MATT VALLANCE @ Millbrae
HAVING suffered a painful defeat in the play-off Grand Final the last time Heriot’s came calling, this was one game Ayr were hell-bent on winning, and against that determination typified by a tremendous home defence – the visitors simply had no answer.
Craig Gossman gave Ayr the lead with a third minute try, straight off the training ground, when he burst onto scrum ball and charged home from the 2o metres out, with Frazier Climo adding the conversion.
The Ayr pack gradually wrestled supremacy and midway through the half they efficiently worked through ten phases, before Heriot’s conceded a penalty which was quickly taken by Ross Curle, who scuttled over before the visitors’ defence could react. Climo again added the extras.
Climo then added a penalty goal, but, on the half-hour mark, Heriots’ driving maul got some capital off a short-range line-out and Michael Liness touched down. Alex Hagart added converted, but Climo goaled a second penalty to give Ayr a 20-7 lead at the break.
Ayr drew first blood at the start of the second half thanks to that trusty midfield axis which has consistently served them so well. Curle ran a great line onto a Climo’s reverse pass and skipped through the Heriot’s defence to leave his stand-off pal with a simple conversion.
Heriot’s quickly cancelled this out, working through the phases to put John Rae over wide out, with Hagart again converting.
Curle then picked-up what is, for him, almost an obligatory yellow card against Heriot’s, for a tip tackle, but the visitors couldn’t make their one-man advantage pay and it was short-handed Ayr who scored, with Climo slotting his third penalty.
Struan Cessford then saw yellow, meaning it went to uncontested scrums for a spell, but with Ayr butchering one or two good chances there was no further scoring.
“We didn’t look after the ball well enough, while our indiscipline let us down,” said a disappointed Phil Smith of Heriot’s.
“Happy with the result, with our performance and with another good display from our younger players. It was a good way to end this phase of the season,”said Ayr’s Calum Forrester.
This result will ensure the Ayr Club Ball later in the evening goes off with a definite swing.
Ayr: G Anderson; R Dalgleish, A Russell, R Curle, C Gossman; F Climo, D Armstrong; G Hunter, D Young, S Longwell; R McAlpine, S Sutherland; B Macpherson, W Bordill, P McCallum. Substitutes used: L Anderson, A Prentice, C Stevenson, C Taylor, S McDowall.
Heriot’s: G Bryce; J Rae, J Laird, J Semple, G Parker; A Hagart, A Simmers; G Cameron, M Liness, R Mitchell, C Marshall, R Nimmo, M Maltman, J McLean, S Dewar. Substitutes used: G Turner, S Cessford, C Smith, T Wilson, E Fox.
Referee: Lloyd Linton
Ayr: Tries: C Gossman, R Curle (2); Conversions: Climo (3); Penalty Goals: Climo (3)
Heriot’s: Tries: M Liness, A Hagart; Conversions: Hagart (2)
Scoring sequence (Ayr first): 5-0, 7-0, 12-0, 14-0, 17-0, 17-5, 17-7, 20-7 (h-t). 25-7, 27-7. 27-12, 27-14, 30-14.
Yellow cards –
Man-of-the-Match: Aside from a perfect six from six off the kicking tee, his astute line-kicking from hand made Ayr’s Frazier Climo a shoo-in for this one.
Talking Point: At one point in the second half, the game went to uncontested scrums because Heriot’s, with Struan Cessford in the sin-bin, didn’t have front-row cover. At this level, this is a disgrace, and given the way their scrum was being shunted around by the Ayr eight – it left something of a sour taste.