AYR’S wonderful defensive effort carried the day in a terrific top-of-the-table RBS Premiership clash, which fully lived up to the pre-game hype. Their effort took them back above Gala at the top of the table and, on this display, they will be hard to dislodge.
Fair play to Gala, though, who went down with all colours flying. Indeed, in terms of territory and possession, they had the better of the game but they struggled to get past Ayr’s phenomenal defensive effort.
The visitors dominated the first quarter, in which Ayr didn’t help themselves by repeatedly falling foul of referee Neil Paterson. Midway through the quarter, Ayr had conceded as many penalties as there had been minutes played. And Gala struck first on 17 minutes. The home pack was under pressure 30 metres from their line, George Graham pirated the ball at the base of the home scrum, brother Gary linked and Euan Dods blasted over for the try, converted by Lee Millar.
Ayr struck back quickly and, in a spell of great continuity, they created space for Craig Gossman to go in for a try, converted by Fin Russell.
Three minutes later, they took the lead. A penalty was kicked deep into the Gala 22 and after the forwards had produced go-forward ball with three immense shunts, Pete Jerecevich nipped through a gap in the Gala defensive line for an unconverted try.
Gossman later got over in the corner, but the try was disallowed for a knock-on.
The visitors were inches from equality in their opening flourish of the second half when Alan Emond was hauled down right on the home line, didn’t release and Ayr cleared.
The next 25 minutes were hammer and tongs. Scott Sutherland of Ayr and Gala’s Gary Graham spent spells in the sin bin and, in 67 minutes, just five minutes after being allowed back into the game, Sutherland crashed over for Ayr’s third try after a prolonged spell which the home side spent camped on the Gala line. Russell converted and suddenly, Gala had a mountain to climb.
They certainly had a go, dominating the remainder of the game but everything they tried perished on the rock of Ayr’s sensational defence until, two minutes from time, Gala’s forward power drove the Ayr pack over their own line, Dods claimed his second try, Millar converted, but it was too little, too late.