BT Premiership



By Stewart McConnell

HISTORY was made when these derby rivals locked horns for the first time in 38 years at Fullarton Park.

More than 1000 purple and gold and pink and black-clad fans packed into the ground, creating a febrile atmosphere and a bumper pay day for the home club.

When they last met in 1979 Roxanne had given The Police their first number top 20 hit, although to quote the title of another top tune from that legendary band, it could be said they had been So Lonely without the derby rivalry in four decades.

Marr were looking to preserve a two-and-a-half year home unbeaten record as they faced an Ayr side who had won back-to-back games following a disappointing start.

When the action got underway, Marr were awarded a penalty In four minutes for offside in midfield. Colin Sturgeon, playing his 102nd and final game before departing to play in New Zealand, nailed the set-piece from 35 metres to give the hosts the lead. That came after the visitors onslaught.

Home skipper Angus Johnston and visiting player Grant Anderson were both yellow-carded following a tussle, with Ayr awarded a penalty for a breakdown in the infringement. Scott Lyle sent a great kick between the posts to make it 3-3. Two minutes later Marr were awarded another penalty for offside and again Sturgeon's aim was true - this time from 14 metres.

Craig Gossman failed to catch a kick close to the flag for the Millbrae men in 19 minutes. Ayr were then awarded another penalty following offside in the ruck and again Lyle hit the target from close range in 24 minutes.

It was enthralling stuff with the teams evenly-matched and going toe-to toe.

Marr were reduced to 14 men five minutes later when Kyle Hatherall was sent off for a rash tackle.

Just before the break Richard Dalziel just failed to go on for a try in front of the posts,

The hosts were awarded a penalty for not releasing at the ruck and Sturgeon's effort went agonisingly wide of the upright from 25 metres in 43 minutes.

Play was stopped after a forward pass was thrown to Frazier Climo six minutes later.

Visiting player George Hunter uncharacteristically dropped a pass in 57 minutes.

Marr prevented a near-certain try thanks to resolute defending two minutes later.

Ayr were awarded a penalty try after the advancing scrum was illegally halted and they scored it to go 16-6 ahead with eight minutes left.

The reigning champions were awarded a penalty for offside in 78 minutes and Lyle converted to make it 19-6 to seal a hard-fought victory.

Marr battled hard but ultimately ran out of steam following the dismissal of Hatherall.

Ayr, while below their best, displayed their title-winning qualities to grind out a result while Marr just came up short but can take positives from keeping their rivals at bay until very late on.

MARR: Steele; Buchanan, Paxton, C Bickerstaff; Dalgleish, Sturgeon, Barreto, Jackson, Adair, Farquhar, Peterson, Bulger, Pearce, Miller, Johnston (captain). Replacements: Rossi, Nisbet, Grant, Hatherall, Kolarik.

AYR: G Anderson; Lyle, McCluskey, Climo, Gossman, Dewhirst, Warr, Hunter, L Anderson, Longwell, Badenhurst, Agnew, Spinks, McCallum, Stokes. Replacements: Young, Grant, Bova, Henry, Graham.