Ayr lose arms race

Cardiff 30-27 Ayr

There may have been nothing at stake but pride for Ayr and Cardiff in their final pool match in the British and Irish Cup but the clash at the Arms Park showed just how strong a motivator pride can be.

Facing a powerful Cardiff outfit, Ayr pulled back from 20-10 down at the break to lead 27-20 going into the final stages, only a last gasp burst by Cardiff and a brave decision by the visitors seeing the points go to the home side.

 

Cardiff 30-27 Ayr

 

There may have been nothing at stake but pride for Ayr and Cardiff in their final pool match in the British and Irish Cup but the clash at the Arms Park showed just how strong a motivator pride can be.

Facing a powerful Cardiff outfit, Ayr pulled back from 20-10 down at the break to lead 27-20 going into the final stages, only a last gasp burst by Cardiff and a brave decision by the visitors seeing the points go to the home side.

Appearing at the historic Arms Park could have been a daunting prospect for some but Ayr seemed totally unafftected as they took the lead after only ninety seconds, Andy Dunlop going over from a set play for Frazier Climo to add the conversion.

Cardiff hit back and Craig Morgan, Dan Preece and Rhys James demonstrated the quality of the Welsh side as they ran in first half tries for Cardiff but Ayr rallied after half time with tries by Paul Burke and Andy Wilson with Climo, adding both conversions and a penalty to his first half conversion and penalty, to take Ayr into the lead.

Substitute scrum-half Tom Slater opened Ayr up in the sixtieth minute and Gareth Davies's conversion of his try levelled the scores.

Davies edged Cardiff ahead with a penalty three minutes from time but when Ayr had the chance to draw with a penalty well inside Climo's range, they opted for the kick to touch and to go for the win.

The drive off the line out was held, Cardiff banged the ball out and Ayr's cross border adventure was over-for this season at least.

"They were a physical side and had some really useful players" observed Ayr coach Kenny Murray "but we have learned as this tournament has gone and we were able to cope pretty well."

It was disappointing to lose the tries we did in the first half after we had got such a good start but our second half performance shows just how far we have come on.

"We could have kicked the last penalty but we didn't want to settle for the draw so we went for the win but our final drive on the lineout didn't quite get over."

So Ayr can hold their heads high having won two matches in the B & I Cup against Rotherham Titans and Birmingham and Solihull Bees and lost narrowly to Pontypridd and Cardiff with only the opening match against Doncaster Knights proving out of their reach, a result which could have been different had they met the pool winners later in the competition.

As Kenny Murray pointed out, the intensity, physicality and pace of these games has taken Ayr up several levels and that will stand them in good stead as they now concentrate on the Scottish Hydro Premier 1 run-in and the Premier Cup which re-commences on Saturday when Stewarts Melville head to Millbrae in the second round (kick off 12 noon).

Ayr have seven games to play in the league and with Currie having stretched their lead to ten points with a win over Stewarts Melville in mid week leaving Ayr still second with two games in hand, it is a huge ask for Kenny Murray's squad with the pivotal match now the clash with Currie at Malleny Park.