylor was able to get over the line.

But Ayr indiscipline saw first flanker Paul Burke and then No 8 Andy Dunlop sent to the sin-bin, and Bristol were able to launch a 20-yard rolling maul for Merriman to add his second before the break against the 13 men.

At the restart Ayr let the kick-off bounce and Bristol wing George Watkins caught it and ran through unopposed to score, but the rest of the second half was all Ayr to the extent they can feel frustrated at not grabbing what would have been a famous victory.

They were helped by a couple of Bristol yellow cards which reduced Bristol's forward advantage, and wing Steve Manning finished off a good move in which Kelly was involved twice.

Dunlop should have scored from a cross-kick by outside half Ross Curle, but he dropped the ball in the dead ball area, before Ferguson took his score to narrow the gap to seven points.Ayr had another chance in the right hand corner, but Manning was held up, before Bristol got a penalty at the other end to relax the home support.

Bristol: J Tovey; A Elliott, J Adams, J Gadd, G Watkins; E Barnes, R Bolt; M Irish, R Johnston, D Crompton, M Sambucetti, R Winters, I Grieve (Capt), J Merriman, D Montagu. Subs: D Blaney for Johnston 75, W Thompson, D Barry for Sambucetti 69, J Miller for Montagu 75, R Shaw for Bolt 51, M Davies for Gadd 52, S Marsden.

Ayr: C McKeand; S Manning, R Ferguson, M Stewart, C Taylor; R Curle, A McFarlane; G Reid, S Adair, A Kelly, S Sutherland, D Kelly (Capt), R Colhoun, P Burke, A Dunlop. Subs: G Sykes for Reid 75, J Robinson for Adair 79, G Tippett for Dunlop 79, S Longwell for Manning 79. R Aitken, R Samson for McFarlane 40.