Ayr were were beaten by an Edinburgh Accies side desperately fighting for their BT Premiership existance yesterday at a horribly cold and snowy Raeburn Place.
The weather was calm as things kicked off, but the home team were all het up, getting the early turnover and applying pressure in Ayr's half. But with barely a minute on the clock, the hosts knocked on, setting the tone for the afternoon. The match may have had the drama, but it didn't have the quality as handling errors from both teams plagued proceedings.
A barrelling run from prop Fraser Watt was Ayr's first attacking attempt and an infringement at the scrum by Accies let the visitors kick for the corner and launch a proper assault from the line-out. Alas, they were pinged for holding on.
The snow began to fall steadily and there were a few gusts of wind, shaking Accies' old rickety stand, which thankfully stayed rooted to that historic turf and didn't take off over Stockbridge.
Accies displayed some solid line-outs, but as the snowfall increased and hands numbed, nobody could hold on to the ball. The first points came from an infringement at the scrum by Ayr and Accies' winger Callum Ramm stepped up to the tee. 3-0.
A few minutes later and the tables were turned, with the referee penalising the home side at the scrum and Ayr's stand-off Ross Curle kicking the three points. 3-3.
Accies managed to string together some attacking play but were stopped in their tracks by Ayr captain Dean Kelbrick, flanker Callum Templeton and second row Rob McAlpine. They were soon off-side though.
However, the visitors snaffled the ball moments after a decent Accies line-out and centre Robbie Fergusson shot off with scrum-half David Armstrong and full-back Grant Anderson in support. The ball came back to Fergusson who chipped ahead in Accies' twenty-two only for home full-back Ruairidh Young to save his team's blushes.
Fergusson again tried to breach the strong Accies' defence, with second row Scott Sutherland having a go too but there was no way through.
Ayr had a few line-outs but could launch nothing from them and both teams traded some ineffectual kicks as the snow almost got to blizzard level. McAlpine, Armstrong, prop George Hunter and Glasgow Warrior Dougie Hall all had a go with ball in hand to no avail.
Another penalty against Ayr saw Accies kick for the corner only for Armstrong to balletically leap into the air and keep the ball in play and clear. Accies' line-out at half-way let number eight Ronan Seydak trundle off on a promising-looking break but again, nothing came of it.
More penalties, line-outs and knocks on occured before the referee signalled half-time.
Ayr began the second half with real impetus, number eight Blair Macpherson, winger Craig Gossman, Fergusson, Curle and Watt making ground. It looked like Sutherland had fought his way over for a try only for the doughty home defence to hold him up.
Moments later and Macpherson and Armstrong pushed for the line but got nowhere. It was McAlpine who finally threw himself over for the try. Curle missed the conversion in the swirling snowstorm. 3-8.
Things went downhill for Ayr after that one bright moment, with Curle sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle after initially having received just a ticking off from the referee. The touch judge intervened though and Curle was called back to be dismissed for ten minutes. Ramm easily got the penalty. 6-8.
More knocks-on ensued before Ayr's respective replacement back row and prop Graham Fisken and Stuart Fenwick livened things up and Fergusson showed some deft handling in the raw conditions.
But it was a mess and Ayr were outmuscled at the scrum, allowing Young to scramble over in the corner for a try. Ramm's conversion was short. 11-8.
Ayr tried to regain the upper hand - if they ever had it at all - with Armstrong superbly springing up for a high ball and launching his backs into attack, but they chucked the ball into touch, much to the amusement of the small yet vociferous Raeburn Place crowd.
The sides traded line-outs and scrums and kicks that went nowhere in the falling snow until the clock ran down and Accies gleefully booted the ball off the pitch and celebrated their vital win. They live to fight another day and Ayr will be glad to get back to the home comforts of Millbrae next week.
Final score: Edinburgh Accies 11 Ayr 8.
- Elena Hogarth.