Callum Kerr @ Millbrae

This evening the Ayrshire Bulls secured full points at home to a belligerent Stirling Wolves side who refused to go away. Despite a 19-3 lead early in the contest, the visitors enjoyed long periods of control and fought their way back into it. A punishing Bulls defence proved the difference in the end, securing a 24-13 victory.

(Photo – George McMilan: Luca Bardelli diving clear for his second score)

The Ayrshire Bulls shot out of the traps with a score less than two minutes into the match. A poor exit kick from Stirling Wolves gifted the hosts valuable territory that Luca Bardelli turned into a score. Richie Simpson split the uprights to make it full points.


Before the crowd could get their breath back the Wolves responded with three points from the kicking tee – Marcus Holden narrowing the advantage to four.


The frantic nature of the contest continued and the Bulls found themselves making yards again. With a man overlap, Richie Simpson’s pass wide was knocked forward by Glenn Bryce resulting in a yellow card for the former Scotland 7s man. From the resulting maul, Grant Stewart broke off to score alone.


Ayrshire’s purple patch continued and soon enough Luca Bardelli had his brace. From the opposite side-line the wiry winger darted clear, leaping into the corner to evade the attempted tacklers. Simpson’s conversion to make it 19-3.


Stirling needed to turn the tide and after the score things started to go their way. A strong finish in the corner from Holden brought them back into contention and a yellow card to Lewis McNamara gave them a newfound swagger. They started to enjoy larger periods of possession but couldn’t close out the half with anymore points.


Half-time: Ayrshire Bulls 19-8 Stirling Wolves


The second half started in stark contrast from the first. A free-flowing affair started to tighten and a hardened niggle began to creep in. All of a sudden the game became an arm wrestle with neither side getting it their own way.


The Bulls broke through first after 15 minutes of back-and-forth. Stewart latched onto a rolling maul after his pin-point throw and let the pack drag him over the line.


Despite a flattering score Stirling weren’t going away and a cluster of Bulls’ mishaps kept them knocking on the door. They got their reward, with Kori Winters scoring with just over ten left to play.


For the closing stages of the match the Wolves upped the tempo in an attempt to rush in a score which seemed to startle the Bulls – who had a mismatched back line due to a handful of forced changes. When the Bulls needed crucial yards the 17-year-old centre replacement, Kerr Yule, delivered. A handful of trucking carries dragged his side out of danger in a number of occasions, preventing any late upset. The hosts didn’t leave their half in the final ten minutes but Stirling didn’t cross for a score. In the end it was full-points at home in pulsating fashion.


Full-time: Ayrshire Bulls 24-13 Stirling Wolves.


For long periods of time the game lacked creation but Luca Bardelli’s two moments of spark brought crucial points and earned him FOSROC Player of the Match honours.


The Bulls will look to go three-from-three next Friday when they face their first game on the road to Boroughmuir Bears.


The match kicks off at 19.35.