GHA RFC Match 27: GHA RFC 3 – 9 AYR RFC
2003/2004: Scottish Premiership One
|A. Scott||15||J. McClung|
|R. Watson||14||G. Tait|
|R. West||13||S. Magorian|
|I. Leighton||12||N. Lavelle|
|R. Jericevich||11||S. Denny|
|E. Baillie||10||G. Ferguson|
|S. O’Donnell||9||M. Goldie|
|C. Birchall||1||G. Sykes|
|S. MacKinnon||2||L. Bruning|
|C. Hastie||3||E. Logan|
|J. Mundell||4||S. Lines|
|J. Eddie||5||D. Kelly|
|E. Smith||6||P. Burke|
|L. Hazelton||7||C. Pollock|
|A. Plastow||8||G. Tippett|
|G. Blackburn||16||C. Hepburn|
|T. Carmichael||17||S. Heaton|
|Mr A. Hepburn (Lenzie)|
In complete contrast to the glorious autumnal conditions, this was as drab and colourless a game as will afflict GHA supporters this season. Perhaps the battle for safety in the top league lay behind this error-strewn affair – a motif later suggested by the visitors’ coach – but in truth, a lack of invention is nearer the mark.
There may have only been league point between the two teams, but Ayr had the big confidence booster at Braidholm of a win under their belts with the home side’s points all of the bonus variety in near-miss matches. Too often the home side, particularly, opted for the boot rather than hands; with the net result being aimless kicks turning over possession and leaving the chasers out of position for any counter-attack. Best at that particular threat was Ayr centre, Nick Lavelle, easily the game’s most adventurous player, with only GHA No.9 Stephen O’Donnell willing to match his guile and pace.
GHA had the first opportunity to get on the board, but Steve O’Donnell’s penalty from 40 yards had neither legs nor direction. The match swung from end to end, first Ayr squandering three chances off lineout drive, Nick Lavelle was tackled a yard short from a huge scrum surge but when GHA rumbled the scrum, O’Donnell had two quick bursts to take play into the Ayr danger zone. However, Glen Tippet and Michael Goldie swept back into the GHA half only to prove unable to unpick the home defence. O’Donnell tried the quick tap once too often and was nabbed inside his own 22 for Lavelle to score from out wide to give Ayr a lead they deserved on pressure.
The second half continued as the first with neither side willing to risk anything remotely adventurous until Ian Leighton kicked deep into Ayr’s 22m, GHA stole the lineout, won the scrum but were turned over for Ayr to survive the home side’s best chance.
Then, with the second of two penalties, Lavelle doubled the Ayr lead before slotting his third penalty with seven minutes remaining. Into the third minute of injury time O’Donnell banged over the penalty which salvaged a bonus point for GHA.
George Breckenridge, Ayr’s coach, agreed: “That was a dour game, it wasn’t pretty, and I think both sides were tentative because of our positions in the table. It was very much a forwards’ defensive battle today. But our discipline was good and they had only two kickable attempts at goal. It was an away win for us and that’s a real bonus. We’ve got that winning habit now to take to Hawick.”
Andy Plastow, player/coach at GHA, looked baffled afterwards; “That was really disappointing, we’ve got to start winning games. Once again, it was just basic errors. We’d get down into their half then knock the ball on, or turn it over. We are just not working together as a 15.” He refuted the suggestion that his side had kicked too much away, saying: “In the past, we have been guilty of trying to run everything, getting caught in our own half and giving penalties away. We are trying to get away from that and play the game in the opposition half.”
Source: The Scotsman & The Glasgow Herald, Monday 6th October 2003