Heriot’s 20-19 Ayr

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AYR’S hopes of defending their RBS Premiership title suffered a second dent with defeat by a Heriot’s side that showed confidence and resilience in stopping the Millbrae side, writes Alan Lorimer at Goldenacre.

In what fell short of being an entertaining match, both sides made numerous errors limiting running rugby. Heriot’s coach Phil Smith admitted: “The game just didn’t flow. It lacked rhythm”

All the same, Smith was delighted with his side’s victory. “We didn’t beat Gala or Ayr last season and we’ve beaten both of them already” he said.

Ayr were handicapped by yellow cards for centre Dean Kelbrick and Craig Gossman and perhaps the decision to delay the deployment of Finn Russell until half-time. Once Russell did come on Ayr’s game changed for the better, the former Scotland under-20 cap able to open the game with his long and accurate passing.

Heriot’s signalled their intentions in the first half to lead 10-5 at the break from a penalty by scrum-half Graham Wilson and his conversion of a try by the impressive Cammy Ferguson. Ayr’s points had come from a driven line-out that delivered with simplicity a try for hooker Fergus Scott.

The Goldenacre side’s domination of territory and possession in the third quarter should have brought greater dividends but they had to wait until Craig Gossman had late tackled James Fleming before collecting three more points from Wilson’s boot.

Ayr, despite being down to 14 men, hit back, Russell combining with Robbie Fergusson in a move that ended with Kerr Gossman skipping over for a try. Russell converted but slick handling between Cammy Ferguson and lock Murray Douglas put Fleming in for a fine try, Wilson’s conversion giving Heriot’s a 20-12 lead.

In a final effort, a well-placed grubber kick by Russell gave
Fergusson a try, Russell’s conversion leaving Ayr defeated by a single but a crucial point.