Ayr secured another bonus-point away win on Saturday, this time beating Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place to climb to the top of the RBS Premiership table.
The forecast had been favourable all week, but prior to kick-off, Stockbridge, that refined area of the capital, was the victim of several short but heavy downpours and it seemed the game wouldn't be the most compelling to watch. Certainly, the first fifteen minutes saw slips and drops and knocks-on.
Despite the difficult conditions, Ayr fired into the attack early on, with scrum-half Peter Jericevich and full-back Grant Anderson releasing winger Richard Dalgleish, only for Accies' defenders to bundle him into touch.
The home side were also ambitious in the opening exchanges and the likes of winger Jamie Farndale took them to within centimetres of Ayr's line. They thought they were over for a try but the visitors' sturdy defence managed to hold them up. Accies pressed on for a score moments later but couldn't get past solid tackles from flanker Andrew Dunlop and inside centre Dean Kelbrick.
Both sides were holding firm - literally on the slippery playing surface - at the scrum and Ayr perhaps had the edge in the line-out with great takes from second row Scott Sutherland and an assured first XV debut by fellow lock Benn Cogley.
However, the backs couldn't make their mark on proceedings and the game descended into a dull period of aerial ping-pong. Ayr stand-off Ross Curle and outside centre Robbie Fergusson tried to liven things up with some chips and runs, but the visitors had to rely on an infringement by Accies to get on the scoreboard when Curle kicked a penalty at sixteen minutes. 0-3.
Accies launched further attacks through Farndale and outside centre Ewan Campbell but failed to get anywhere, as did Ayr. It took barrelling prop Nick Cox to get the first try for Ayr, driving over in the corner at twenty-three minutes. Curle couldn't get the wide conversion. 0-8.
Ayr retained possession for a steady period but Accies were quick to shut down any moves from the backs and when they got their hands on the ball, showed real juggling skills not to knock-on. They had their own chance to get three points at twenty-eight minutes, but stand-off Ruairidh Bonner missed the penalty kick.
Four minutes later, Ayr's backs were finally getting some space and Fergusson skipped his way along the touch line before some nice handling from Dunlop saw Fergusson finish off the move he'd started to go over for a try. Curle missed the conversion. 0-13.
Accies dominated the rest of the half, having most of the possession. They went for another pushover try but again Ayr held them up. They then showed tremendous patience, moving the ball from one side of the pitch to the other, to finally score, winger Nyle Godsmark touching down. Bonner's conversion attempt was short. 5-13.
The home team came out for the second half with real purpose and it was their patience again that saw them score their second try at forty-four minutes, number eight Callum Reid this time going over. Bonner converted to take his side within a point of Ayr. 12-13.
Ayr kept calm and some strong running in the forwards, especially from Sutherland, Cox and prop Denford Mutamangira, got them into Accies' half. Fergusson, Kelbrick and Curle were causing trouble for the opposition, the latter especially as he lunged for Accies' line on several occasions. But the home defence held on to snuff out any try-scoring for the moment.
They couldn't contain Fergusson though, who shot over for his second and Ayr's third try of the afternoon after swift footwork and passing from winger Kerr Gossman and captain Anderson. Curle nicely slotted the conversion. 12-20.
Godsmark and Farndale proved themselves a nuisance all afternoon, and it was only a doughty defensive effort led by Ayr's replacement scrum-half Murray McConnell that prevented them from wriggling their way over the line.
The Raeburn Place side were clearly getting frustrated at their failed attempts to score and fisticuffs broke out a couple of times, but referee James Matthew quickly restored order and kept the game moving along.
Dalgleish and Kelbrick were keen to jink about but the pitch still wasn't dry enough and the backs wisely got the ball to Cox and this time it was Ayr's turn to be held up over the line. Dalgleish and replacement prop George Hunter each had a go at getting over, but Accies' defence was too strong.
With only minutes remaining and eager to get a fourth try for a bonus point, Ayr threw caution to the wind and decided to run it, substitute hooker Stuart Fenwick making two bursts up the park in quick succession. But it was winger Gossman who broke through the defence to chip ahead for Dunlop to collect and slide over the line. Jericevich took over kicking duties with Curle on the sidelines and deftly got the conversion. 12-27.
Ayr had to have the final say and it was Anderson who shrugged off the tackles in his own half to sprint all the way to the line for an excellent try. Jericevich struck a terrific kick from the touchline to add the extras at the close of play.
Final score: Edinburgh Accies 12 Ayr 34.
- Elena Hogarth.