Ayr never reached the heights they did in beating Hawks in both league games this season – but they were still far too good for their visitors as they cruised into the final of the BT Scottish Cup, and another head-to-head with Melrose, in this one-sided semi-final at Millbrae.
One simple fact tells the story of the game – it wasn’t until the 40th minute that Hawks got into the home 22. That attack foundered on Ayr’s superb scramble defence and, trailing 18-0 at the break, the game was already over for the Glasgow side.
Ayr took six minutes to open their account. Grant Anderson’s grubber and Craig Gossman’s follow-up pressure had Ayr camped on the visitors’ line. After four breenges by the pack, Frazier Climo punted a perfect cross-kick into the arms of Danny McCluskey for the opening try, which Climo converted.
The Kiwi stand-off, on his way to the man-of-the-match award, then goaled two penalties before, six minutes from the break, Ayr moved the ball wide and full-back Grant Anderson was left with a walk-in try against an over narrow defence.
Hawks finally put points on the board in 44 minutes, when Josh Henderson goaled a 38-metre penalty, but Ayr hit back, taking play to the Hawks 22, where offside allowed Climo to goal his third penalty. He saved his best for last, however, running a mazy line through the Hawks defence for a try, after McCluskey had run a superb line off a line-out move to take play deep into the visitors’ 22. Climo converted to take his tally to 18 points in the match.
But Hawks never stopped trying and when home hooker David Young brought down an advancing Hawks maul, he collected a yellow card and Henderson converted the penalty try.
Ayr killed Hawks’ one-man advantage. We then had a spell of 14-a-side after Hawks’ Tommy Spinks, who announced this week he will join Ayr next season – but still gave Hawks everything – was yellow carded and the game ended with Hawks on the attack, but again finding the Ayr defence too good for them.
If Climo was the Ayr man-of-the-match, the most-entertaining player on the field was Hawks’ Kerr Gossman. He always tried to make things happen, even if, every time he got clear, elder brother Craig was there to stop him.
The sides have it all to do again next week in the Premiership Play-Off semi-finals. This, as both coaches agreed, will be a totally different game.
“We showed Ayr nothing today, we are still a secret to them,” said Hawks’ Fin Gillies.
“We didn’t follow the script but we still created chances, so we have a chance next week – even if that chance is the Last Chance Saloon for us,” he added.
Ayr’s Calum Forrester said: “We were disciplined, everything went our way and, if we prepare again properly, I am looking for another win next week.
“But, next week’s game will be totally different. We may have beaten them three times this season, and we will want to make it four from four, which will be a great achievement.”