A poor forecast caused Ayr Ladies to decamp to Marr College Playing Fields on Friday evening for their BT Premier League clash with Cartha QP Ladies.
The rain wasn't as heavy as anticipated but the near-constant drizzle and cold breeze certainly dampened spirits on the artificial pitch and the sidelines.
It was a scoreless first half hour as the two teams cancelled each other out. Cartha twice had the chance to get over the line for a try but solid defence prevented them. Flanker Kelsey Swift, captain and prop Laura Turner and fly-half Catherine Shennan led the way in defence.
Joanne Jones, playing at number eight early on with Jennifer Kerr in the second row, made a break from the back of Ayr's first scrum, with Shennan and centres Connie Griffiths and Emily Irving in support. The ball was chipped on and Cartha collected and cleared.
Ayr secured their line-out but the ball was later turned over by Cartha before they knocked on and then gave away a penalty for a high tackle on winger Erin McSorley.
Possession was changing hands as quickly as the wind was changing direction in Troon, with neither team able to breach the other's defence. Prop Louise McLauchlan, centre Catriona Cowan and flanker Rachel Morrison managed to suppress Cartha's attack, with McSorley, Griffiths and number eight Rachael Mulholland launching attacks for Ayr.
Hooker Lisa Croniken had one powerful charge at the line but couldn't quite get there. An Ayr scrum a few minutes later held firm under immense pressure from Cartha, with Mulholland breaking away. Turner, McLauchlan and second row Sonja Liekens were in support, until Croniken ran through the Cartha defenders for an excellent try out wide. Shennan couldn't make the conversion. 5-0.
It was an absorbing last ten minutes of the first half, as the teams went back and forth, this way and that, desperate to break through. Beautiful handling from Croniken and Irving got Ayr up the park.
However, Cartha were ferocious in defence, and wrestled back possession. Jones, full-back Sarah Braidwood and scrum-half Niamh Durnan put in the tackles to prevent any scores before half-time.
Cartha were energetic and enthusiastic at the resumption, running from their own half for a converted try. 5-7.
A few minutes later and they were off again, scoring between the posts. 5-14.
Ayr settled down to some hard work, giving Cartha a taste of their own medicine at the scrum, and even took it against the head.
They forced their way into Cartha's half - a superb hand-off from Mulholland just one highlight of Ayr's attack - and stayed there, determined to get another score as the rain steadily fell. Swift was at the forefront with her fellow forwards, but Cartha's defence was exemplary and they held Ayr up.
Ayr had another go from the scrum but the ball was knocked on.
Still, Ayr would not give up. Captain Turner rallied her troops, wingers McSorley and Lisa Main pressed the line, and when Cartha regained possession, player of the match Griffiths and Swift kept them in their own half with tenacious tackling.
It was a long final five minutes as Ayr searched for more points but Cartha's defence would not buckle and the visitors from Dumbreck took the win.
Ayr Ladies' next match is away to RHC Cougars on Sunday 17th September.
Final score: Ayr Ladies 5 Cartha QP Ladies 14.
- Elena Hogarth.