It was a bit of a stop-start first quarter as both teams possibly got to grips with playing on the artificial pitch at Police Scotland's recreation ground, but Hawks, always desperate to get one over on their great rivals, settled down the quicker of the two and went for Ayr's try-line. Luckily for Ayr, the long limbs of flanker Callum Templeton were able to mess things up.
Both sides struggled with kicking from hand as the kickers seemed unsure of the pitch's length and more than once the ball went bouncing over the back line.
Ayr's backs finally got into gear with some deft interplay between stand-off Ross Curle and inside centre Dean Kelbrick, which seemed in inspire the forwards as, minutes later, they were making for Hawks' try-line. However, a try wasn't given, but a huge shove from Ayr in the proceeding scrum saw the ball bobbling over the line only to be touched down by a Hawks hand.
Hawks were nipping and sniping all over the place, especially scrum-half Paddy Boyer, but Ayr held firm and a break from diminutive winger Craig Gossman allowed full-back Grant Anderson to go over for the first try. Curle converted from a difficult angle. 7-0.
Ayr's tails were up and flanker Graham Fisken flew on to a lovely floated pass and swirved his way through the Hawks defence to gallop up the park and get his team into a good position for scrum-half Murray McConnell to dart over next to the posts for another try, which Curle summarily converted. 14-0.
Hawks weren't ruffled though and some steady work from former Ayr youngster Gavin Lowe and a few barrelling runs from outside centre Jack Steele got them back into the match. Steele went for a penalty kick just as the wind started to pick up but that didn't hinder his boot. 14-3.
Ayr were still the more creative, however, with Kelbrick and his centre partner Robbie Fergusson linking up nicely, Anderson on his usual marauding form and both Craig and Kerr Gossman showing a clean pair of heels. But Hawks' defence held out and Steele added another penalty before half-time. 14-6.
It wasn't long after the resumption of play that Hawks showed just how good they can be, with hooker Finlay Gillies diving over for a well-deserved try. Steele's conversion attempt wobbled away to the side of the posts. 14-11.
Kicks were still going too long and Ayr didn't help their cause with a few handling errors creeping in. Frustrations must have been getting the better of the players as a minor scuffle broke out but was quickly forgotten with Templeton tumbling his way out of tackles and looking for a break.
It was Hawks who had the bit between their teeth though, and they launched some impressive attacks, eventually leading to their second try, this time scored by Angus Hamilton. Lowe converted. 14-18.
Curle had the chance to take Ayr within one point with a penalty attempt, but with the wind swirling (Anderson was needed to hold the ball on the tee), he missed.
Ayr stuck in, with Kerr Gossman ripping the ball out of Lowe's hands and Fergusson zig-zagging his way into the opposition half and moments later Curle had another chance at goal, which he managed. 17-18.
He soon had another shot after Ayr number eight Peter McCallum was taken out of the air by Gillies, landing flat on his back with a horrible thump on the astroturf, whose abrasive surface had already ripped open knees and bruised faces. Gillies was allowed to stay on the field, but McCallum had to go off. Curle couldn't slot the penalty.
Hawks then pulled away with a try and conversion from Lowe, quickly followed by another penalty. 17-28.
Ayr don't do giving up and moments later, replacement prop Denford Mutamangira blasted his way through the flailing tackles of Hawks and shot up the wing to score a terrific try in the corner. Curle slotted the conversion. 24-28
However, Hawks had their talons in the match and simply refused to let the double opportunity of making it to the RBS Cup semi-finals and beating Ayr pass them by. They held on until they could boot the ball off the pitch at the final whistle and then gleefully celebrated a hard-fought win.
Final score: Ayr 24 Glasgow Hawks 28.
- Elena Hogarth.
All photos courtesy of Alan Watson.