Ayr got back to winning ways with a 24-15 win against Currie Chieftains in the BT Premiership at Malleny Park.
The visitors were calm, cool and collected from the off, the forwards bossing the early set-pieces, whilst the backs were full of controlled precision.
Second row Robert McAlpine led the charge in the loose, with centre Stafford McDowall handing off to maraud his way up the pitch. Scrum-half Harry Warr, second row Scott Sutherland and prop George Hunter - the latter two on their return after a few weeks' absence - kept the ball moving quickly until a long pass from fly-half Frazier Climo found Craig Gossman, who stepped in off his wing.
Play then switched to the other side, with Hunter in the thick of the action. His nicely timed pass was seized upon by captain Pete McCallum, who motored over for an excellent try. Winger Scott Lyle easily converted. 0-7.
The work-rate only increased from there, Gossman ready to spring onto any loose pass by Currie, McCallum and Lyle ready to spring onto any Currie attacker.
After a free kick at the scrum for Ayr, hooker Robbie Smith mowed down the home defenders and Gossman suddenly shot off like a rocket up the touchline and over the whitewash for a try. Lyle got the tricky conversion. 0-14.
Even when the Chieftains were lively with ball in hand, big tackles from Smith, McDowall and flankers Blair Macpherson and George Stokes stopped them in their tracks. They forced the turnover, and Stokes broke away. A few kicks followed, then Climo barged through the bodies with McDowall and Gossman in support. But the game came to a halt with Currie second row Hamish Bain stretchered off, injured.
Currie had a penalty line-out but the throw went too far, and although they got the scrum when Ayr knocked on, they were pinged and later gave away another for not rolling away. It was in a good position for Lyle and he summarily got the three points. 0-17.
Lyle was back at the tee moments later after his brilliant catch and run got Ayr back into the Chieftains' half; centre Danny McCluskey deftly popped the ball to McCallum and the captain got his brace. Lyle converted. 0-24.
Currie had a chance to get on the board just before half-time but the penalty kick by fly-half Jamie Forbes was missed.
Ayr carried on harrying and harassing the home team at the start of the second half, Climo and McCallum the thorns in their side. McCallum dotted the ball down over the line but the teams were called back for a knock-on.
Currie then felt the full force of the Ayr pack, as they were bullied off the ball at the scrum. McCallum, McDowall, Smith, McCluskey and Hunter swept through the home defence but the ball was knocked on before they could get to the try-line.
Glasgow Warriors' Brandom Thomson made his Ayr debut, replacing full-back Grant Anderson. Sutherland soon followed Anderson to the sidelines, but for ten minutes in the sin bin after a prolonged discussion between the refereeing team. Although it seemed Warr had been tackled high, it was his team-mate Sutherland who got the yellow card for an earlier unknown infringement.
From the penalty line-out, Ayr turned over and Warr cleared. But Currie took that line-out quickly and winger Ben Robbins scurried away for a try. The conversion angle was too wide for Forbes. 5-24.
Currie began to get a hold on the game and would have been headed for the try-line again were it not for a superb flying tackle by Stokes, with excellent follow-up defence by Climo and Macpherson.
Lyle had a final kick at goal, but missed this time.
Still, it looked like Ayr might get that bonus-point fourth try, Climo and Thomson combining nicely to move play out of their own half. A couple of handling errors put paid to any such hopes.
Smith and McDowall took a well-earned rest, and were replaced by the equally energetic youngsters Lewis Anderson and Paddy Dewhirst. Soon after, Michael Badenhorst replaced Sutherland, who had returned from the sin bin for a few minutes.
Badenhorst was straight into action with some hefty tackles, as was Gossman, but Currie's backs had a spring in their step, and no sooner had slippery centre Harvey Elms seemingly been halted than he was away for a try. Forbes missed the conversion. 10-24.
The home fly-half burst through the Ayr defence for a fine try under the posts but he inexplicably missed the kick for the extras right in front of the sticks. 15-24.
A hefty tackle on Gossman left the diminutive winger splayed on the turf, but he was able to get to his feet and thankfully walk unaided to the sidelines, meaning McDowall was back on for the last few minutes.
Both teams searched for one last try but neither could find it.
Final score: Currie Chieftains 15 Ayr 24.
In the 2nd XV match, James Armstrong scored a try for Ayr, converted by Matt Davidson, who also kicked four penalties. But Chieftains A came roaring back in the second half, and it was 19-19 at full-time. Sam Graham was Ayr's man of the match.
- Elena Hogarth.