Ayr may have been league leaders before this match kicked off but little good it did them yesterday afternoon at Meggetland where they lost their first match of the season. The home team gave their illustrious visitors a lesson in accurate, high tempo, off-loading rugby and Ayr couldn’t comprehend let alone cope with it.
The visitors held almost all the high cards and out-muscled their hosts across the field but Muir, by necessity as much as anything, played with pace, running the ball from all corners of the field and catching Ayr cold. The three tries and four points were no less than their adventure and ambition deserved.
Muir did enough to suggest that they can be competitive in the BT Premiership at least as long as the weather stays warm and Edinburgh offer them the use of breakaway Jamie Richie. The professional flanker put in a huge shift for the home team, carrying tirelessly and showing unexpected offloading skills.
The Muir backs were slick and adventurous and they combined, along with Richie, to score the best try of this match, a length-of-the-field effort in the first half. Just about everyone got their hands on the ball as Muir attacked left and then right with loosehead prop Ross Dunbar scooping up the loose ball and sprinting behind the posts.
For the visitors scrum-half David Armstong ran well and posed problems with the ball in hand but Ayr’s backs were a little sloppy especially in the first half when their wingers fluffed scoring chances. Cammy Taylor was bundled into touch five yards out and Craig Gossman spilled a scoring pass on the opposite flank just a few minutes later.
Muir’s four point lead at the break became an 11-point lead just a few short minutes into the second half. The Ayr defence parted like the Red Sea for Muir’s number eight and skipper Craig Keddie who looked like he might go all the way only to be dragged down short of the line. So it was left to lock Jamie Scott to barrel over from short range after a simple pick and drive, Laidlaw converting expertly. Trailing by 17-6 it suddenly dawned on Ayr that they were in danger of losing this one and the men in pink duly adopted their best game face. Frasier Climo kicked a penalty into the corner and Armstrong thought he had scored after a clever lineout ploy only for the match officials to spot a foot in touch.
It wasn’t until Scott was sent to the sin bin that Ayr’s big pack began to press their foot firmly on Muir’s throat. One lineout drive was held up before a set scrum marched their way over the line for number eight Blair MacPherson to score one of the easier tries of his career.
Just as it looked like Ayr might come off the canvas, Muir scored their third try of the afternoon. It was sparked by winger Jordan Edmunds who made far more metres than he should have up the middle of the park. Muir battered away at the Ayr line until eventually Keddie squeezed over by the posts and Laidlaw was never going to miss.
To add injury to insult Ayr’s flanker Gregor Henry left the field on a stretcher in the closing minutes to top off a forgettable afternoon for the visitors.