Apr 13 2012 Ayrshire Post (main ed)
Rob Colhoun scores try hat-trick as Ayr Rugby Club crush Aberdeen Grammar
SO there we have it.
Ayr's RBS Premier League campaign ended, well certainly not with a whimper, but not with the bang that so many had hoped throughout the season.
The top three or four finish opportunity ended after the defeat against Gala but the side re-grouped to clinch a cup final place when they saw off Boroughmuir last weekend.
However, it was a strange sort of atmosphere around Millbrae on Saturday with what was to all intents and purposes a dead rubber but it turned out to be just a bit more than that.
There was no doubt that it was very much end of season stuff at Millbrae with nothing at stake for either Ayr or Aberdeen Grammar Rugby and at times the match resembled more an end of pier frolic as Ayr had the bonus point sewn up by half time.
Aberdeen struck first with a Rob Aloe penalty after the visitors had given Ayr nary a sniff of the ball in the opening five minutes. That was to be their only success of the first 40 minutes as Ayr upped the pace and only slack handling prevented the opening try until in 15 minutes, the flood gates opened.
It was as though Ayr had taken out a patent on the penalty to the corner, line out drive and try as they demonstrated in the 15th, 22nd and 27th minute and the man who came up with the ball on each occasion was flanker Rob Colhoun, notching that rarest of feats, a genuine hat-trick with three successive tries. Robbie Ferguson converted the middle one.
Ayr brought a bit of variety to their scoring method on the half hour, a scorching Grant Anderson break sending Cammy Taylor scuttling in at the corner for the bonus and at this point, with the score at 22-3, Aberdeen simply couldn't get hands on the ball.
Steve Aitken, Will Wardlaw and Grant Walker all had individual forays but from too far out to cause any real danger and with the pack under serious pressure, their efforts were few and far between.
In the first six minutes of the second half, Ayr ran in two cracking tries, firstly Richard Dalgleish after a lovely held up pass from Mark Stewart then Stewart himself off a sublime offload from Graham Fiskin, Fergusson converting the first. When Ayr brought on all their subs and suffered a couple of knocks however, they lost momentum and all credit to Aberdeen, they took full advantage.
The defence was asleep as Grant Walker shot over in the corner and they kept up the pressure for Aitken to glide in for try number two converted by Aloe but by this time Ayr had regained their composure and hooker Hayden Wisnewski was over after a massive drive by the pack.
Aberdeen could hardly call Morgan Ward's try four minutes from time a consolation but it showed they had kept trying but Ayr had the last word after Fiskin and AJ MacFarlane combined to put Taylor over for his second try in the final play of the game.
Ayr dominated the forwardexchanges and forced Aberdeen all too often onto the back foot for them to make any impression until the game was long gone.
The pack, even when completelyre-jigged as the game entered the final quarter, took charge, the front row with man of the match Denford Mutamangira and the restored Hayden Wisnewski ably abetted by Andy Kelly and Gordon Sykes ensured the Aberdeen front row had a torrid afternoon, Andy Dunlop and his back row cohorts John Willis and hat trick hero Colhoun were rampant at times and Blair McPherson looked solid alongside the formidable Scott Sutherland.
The backs ran some splendid lines, Taylor and Anderson looked particularly sharp and one had to muse as to why the sort of form of the past two weeks has eluded Ayr in crucial league matches.
Coach Kenny Murray was not unhappy with the performance immediately after the game.
He said: “We played some really good stuff today and some of the passages of play were great to see. We took a few knocks on the hard ground but the lads now have a week off to recover but from now it is all about training well, focussing on Murrayfield and concentrating on retaining the cup.”
So now it is a break of a week to let the bumps and lumps subside and then off to Murrayfield where Ayr will hope to rescue something from the season.
The incentive is great, not only to retain the RBS Cup but also to create history by becoming the first side to win the cup three years in succession.
We will take a look next week at the cup final prospects with some of the key players at Millbrae and after the final will be the time to look back and see where Ayr's aspirations from a season which has had its undoubted successes, not least in the British and Irish Cup, fell agonisingly short.