Ayr 28-24 Gala: Curle’s boot gives Ayr the edge

AYR and Gala began season 2014-15 where they left off last season, with a wonderful display of attacking rugby, which produced seven tries, but the same result – a narrow win for Ayr.

Fergus Scott scores Ayrs second try to give the home side an 18-7 half-time lead against old rivals Gala. Photograph: Gary Hutchison/SNS

The Millbrae men have centre Ross Curle’s greater accuracy with the boot to thank for their ­narrow win, as Gala out-scored them by four tries to three.

Not that the two bonus points will assuage Gala coach George Graham’s hurt at the result. His side gave their all, but came up just short.

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Gala opened well, George Graham Junior rescuing a disintegrating and retreating scrum to scamper home for a try, converted by Craig Dods with barely one minute on the clock.

The remainder of the first half, however, belonged to Ayr. Curle opened their account with a seventh-minute penalty, then, in ten minutes young David Armstrong, the scrum-half making his competitive debut, started off on the road to the Man- of-the-Match award with a sniping, opportunist try, converted by Curle.

A second Curle penalty stretched the Ayr lead, before Ayr survived some fierce Gala pressure, which saw Curle make a terrific try-saving tackle to deny Grant Somerville. Then, late in the half, Chris Weir copped a yellow card and Ayr made their advantage count with an unconverted Fergus Scott try for 18-7 at half-time.

Gala again struck first after the break, Somerville scoring an unconverted try, whilst his opponent, Craig Gossman, was treated for an arm injury which saw his retiral.

Again Gala took charge, and again Ayr hit back, pirating lost ball in midfield for Kerr Gossman to burst up the left and put Grant Anderson over. Curle converted for 25-12.

The loss of prop Fraser Watt then severely hampered the Ayr scrum. Craig Dods converted a penalty try to make it a six-point game, but the Ayr driving maul was a potent weapon throughout and when Gala collapsed it, Curle kicked the penalty.

This proved crucial as Gala ­finished on the attack, Josh Irvine scored a 75th minute close-range try, but another failed conversion saw Ayr hold out for a well-earned victory.

A cracking game, but what a standard these two have set for the rest of the Premiership.

Ayr: G Anderson; C Gossman, R Curle, D Kelbrick, K Gossman; D McCluskey, D Armstrong; N Cox, F Scott, F Watt, S Sutherland, R McAlpine, S Sutherland, C Templeton, A Dunlop, B McPherson. Subs: S Fenwick, J Malcolm G Lowe, M McConnell.

Gala: C Dods; G Somerville, C Auld, A Emond, G Speirs; R Howarth, George Graham; L Pettie, R Anderson, E Johnstone, C Weir, O Patepoi, Gary Graham, S Cairns, T Weir. Subs: C Mackintosh, J Irvine, E Dods, D O’Hagan, E Scott.

Referee: N Patterson.