Ayr made amends for last week’s BT Cup quarter-final loss at Mansfield Park with this bonus-point BT Premiership win in the glaur of Millbrae – the victory taking them closer to a place in the play-off semi-finals next month.
In truth, they had the game won by half-time, as they took advantage of Hawick indiscipline to score four unanswered tries as the Greens saw men in the sin bin. Then, when Ayr started to get on the wrong side of referee David Sutherland and found themselves short-handed, the visitors hit back, but superb home defence kept them out of reach before the champions closed out the game.
Ayr struck first, hooker Lewis Anderson surging over following great spade work by Scott Lyle, Craig Gossman and Steven Longwell. Lyle converted.
Hawick came back without really threatening and, midway through the half, Ayr went further in front when a surging maul took their pack from outside the Hawick 22 to the line.
The ball was then spun wide and Grant Anderson went over, with Lyle again converting.
Hawick’s Dom Buckley was yellow-carded for his effort to stop Anderson and when, from the restart, David Armstrong strolled in untouched for a third Ayr try, Bruce McNeill was also sent to the sin bin.
Ayr were rampant now and James Armstrong sprinted home from 30 metres for an unconverted bonus-point try, but Hawick found another gear when back to full strength and Dalton Redpath opened their account right on half-time with a try, converted by Lee Armstrong.
Ayr’s Rob McAlpine was yellow-carded for an offence in the build-up to the Hawick try and, within four minutes of the second half resuming, he was joined on the naughty step by Scott Lyle, for a tip tackle.
Dalton Redpath scored a second try for the visitors as they made their two-man advantage count, Lee Armstrong again converting. Then, with Ayr going through a bit of a crisis going into the final quarter, the indefatiguabe McNeill barged over for an unconverted try, and, only seven points ahead, Ayr suddenly looked fragile.
But they rallied and, with the clock ticking down, they made the game safe when, off line-out ball, Robin Hislop and Blair Macpherson blasted the hard yards on the peel, for Tommy Spinks to score his first Millbrae try, which Lyle converted to seal the victory for the home side.
A fitting way for departing Ayr head coach Calum Forrester and retiring players George Hunter and Scott Sutherland – who were awarded the joint Man of the Match accolade – to say their farewells to the Alloway ground.