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February 26, 2010

Crunch match for Ayr


Paul Burke starts for Ayr but the flanker was in Glasgow colours last week
Ayr take on Pontypridd in the penultimate Pool D fixture of the inaugural British and Irish Cup at Millbrae tomorrow (ko 3.30pm).

The top four teams in the tightly contested group are separated by just a single point: Doncaster Knights and Rotherham Titans top the table with 10 points (Doncaster with a game in hand) while Ayr and Cardiff are on nine. Pontypridd are in fifth place.

With the pool so close, and Rotherham and Cardiff going head-to-head this weekend, the match which is expected to see around 400 traveling Ponty fans descend upon Millbrae, is crucial to the Ayrshire clubs chances of qualification.

Scrum-half AJ Macfarlane will start the match with Jamie Hunter coming in at stand-off.

Hunter’s arrival sees the competition’s top point scorer, Frazier Climo, move out on place to inside-centre.

Gary Strain is the latest Glasgow Hawk to turn out for Ayr.

Ayr coach Kenny Murray said: “Our last outing in this competition was against Birmingham and Solihull, at home, where we enjoyed an excellent 49-17 victory.

“Saturday’s opponents, Pontypridd, will provide a stern test as they are a strong, aggressive team and are lying third in the Principality Premiership behind Neath and Swansea.”

Looking ahead to the fixture he added: “We have really enjoyed this tournament. The players, coaches and club officials are keen to maintain a good home record not just for Ayr but Scottish Rugby too.”

Crucial to the permutations of qualification is that, while Doncaster and Ayr face the lowest and second-lowest teams in the group (both of whom are yet to register a win), Rotherham travel for a crucial clash against Cardiff.

Ayr

15 Dougie Steele

14 Johnny McClung
13 Ross Curle
12 Frazier Climo
11 Cammy Taylor

10 Jamie Hunter
9 AJ MacFarlane

1 Gordon Reid
2 Stuart Fenwick
3 Gordon Sykes
4 Damien Kelly CAPTAIN
5 Scott Sutherland
6 Johnno Crossan
7 Paul Burke
8 Andy Dunlop

Substitutes

16 Stephen Adair
17 Gary Strain
18 Duncan MacLeod
19 Glen Tippett
20 Blair McPherson
21 Andy Wilson
22 Steven Manning

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