It was a try-fest at a sunny Millbrae yesterday, as Ayr crossed the whitewash seven times to beat Hawick 48-10.
The match started at a canter - literally, with Ayr flanker Graham Fisken charging about in attack and defence. Hawick had an early penalty but full-back Neil Renwick missed his kick at the posts.
Fisken was on the move again, running almost half the pitch to get Ayr within scoring distance. However, Hawick's defence was doughty and home stand-off Ross Curle had to put in a lovely cross-kick to enable wing Craig Gossman to collect and score. Curle converted. 7-0.
A few minutes later, Ayr were again on the wrong side of the law and Hawick had another shot at goal, which Renwick got this time. 7-3.
It wasn't long before Fisken was superbly taking the ball out of the air to release full-back and captain Grant Anderson. Despite the dry, bright day in Alloway, the pitch was a little greasy, and Gossman, taking the pass from Anderson, slipped near the line, although he was able to offload to flanker Andrew Dunlop, who unfortunately knocked on.
Ayr struggled in the line-out during the first half but Hawick couldn't make any ground with ball in hand and gave away a penalty in a kickable position at twenty minutes, which Curle summarily booted between the posts. 10-3.
Fisken was on fine form, swatting away Scotland international Nikki Walker like a midgie, before barrelling onward. There was a great sigh of disappointment from the crowd when the flanker had to hobble off at the end of the first quarter.
There were several knocks-on from both sides, but Anderson, after a quick break, made a neat flicked pass to inside centre Robbie Fergusson, who flew over for a try at thirty-one minutes. Curle very quickly converted. 17-3.
Two minutes later, Curle shot off in a bizarre diagonal run, confusing the crowd and the Hawick defence, that culminated in him dotting the ball down in the corner for Ayr's third try. Unsurprisingly, he couldn't convert from such a tight angle. 22-3.
There were more slips and slides from Ayr, as well as nifty running from Kerr Gossman and a big drive from the forwards for the line. Hawick were getting stroppy, particularly Bruce McNeill, arguably their most dangerous player in the first half. The hirsuit second row found himself in the sin bin at the end of the first half. Curle had a penalty chance but just missed.
There was no respite for Hawick, and a minute into the second half, Dunlop charged over the line for try number four. Curle grabbed the extras. 29-3.
Play continued in a frenetic fashion for the next few minutes, with Hawick number eight Keith Davies suddenly appearing on the wing alongside Craig Gossman to chase down a kick, and he very nearly beat him to it.
If that display pepped up Hawick, their positivity was quickly snuffed out by strong running from Fergusson and number eight Callum Templeton and a try at forty-nine minutes from Anderson. Curle's missed conversion made the score 34-3.
Four minutes later, Anderson was like a bullet out of a gun again, shooting nearly fifty metres before sliding over the line. A short discussion was had between the referee and touch judge before the try was awarded. Curle was on target with the conversion. 41-3.
Hawick gritted their teeth and worked hard to regain possession. Ayr outside centre Richard Dalgleish put in some excellent tackles but the visitors wouldn't be denied. Wing Steven Anderson eventually went over in the corner and Renwick converted. 41-10.
Although there was some lively play from replacements Murray McConnell, Glasgow Warriors' Ed Kalman and Cammy Taylor, the game couldn't maintain its speed in the final quarter. Ayr settled down at the line-out, with assured throwing from substitute hooker Fergus Scott and some poaching from Dunlop, and put Hawick under pressure at the scrum.
The home side were keen to finish with a flourish but it was more of a fumble as the ball bobbled over the line before Craig Gossman managed to dive on it for the final try. With man-of-the-match Curle substituted, scrum-half Peter Jericevich took over kicking duties and successfully slotted the conversion. 48-10.
Ayr camped out in Hawick's half for the next few minutes until the referee blew the whistle for full time. The seven tries were a treat for home fans and will provide confidence before Ayr travel to the Channel Islands next week for their first British and Irish Cup match against Jersey.
Final score: Ayr 48 Hawick 10.