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Ayr gain revenge for Jersey loss

When Ayr lost on Jersey in September - they had several grievances about the refereeing - one of the travelling support predicted:

"If we can keep 15 men on the park at Millbrae, we will beat that lot."

His prophecy came true on Saturday as the Millbrae men posted their second victory - and Scotland's in 24 attempts - of an otherwise dire British & Irish Cup campaign.

Once again, Ayr had to contend with getting on what they perceived as the wrong side of a match official, young James McPhail perhaps denting his chances of advancement to elite level with an arguable showing. But the players' anger at a referee they felt to be against them was channelled into an aggressive second-half display in which they scored two terrific tries, had a third controversially chalked off and denied Jersey any legitimate touchdowns.

The visitors made the better start and Ayr's troubles increased when Scott Sutherland was sent to the sin bin for a line-out infringement after 14 minutes. "I took the player too quickly; no complaints," Sutherland admitted afterwards.

The visitors hammered the home line and, as their scrum shunted the Ayr pack into the in-goal area and No.8 Tom Brown went to touch down, Finn Russell booted the ball out of his hands. McPhail called for a penalty try, wrongly in the view of everyone of an Ayr persuasion. He compounded his unpopularity by showing Peter Jericevich a yellow card, to reduce Ayr to 13 men, as Grant Pointer converted.

Ayr comfortably survived their period of being understrength, though, and finished the half on a high. Full-back Grant Anderson scorched up the right to touch down but, from his place behind play, McPhail ruled out the score. Undismayed, the home side kept attacking and, from a line-out, Fraser Brown, Callum Templeton, Sutherland and Nick Cox were all repulsed before Peter McCallum burrowed over at the posts, Russell converted and the scores were level at the break.

Forward power, in particular a devastating rolling maul, earned Jersey two Pointer penalties in the third quarter but, after 65 minutes and a period of softening-up work by their pack, Ayr moved the ball wide and Anderson ran a terrific intrusion line to go over for a try which Russell converted to put them in front.

Thereafter, with their collective dander up, Ayr dominated territory and possession for a great win. "I was delighted, we gave a gutsy display, kept our shape and discipline and closed the game out well," said Peter Laverie, the pleased Ayr coach. "It was an important win for the club and for Scottish club rugby. Most importantly, we fronted up."

It was a familiar tale of woe for Scotland's other entrants. Penalties from Ewan Scott (2) and David O'Hagan were not enough to stave off a defeat for Gala against Aberavon in Wales but the 11-9 margin was easily their best showing away from home.

It was a different story along the road at Sardis Road, where Pontypridd thrashed hapless Edinburgh Accies 43-0, while Munster's second stringers were too strong for Stirling County at Bridgehaugh, recording a 31-5 win.

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