Ayr secured third spot in the league on Saturday with a 17-27 away victory over Watsonians. The win means on the 24th Ayr will face Currie Chieftains at Malleny Park in the BT Premiership semi-final.
On the occasion of his 100th appearance, Craig Gossman lead the team onto the pitch at Myreside. In dreary conditions Ayr fired out of the blocks and after a minute got an opportunity for points, but Scott Lyle missed a tricky penalty kick in daunting conditions.
Horizontal rain and swirling winds plagued the contest and done its best to prevent free flowing rugby but that didn't stop Ayr from conjuring up some magic on the 6th minute for the opening try. Scott Lyle nailed a cross-field kick to Grant Anderson out wide, Anderson then played a crafty chip infield which landed in the hands of Frazier Climo. From there it was an easy run in for the score. Lyle's conversion made it 0-7.
The barrage didn't stop there. From a penalty Scott Lyle sent the ball into the corner and Jonny Agnew capitalised in the next phase. After just ten minutes Ayr lead the home side 0-14.
Watsonians weren't going to give up third place without a fight however and four minutes later a weaving run from Michael Allen carved through the defence and over the line. Ali Harris converted to scrape the deficit back to 7.
Ten minutes later Watsonians received a blow picking up two yellows in as many minutes. Lyle took advantage of the later penalty to add three onto the lead. 7-17.
Despite down to 13, the home side tightened their defence and earned a penalty with only a few minutes left in the half. Harris made no mistake making it 10-17 at the interval.
Watsonians started the second half with a full squad once again and managed to strike first. A Sean Crombie try was converted by Harris to tie it all up.
After the score James Armstrong made way for James Pinkerton, marking his 1st XV debut.
All season long Ayr have benefitted from a dominant pack at scrum time and Saturday was no different. After multiple scrum-penalties deep in Watsonians' 22 Ayr broke and charged for the line. Steven Longwell has earned a reputation for being dangerous from close range and lived up to expectation, powering over to regain the lead. Lyle added the extras to make it 17-24.
With an hour played Scott Lyle stretched the lead to more than one possession with a routine penalty kick. With 20 minutes left to play Watsonians now found themselves down ten points and losing grasp of their third spot. They looked in a good position to build an attack with ten to play but Ayr wouldn't budge. George Stokes was paramount in Ayr's defence, popping up everywhere in the defensive line.
With eight minutes left Cameron Reece made his Ayr debut, replacing try scorer Jonny Agnew.
Watsonians last real attack was once again snuffed out. A dangerous driving maul was ground to a halt by Ayr's forwards- winning a scrum and regaining possession.
Full-time: Watsonians 17-27 Ayr.
In a game where both side had to battle the elements as much as each other it was Ayr's steely resolve that showed, snatching third place with conviction.