Bulls Secure Big Victory Over Knights

Callum Kerr

It was a monumental day yesterday for the Ayrshire Bulls, who secured an emphatic victory over the Southern Knights at the Greenyards in round four of the FOSROCSuper6 Sprint Series. The Bulls ran in ten tries on their way to a 12-62 win over their old foes.

In what was a re-run of the 2021 final, neither side would have expected half a century to be the difference come final whistle, but pack dominance up front gifted Peter Horne’s back line the perfect platform to flourish. Seven of the ten tries came from the backs, with youngster Jamie Shedden contributing a hat-trick on debut.

 

At full-time whistle Peter Horne was elated with the performance of his men. The Greenyards has been a happy hunting ground over the past five years for those in pink and black but this result stands alone as the largest margin. Speaking to press, Horne explained how his team were able to step it up from their previous outing: “In terms of our physicality against Heriot’s we talked about taking it up several notches. We really took the game to Knights.

 

“We were aggressive and brilliant in defence. We just completely outworked them with a performance built on the back of hard work.”

 

Ryan Sweeney opened the floodgates on the sixth minute. Despite the Knights enjoying most of the possession in the opening exchanges, the Bulls’ first real attack ended with Sweeney charging his way over from close quarters. Christian Townsend added the extras.

 

The second came three minutes later in their next trip to the Knights half. Christian Townsend looked out of options when scrum-half Cam Jones switched to the blind side, but the young fly half pulled off a crafty sidestep to cut through the line and dot down unscathed. He converted his own score.

 

Although there seemed an inevitability about the Bulls first two scores, the next one came from obscurity. From just inside the Knights half Tom Jordan decided to two-step his way through the line on his own, palming off the attempted tacklers with ease. With every successful hand-off he propelled himself up the park before diving clear.

 

The Knights first score followed. A well-worked team try looked like it was game on, but the hosts struggled to build on their efforts.

 

It took the Bulls four minutes to get back on the score sheet. A second from Tom Jordan, this time from one yard out instead of 45, was converted to bring scoring to 7-26 with the clock still to reach the half-hour mark.

 

A score for Alex McGuire followed, before Shedden contributed his first of three to conclude the half.

 

Half-time: Southern Knights 7-38 Ayrshire Bulls

 

Hopes from the home support that the interval might bring change were quickly diminished just one minute after the restart. A break from Cam Jones from the kick-off launched the Bulls up the park, before Aaron Tait was freed up in acres of space to sprint home before a defender could lay a finger on him.

 

Next was Shedden’s second, scored in similar style to his first. The winger’s large frame commands space out wide and the straggling defenders failed to force him into touch as he dived clear inches from the corner flag.

 

High on confidence, the Bulls could do no wrong and gambled on running out from their 22 in the following phase. Lewis McNamara, who was popping up everywhere during the match, sliced through slack defence and galloped free. The covering defender managed to pull him down but not before he fed the hands of speedster Tait, who scorched home for his second.

 

A yellow card for Andrew Nimmo was small reward for Southern Knights who were now playing for pride and not much else. A score with five to play give little consolation, but poetically it was the Bulls who concluded the scoring. With the clock in red and the Bulls still wanting more, Shedden latched onto an inside offload to canter over to complete his hat-trick and signal the end of the game.

 

Full-time: Southern Knights 12-62 Ayrshire Bulls

 

It was an afternoon for try scorers, but it was his work away from the line that secured FOSROC Player of the Match honours for Ryan Sweeney. In just his second game back from injury the flanker put in a power of work around the field and was ever-present in the arm wrestle up front that was dominated by the Bulls. His try to kick-start proceedings was merely the cherry on top.


Peter Horne delighted with 'Gutsy Performance'

Calum Fisher @ Millbrae

The Ayrshire Bulls prevailed against both Heriots and the elements on Saturday to record a 17-14 win at Millbrae.

Head Coach Pete Horne was really pleased with the result, “Last week we dominated the game and came away with nothing, we weren’t clinical enough and we spoke about that during the week” he said.

“I was so proud of the boys, the mentality was spot on, on days like this you have got to scrap for everything and outwork the other team and I felt like our boys did that” Horne said.

He continued by praising his sides’ ability to see out the game and secure the victory, “Heriots played really well to get back in to the game, they scored a cracking try and it was great to see our boys frustrate them, park it and move on. I’m really proud of them, it was a real gutsy performance”.

Alex Samuel also received praise from his Head Coach after the lock was awarded Man of the Match for his performance over the 80 minutes, “He optimises what we are talking about all the time, he gets through an absolute shift and he’s doing really well”. Horne added, “His physicality is really coming on and you forget that is only his fourth game in about a year so it’s brilliant”.

The scoring began in impressive fashion as a kick down the blind side of the scrum by Cameron Jones led to a try from Elias Caven after 13 minutes.

Heriots responded quickly though by powering over the line minutes later with a try from Jack Mann, the conversion thereafter was successful from the number 10, Bruce Houston.

The back-and-forth scoring continued in the 21st minute when the Bulls went over from close range themselves courtesy of Tom Lambert. Kicking again seemed to be an issue in the tough conditions as Christian Townsend missed the conversion once more, leaving the score at 10-7 in favour of the Bulls.

On 28 minutes the Bulls then pulled further in front. A lovely move finished off with Aaron Tait scoring and Christian Townsend kicking successfully to increase the lead to 17-7.

A spell of possession from Heriots prior to half-time looked likely to end in a score but the visitors ultimately came up short meaning the Ayrshire Bulls held their ten-point lead at the break.

It took until the 65th minute, after several periods of possession for both sides, for there to be any further scoring in the game. Heriots’ number 23, James Couper, racing over the line to bring the game back to life. Bruce Houston then converted to bring the visitors within three points of the hosts.

Heriots pushed hard to score again and battled their way into injury time with the ball in-hand, but they were penalised for holding on, concluding the game and sealing a hard fought 17-14 victory for the Bulls.


Bulls Name First Three Signings

The Ayrshire Bulls are delighted to unveil their first three signings ahead of the 2020/21 FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series later this month.

(Image - George McMillan)

 

Headlining the trio is the return of Tom Lanni, who signs from top English School Sedbergh. The former Ayr/Wellington Youth product made his Club XV debut last season and returns home to join the Bulls.

 

Second row Ed Bloodworth joins from Yorkshire Carnegie, who were in the English Championship last season.

 

Elias Caven also joins from down south, having played for Hartpury RFC and represented England Students.

 

Peter Murchie had the following to say on the appointment of his first three players:

 

Tom Lanni: "It's great to have Tom join the team. He had a great experience at Sedbergh in what is a quality set-up and I am looking forward to seeing how he develops".

 

Ed Bloodworth: "Ed picked up plenty experience in the Championship last year and is a hard-working second-row who is great in the line out. He has fitted in well in training".

 

Elias Caven: "Elias has come through the Hartpury system which is one of the leading in England. He is a quick and powerful back-three player who can make things happen. Again he has fitted in well and I look forward to seeing how he develops".

(Left to Right: Ed Bloodworth and Elias Caven)


Allanvale named Bulls Front-of-Jersey Sponsor

Ayr Rugby is delighted to unveil land development experts Allanvale as the front-of-jersey sponsor for the Ayrshire Bulls.

 

The three-year deal was launched at Auchincruive Estate, which Allanvale recently purchased with ambitious plans to transform the land. Pictured below is Director Jim Kirkwood (middle) alongside Ayr Rugby General Manager Glen Tippett (right) and Bulls forward Blair Macpherson (left).

Speaking at the launch Jim Kirkwood expressed his delighted to get the deal sorted ahead of the FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series next month: “What attracts us the most to the Ayrshire Bulls is their integration with the local community. They’re a part-time professional, FOSROC Super6 club, so they have a high profile and we’re looking to support that and for Allanvale to be as much a part of the club as we can be over the coming three years.

 

“Allanvale Land primarily focus on the development and promotion of strategic land and large development sites across Scotland. We are currently working on projects from Ayr all the way through Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Edinburgh.

 

“We are really looking to expand the business over the coming years”.

Speaking on the current redevelopment of Auchincruive Estate, Jim said: “This is one that is held firmly in the hearts of all employees and directors at Allanvale. It is a 300-year old estate originally designed by Robert Adam.

 

“We are the new guardians of it, and we are looking to redevelop it for residential, leisure and business use. We want to make it something that’s a real pride of the community in Ayr”.

Glen Tippet was equally delighted with the news and is excited to see the relationship between Allanvale and the Ayrshire Bulls grow over the coming seasons: “We are delighted to welcome Jim and the team at Allanvale to our growing family of sponsors and partners. The success of Ayr Rugby has always been built on strong local community partnerships that help us through. Having Allanvale, another local brand, onboard with us reinforces the support we have in our local community – we couldn’t be happier.

 

“The Ayrshire Bulls is a key part of Ayr Rugby and is the stepping stone for those players who want to progress onto professional rugby. Just like the other FOSROC Super6 teams we are preparing well for the Sprint Series and looking forward to getting back playing.

 

“When the time is right, I look forward to welcoming Jim and the Allanvale team to Millbrae”.

 

To find out more information on the work Allanvale are doing, visit: www.allanvale.co.uk

(All photos are credited to George McMillan)


Kitchen Pens Partnership Deal with Edinburgh

Congratulations to Hooker Sam Kitchen who has signed a partnership contract between Edinburgh Rugby and the Ayrshire Bulls. The move will see him join the capital side and be released to the Bulls when available. He becomes the second player to join Edinburgh this week after Marshall Sykes was unveiled on Monday.

Kitchen, 26, joined the Bulls last summer from Australian outfit Northern Suburbs and went on to top the FOSROC Super6 try-scoring table in its' maiden year.

 

The partnership contract was agreed with Edinburgh prior to the lockdown protocol in March.

 

Reflecting on his time so far, Kitchen said: "I have loved playing in Scotland this season. Coming over from Australia where the rugby is so much more open and expansive compared to here has been a big change for me but a great team environment and having Pat (MacArthur), a former test hooker, coaching has really helped me adjust and further my set-piece development".

 

All at Ayr Rugby and the Bulls wish Sam the best of luck in his next steps and look forward to welcoming him back to Millbrae in the future.


Cross-Border Cancelled

Scottish Rugby and the Welsh Rugby Union has today announced the cancelation of the 2020 Cross-Border competition between Scottish and Welsh club teams, due to the current restrictions and health advice around Coronavirus (Covid-19). 

 

The Ayrshire Bulls were set to compete in the competition commencing on Saturday 25 April, alongside the five other FOSROC Super6 teams and six Indigo Group Premiership teams from Wales (Cardiff, Llandovery, Merthyr, Ebbw Vale, Aberavon and Pontypridd).

  

All twelve teams were to play three home fixtures and three away fixtures over a consecutive six-week period in what would have been the first edition of this new club competition.

 

Scottish Rugby and the Welsh Rugby Union are committed to the competition moving forward, with discussions between both unions looking ahead to next season.

 

Ayrshire Bulls C.E.O Billy McHarg, said: “We are disappointed the tournament is not taking place as the club was very excited to be playing in it…

 

“However, every individuals welfare is of more importance and we wholeheartedly support the decision to postpone for this year”.


Awards Dinner Postponed

After considering current safety protocols around on-going Coronavirus (Covid-19) concerns, Ayr Rugby has made the decision to postpone the 2020 Pink and Black Awards dinner scheduled for April 4th.

The club is continuing to follow both government and Scottish Rugby advice to prioritise the safety of all staff, players, sponsors and fans.

Thank you to Ayr Racecourse for working alongside Ayr Rugby in organising what was set to be a fantastic event in beautiful surroundings.

We will keep everyone informed of a rearranged date in due course.

Photo - George McMillan


Millbrae closed until further notice

Following on from the club’s statement last Friday, Ayr Rugby have proceeded with the closure of all facilities at Millbrae in-line with government guidance on Coronavirus (Covid-19) and Scottish Rugby’s suspension of all rugby activity.

 

 

This is uncharted territory for the club and we are working hard to ensure the safety of all players, staff, sponsors and fans. We appreciate everyone’s understanding during this time.

 

 

This will result in immediate cancellation of any on-field activity, closure of club bar and denied gym access.

 

 

Ayr Rugby are monitoring both government and Scottish Rugby advice daily. We will strive to keep you informed as and when new information becomes available to us. We will update you on reopening dates when we can.

 

 

If you have any queries please direct them to [email protected].

 

Thank you all for your support during this time.

 

Photo - George McMillan


Rugby Suspended

Scottish Rugby have released a statement suspending all domestic competitions and training from Sunday 15 of March at 18.00 until, and including, 29 March.

This is uncharted territory for all parties involved and we are working together to ensure the safety of all players, coaches, volunteers, sponsors and fans. We appreciate everyone's understanding during this time.

Scottish Rugby's decision comes in light of government restrictions on public gatherings due to rising concern around Coronavirus (Covid-19).

 

This will impact rugby in all domestic league and cup fixtures, training, festivals and other rugby events as well as the FOSROC Super6 tournament, which come under Scottish Rugby's jurisdiction.

 

During this suspension period Scottish Rugby will undertake further assessment and advise on any further action that may be required. The Ayrshire Bulls Play-Off Semi-Final against Heriots Rugby next Sunday will therefore be affected.

 

The Scottish Rugby Age-Grade Programme (male and female) will also be cancelled with immediate effect for the remainder of the season. This includes all training sessions that were planned for the age-grade teams as well as all other age-grade internationals for the rest of the season.


Gordon Reid Departs the Bulls

Ayrshire Bulls prop Gordon Reid has joined English Premiership side Northampton Saints with immediate effect.

 

He joins the Saints for the rest of the 2019/20 season and is available for selection for their next match. The 33-year-old has played an integral role in the Bulls securing a FOSROC Super6 semi-final.

Last August Reid was unveiled as the Ayrshire Bulls first signing ahead of the inaugural Super6 season. The following month he was selected in Gregor Townsend’s Rugby World Cup squad where he went on to feature in all four of Scotland's matches.

 

In November he agreed a partnership contract between the Bulls and Glasgow Warriors. He leaves both sides to head south of the border.

 

We wish Gordy all the best at Northampton and thank him for his services.


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