Ayr’M Scare’M

Ayr escaped heart-ache when a last-minute Heriot's penalty went wide at Malleny Park to see them scrape past their hosts (17-19).

In a performance that typified the final third of Ayr’s season – fatigued but resilient to the end – the side that have endured the inaugural British & Irish cup and a full calendar of league and cup fixtures to reach the final at Murrayfield (while keeping their league title defence on track to the last game of the season) were visibly under par when they played Heriot’s just five days after their exhausting 16-13 defeat to league rivals Currie at the same ground.

The result means that Currie need just two points from their match against Glasgow Hawks at Burnbrae on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) to seal the title.

Ayr escaped heart-ache when a last-minute Heriot's penalty went wide at Malleny Park to see them scrape past their hosts (17-19).

In a performance that typified the final third of Ayr’s season – fatigued but resilient to the end – the side that have endured the inaugural British & Irish cup and a full calendar of league and cup fixtures to reach the final at Murrayfield (while keeping their league title defence on track to the last game of the season) were visibly under par when they played Heriot’s just five days after their exhausting 16-13 defeat to league rivals Currie at the same ground.

The result means that Currie need just two points from their match against Glasgow Hawks at Burnbrae  on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) to seal the title.

With the posts down at Goldenacre, it was a shrewd move to relocate the match to Malleny Park where the “hosts” could bank on the backing of the Currie support, who knew that a Heriot’s win would see Currie crowned as league champions a week before the end of the season.

Two Heriot’s tries inside the first 20 minutes put the Edinburgh side on track to cause the unexpected upset when under-20 international flanker, Michael Maltman, shrugged of two tackles to break through for the first score before scrum-half Sam Johnson gassed through from a close-range quick tap for the second.

Stand-off Greig Rutherford added both conversions, 14-0.

At this point it was conceivable that Ayr would concede an easy score and the game would be over but they refused to lie down and battled back into Heriot’s half.

Heriot’s number 8 Jamie Syme was then adjudged to kill the ball on his five metre line and was consequently sent to the sin-bin.

The one-man advantage was all Ayr needed and, just one minute later, stand-off Frazier Climo was converting a try from blind-side flanker Jonathan Crossan to the put the visitors back in the match, 14-7.

Ayr then continued to apply pressure to the wide areas to exploit the overlap but deteriorating weather conditions meant that their often commendable attempts to throw it wide were thwarted by spilled ball.

However, two minutes from time the ball found its way to outside-centre Ross Curle who did well to slip between the opposing drifting defence to score.

Climo’s conversion drew the scores level at half time.

HALF TIME: 14-14

Ayr completed their come-back just four minutes into the second-half when scrum-half Jamie Hunter who, after appearing to knock on, collected the loose ball and accelerated through the gap for the score.

Crucially (despite registering another five-pointer) Climo’s missed conversion meant that a Rutherford penalty ten minutes later put Ayr just two points away from losing the title, 17-19.

It was then that Heriot’s started to up the tempo with a big break through the middle by rangy lock, Chukwuma Osazuma, heralding the beginning of an extremely tense finish.

In what was to be the last real attacking opportunity of the game, Maltman broke down the right wing, doing tremendously well within inches of the touchline.

The ball was recycled and spun to the far touchline where wing Jonny Alston made an equally courageous break before being brought down five metres from the try line.

Repeated pick and goes crashed into Ayr’s defense before they were penalised for killing the ball – offering Rutherford the chance to end Ayr’s title defence from a penalty out wide.

Ayr breathed a collective sigh of relielf as the kick was just short to extend their title hopes for one final week.

FINAL SCORE: 17-19


HERIOT’S
Colin Goudie; Jonny Alston, Max Nimmo, Richard Mill, Stuart Hogg; Greig Rutherford, Sam Johnston; Alan Dymock, Kevin Bryce, Wullie Blacklock, Chukwuma Osazuwa, Peter Eccles, Maichael Maltman, Chris Fusaro, Jamie Syme
Substitutes
Neil Meikle, Malcolm Welsh, Jason Hill, Michael Goldie

AYR
Grant Anderson; Andy Wilson, Ross Curle, Mark Stewart, Steven Manning; Frazier Climo, Jamie Hunter, Gordon Reid, Pat McArthur, Stuart Fenwick, Damien Kelly CAPTAIN, Blair McPherson, Jonathan Crossan, Andy Dunlop, Glen Tippett
Substitutes
Steven Adair, Scott Nimmo, Gibson Swio, A J MacFarlane, Dougie Steele