Ayr booked their place in the RBS Cup Final for the fourth successive year courtesy of their 15-5 triumph over Dundee HSFP at Mayfield this afternoon.
The visitors, who will face Melrose in the final on the international pitch at Murrayfield on Saturday 20 April, defended well, especially in midfield and had just that little bit more spark about them than Dundee.
Meanwhile the other finals on the day, the RBS Shield and the RBS Bowl will be contested respectively by Livingston and Marr and Grangemouth and Oban Lorne.
Returning to Tayside, however, and Ayr were almost victims of their own impatience at times today.
They would break from deep and then make handling errors or try to force play when calm authority was required.
Dundee took the lead against the run of play in the first –half when from turnover ball in their own 22, they worked possession to left winger Calum Bowie. Acting in unison with Andy Dymock, the duo set up a try for flanker Iain Wilson, who flirted with the touchline in the process but satisfied referee David Changleng that he’d scored.
Ayr, as backs coach Peter Laverie reflected, demonstrated what they could achieve when they went through the phases, compelling Dundee to make one tackle after another, until, eventually, the hosts ran out of numbers for Peter Jericevich to feed Glasgow Warriors EDP prop George Hunter who crashed over for the equalising try. Jericevich’s conversion secured Ayr a 7-5 interval buffer.
Jericevich added a 68th minute penalty – Jack Steele had been off target with an earlier goal attempt for Dundee – and as the home team tried manfully to inject some zip to their game, Ayr, with Hayden Wisnewski and Scott Sutherland giving a stirring lead up front, closed out the match with a fine try by Scotland under-20 centre Robbie Fergusson.
Therefore the swansong of a Murrayfield cup final for Dundee’s retiring Director of Rugby, Ian Rankin, was not to be and instead the double remains very much alive for RBs Premier Division champions, Ayr.
At Netherdale in the other semi-final, the lead changed hands nine times before Melrose dumped Cup holders Gala out of the competition with a dramatic 34-29 victory. Melrose scored four tries through Joe Helps, Bruce Colvine, Bruce Dick and Richard Ferguson, Helps converting all of them and adding two penalties for good measure.
Gala’s points came tries by George Graham and Craig Keddie. Lee Millar added the other 19 points with five penalties and two conversions.
In the RBS Shield Marr accounted for Aberdeenshire at Woodside 44-20, while Livingston won at Almond Park against Gala YM by 27-22.
And in the RBS Bowl, there were victories for Oban Lorne (27-0 against Broughton) and Grangemouth Stags (23-20 against Kinloss Eagles)
In the RBS Premier Division Currie completed their league campaign with a 19-15 win over Edinburgh rivals Heriot’s.
The victory leaves Currie on 40 points in seventh place in the table but with Melrose and Dundee HSFP beneath them in home league action against Aberdeen Grammar Rugby and Stirling County respectively next weekend, the equation concerning the four British & Irish Cup slots and who plays in the relegation play-off at the foot of the table remains unresolved.
Heriot’s losing bonus point means their RBS Premier Division status is intact.
Glasgow Hawks secured the RBS National League title and a return to the Premier Division after a hard-fought 13-7 margin over city rivals Hillhead/Jordanhill at Old Anniesland. Thanks to Iain MacIntosh for providing the image of Hawks' celebrations.