Edinburgh Accies 18 - 20 Ayr: Ayr get themselves out of a jam

On a day made for running rugby these two teams did not disappoint at Raeburn Place with a stunning display of attacking verve and vigour, even if the execution occasionally fell just short of the soaring ambition.

The match kicked off a little late, Ayr had been stuck in traffic, but the visitors quickly made up for any lost time.

In an opening six minutes that veered from the hectic to the frantic and back again, the ball was thrown around without a break until Ross Curle crossed the line to let everyone catch their breath.

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Ayr fielded a little too much beef and experience for Accies’ young guns to cope with although it was a close-run thing. After conceding three first-half tries, Accies looked down and out, but they rallied in the second half with two of their own and made Ayr sweat blood in the last 20 minutes as the visitors defended a two-point lead for a lot longer than was comfortable for the unbeaten league leaders.

The wily back-row trio of Callum Forrester, Andy Dunlop and Graham Fisken were a handful throughout although the slouched Hamish Watson carried relentlessly for Accies and Dan Teague was Dan Teague, which says it all. The young full-back Ruairidh Young and both Pecqueur brothers on the wings caught the eye. Out wide the Ayr quick men Gavin Lowe and Robbie Ferguson did no harm at all to their prospects of a call up to the Scotland under-20 squad with coach Sean Lineen amongst the interested spectators.

Lowe helped himself to two tries, both of them well taken even if the second was a little fortuitous, coming against the run of play and only after the ball squirted off an Accies player and fell into the winger’s grateful hands. Inside him Fergusson looked a danger whenever the ball came near and he ghosted through several tackles to set up that first score for Curle. Even when Accies threatened to steal the show Fergusson was instrumental in stemming the tide. Given the shortage of outside centres in the professional game it can’t be long before Glasgow come calling.

With Ayr leading by 17-3 just before the half Accies needed more points on the board and they duly raised an impressive head of steam. Ruairidh Bonner fluffed a simple penalty attempt and, in an intense period of pressure, the home forwards tried to bully their way across the line but Ayr are not known for being pushed around.

If the second half was a little slower than the first it was only because it could hardly be any quicker. Accies gave themselves a lifeline, albeit in peculiar circumstances with perhaps 30 minutes still to play. Lock Greg Campbell broke through the middle of a maul and the big man showed a surprising turn of pace as he made for the line. Campbell was scragged, but when the ball was shifted quickly to the right Josh Pecqueur looked to be well marshalled but Curle took the flying winger around the head.

The referee ran between the posts for a penalty try after deeming that the illegal challenge had prevented a score. Curle was shown a yellow card for the tackle and short-handed Ayr were on the back foot.

The score breathed new hope into the home team and another try five minutes later, from Sam Pecqueur again, had them looking for an unlikely victory as Diez and Bonner swapped penalties to maintain Ayr’s narrow two point advantage.

Both teams had their chances although the best of them went to Ayr after the visitors tucked the ball up their jumpers and played one out rugby. Nick Campbell and Callum Forrester were both held up over the Accies line. Nick Cox was driven backwards ten yards and that doesn’t happen to the prop very often and fullback Grant Anderson was bundled into touch a split second before he grounded the ball.

Accies had one last throw of the dice but a knock-on under pressure ended their hopes of an upset and there was more relief than triumph from the visitors at the final whistle.

Scorers: Accies: Tries: Penalty, J Pecqueur. Con: R Bonner, Pens: R Bonner 2. Ayr: Tries: Curle, Lowe, Ferguson. Con: Diez. Pen: Diez.

Pens: Name 2.

Edinburgh Accies: Young, J Pecqueur, Blair, Berthinussen, S Pecqueur, R Bonner, Black; Allan, Black, Niven, Campbell, Drennan, Teague, Watson, Reid. Subs: Liness, Murray, Findlater, Adams, E Bonner.

Ayr: Anderson, Gossman, Ferguson, Dalgleish, Lowe; Curle, Diez; Cox, Wisnewski, Hunter, White, Sutherland, Fisken, Dunlop, Forrester. Subs: Fenwick, Rae, Campbell, Doneghan, Taylor.

Referee: G Gordon.