Mud is a great leveller, and by the end of yesterday's RBS West Regional Cup encounter at Millbrae, everyone had been brought down to size by the boggy conditions. Luckily, Ayr managed to lift themselves in time to beat a dogged and steady Hillhead/Jordanhill.
Despite being a league below, Hills were the dominant side for the first quarter. A huge shower meer minutes before kick-off delayed proceedings and turned the Millbrae pitch into a mire, and it was the visitors who coped better with the weather. They kept the ball in hand for the most part, but with such appalling conditions to battle, there were bound to be numerous knocks-on.
Ayr attempted to be more adventurous, but nothing came from the likes of full back Grant Anderson and winger Cammy Taylor trying to create attacking opportunities.
Hills got on the scoreboard first, with Andy Leslie easily slotting a penalty at 16 minutes. 0-3.
There were fumbles galour, and Anderson, usually such a safe pair of hands, got caught out right on Ayr's line. Former Ayr man Blair Macpherson - one of several former players turning out for Hills - was there to gather it up, only to drop it before he could do any damage.
AJ Macfarlane, another past Ayr favourite, enjoyed causing havoc at his old stomping ground, and was helped along by his flustered former team-mates. Nearing thirty minutes on the clock, scrum-half Peter Jericevich's kick went out on the full, but the mistake was eventually turned to Ayr's favour as they worked their way down the park to Hills' line. After many messy attempts, prop Byron Schmidt - on his first XV debut - rumbled over for a try. Fly-half Finn Russell converted. 7-3.
Jericevich's bad luck continued, with a clearance kick charged down, but the visitors couldn't gather, as the ball continued to slip about like a bar of soap. Minutes later, however, they shot off up the wing and Ayr's blushes were saved by an excellent tackle from Taylor.
Every mistake possible was made by both sides, including a pass from Hills that the Millbrae faithful was determined was forward. But Ayr's hooker Hayden Wisnewski didn't let a little thing like the rain put him off his game, and sniffing out an interception, took off down the wing in a sprint that would have put the Gossman brothers to shame. He was unfortunately pulled into touch before he could make the try line.
Hills had another shot at a penalty kick before half-time but Leslie couldn't get the three points.
A change of shirt for the second half didn't help Ayr, with Peter McCallum getting yellow carded at forty-three minutes for reasons unknown.
Jericevich redeemed himself with a try-saving intervention early on, but nobody could stop Leslie as he snatched Hills' only try at forty-nine minutes. He couldn't convert though. 7-8.
The next fifteen minutes were fruitless, until Ayr got a penalty and took a line-out, managing to get themselves into a decent position. From the base of a solid scrum, man-of-the-match Graham Fisken plunged over the line for Ayr's second try. Russell added the extras. 14-8.
Ayr stayed put in Hills' half for the rest of the match, and fought hard to grab another try at 71 minutes, centre Robbie Fergusson charging over, despite the close attentions of Hills replacement Joe Stafford. Russell couldn't manage the touchline conversion to make the final score 19-8.
- Elena Hogarth