BT Premiership


AYR 10

By Callum Kerr

AYR suffered their first defeat of 2018 at the hands of Heriots at Goldenacre.

A cruel wind plagued the match preventing free flowing rugby but in the end it was the home side who managed to tough it out.

Within the opening minutes Ayr received a chance to go ahead early when a penalty kick gifted them a line out inside Heriots 22, but we couldn't capitalise. From here, Heriots marched up the field into dangerous territory. They went wide and found Charlie Simpson who looked in for the score but excellent scrambling defence from Craig Gossman and Danny McCluskey brought him down. In the next phase their number eight was held up over the line.

Heriot's drew first blood soon after when Ross Jones converted the easy penalty kick to put them up five.

The following 10 minutes swung like a pendulum. Both sides looked dangerous in possession but lacked real conviction when it mattered. Ayr looked poised to get on the board when Heriots decided to run it out of their own half. They shipped the ball from side to side, looking to push past the gain line but Ayr wouldn't budge. Meteoric hits from Ayr's back-row- in particular George Stokes - knocked all the wind out of Heriots sales and they quickly found themselves throwing away possession. They were pinned for holding the ball on the ground and Scott Lyle made them pay with a tricky penalty kick considering the conditions.

The game wasn't tied up for long, and in 24 minutes it was the hosts who took full advantage of sloppy play. Ross Jones converted from the tee to make it 6-3.

The second half began in a manner completely alien to the first. Cagey forward carries had been replaced with free flowing rugby and gritty defence had been swapped for clean breaks from both sides.

The first score of the afternoon looked like it was going to come from Heriots. Flanker Ian Wilson picked a line that cut through Ayr's defence. With no one in front of him he looked like he was going to sail under the posts- but he didn't account for Craig Gossman. The winger tracked back and felled him. Wilson managed to offload to his number 8 who dotted down for the score but the ref waived for a forward pass. Somehow, Ayr had escaped unscathed.

The first try of the day came ten minutes later for Ayr. On the 65th minute Scott Lyle switched play and went left. He launched a lofty pass over the rushing Heriots defender and found Gossman in the corner. Lyle nailed the daunting touchline kick to make it 10-6.

The decisive blow came with just five minutes to play. After a kick to touch from Heriots they expertly used the rolling maul. A metre or so out from the line Ayr were penalised for bringing it down, Jonny Agnew received a yellow card and a penalty try was awarded.

Ayr now trailed by three and frantically marched up the field for one last shot at victory. They began to build phases ten metres out from the try line but it was too little, too late. Ayr lost the ball in contact and Heriot's cleared for touch.

Meanwhile, it was also a disappointing outing for the 2nd XV, who fell 29-5 to Heriots 2s.

At Millbrae there was more cause for celebration with Ayr's U-18s beating Highland in the Scottish Cup semi-final. The boys will go on to represent the club in the final at BT Murrayfield later on in the year.