It was a mature performance from Ayr that saw them beat undefeated league leaders Heriot's at Goldenacre and top the BT Premiership.
The visitors gave away a few early penalties, one within range of the posts which Heriot's scrum-half Graham Wilson easily kicked. 3-0.
Winger Haddon McPherson, fly-half Frazier Climo and flanker Blair Macpherson shifted play into Heriot's half long enough to get a chance at goal when the home team strayed off-side. Climo missed the kick though.
Prop Steven Longwell went on the charge and captain Ross Curle made metres, but Ayr were later off their feet at a ruck. Another penalty quickly followed and was kicked by Wilson. 6-0.
Moments later though and Heriot's were in danger and as they tried to clear their lines, winger Cameron Taylor charged down the kick and chased the ball over the line to ground it for the first try. Climo converted. 6-7.
Ayr couldn't cope with Heriot's strength at the scrum, giving away a penalty that again saw them end up back in their own half. A good line-out by Heriot's released speedy full-back Charles Simpson and he blasted his way to the line. He couldn't make it through the Ayr defence at one side, and neither could second row Roan van Heerden, but his team stayed patient to send him over at the other side. Wilson got the tricky conversion. 13-7.
Ayr were still making mistakes and showing moments of indecision, but the difference this week was the reaction. When scrum-half Ali Price's kick was blocked, Longwell was on hand to scoop up the ball, which led to a brilliant break by Macpherson. Price was on his shoulder and took the pass well to fly under the posts for the try. Climo got the extras. 13-14.
There were further set-piece wobbles for Ayr, but handling errors by Heriot's meant they couldn't capitalise. Ayr had a scrum in front of their own posts but were steady despite a huge shove by the hosts, and number eight Pete McCallum put his foot on the gas to charge forty metres. Centre Danny McCluskey was in support and Curle chipped ahead. Heriot's got there first but knocked on.
Heriot's were pinged for not releasing moments later and Climo booted over the penalty. 13-17.
Another break by McCallum and a beauty of a pass to McCluskey got Ayr back into Heriot's half but the ball went forward in the tackle.
Despite the overall high quality of play, the match was briefly afflicted by some horrible kicking from both teams before Ayr decided to keep ball in hand and barge their way up the pitch. Longwell was tackled without the ball and some back-chat from Heriot's saw them marched back ten metres.
Ayr took the line-out but knocked on and were then penalised at the scrum. A Heriot's line-out on Ayr's five-metre line let winger Harry Boisseau sneak over in the corner and Wilson again got the conversion from a devilish angle. 20-17.
The second half began with Richard Dalgleish replacing Climo and Graham Fisken and George Hunter on for Will Bordill and Javan Sebastian respectively, all of whom had put in a tough shift.
Heriot's captain Jack Turley made an exciting break and Simpson again scythed his way into Ayr's twenty-two. Ayr turned over before Heriot's turned over and then knocked on, but they took the scrum against the head and attempted a drop goal which drifted wide.
Again, as the line-out went awry, Ayr didn't panic. Errors from Heriot's helped their cause, but some strong running from McPherson, Longwell and hooker James Malcolm got them out of their own half. They settled at the line-out, with second rows Scott Sutherland and Robert McAlpine anchoring their team as they so often do. McCallum made for the line, looking for his sixth try in six matches, but couldn't quite make it.
Ayr pressed on after a scum and a line-out and it was Longwell who burrowed over. Curle took over kicking duty and got the conversion. 20-24.
There was a breathless period of play that saw Ayr gain and lose possession several times. Simpson slipped through tackles to get the crowd on their feet and passed to number eight Jason Hill who charged off. But Price did well to track him down, haul him to the ground, grab the ball and chip and chase. The ball bobbled out but Heriot's dropped it at the ensuing line-out and Macpherson pounced for the bonus-point try. Curle missed the conversion. 20-29.
It got a bit messy as Ayr were desperate to build on their lead and Heriot's were determined to get more points on the board. McPherson was wriggling out of tackles, Curle chasing down kicks and Macpherson doing forward rolls but they knocked on before they could get to the try-line.
Hill and flanker Struan Dewar showed great hands to get Heriot's going and a drive from a line-out let second row Russell Nimmo score a try. Wilson couldn't get this conversion though. 25-29.
Ayr's restart wasn't ten metres but they coped at the scrum on half-way and turned over. Heriot's regained possession but were pinged for holding on and this allowed Ayr to hunker down for a sustained period of pick-and-go.
The stutters at the set pieces returned for Ayr but again they remained calm. Simpson shot off but Dalgleish appeared out of nowhere to drag him down and force a knock-on.
It was a tense final minute as Heriot's tried their best to turnover. But Ayr stayed cool and collected under pressure and booted the ball off the park for a hard-fought win.
Ayr lead the BT Premiership by just a point, but with Heriot's and Boroughmuir having a game in hand and Melrose lying in second, it's going to be a battle for supremacy.
Final score: Heriot's 25 Ayr 29.
- Elena Hogarth.