The outcome was in the balance right up to the end but it was Heriot’s who edged over the finishing line with a late penalty try to remain in fifth place, while results elsewhere dragged Ayr down to third.
Heriot’s coach Phil Smith, pictured, said: “We left it late but these are the kind of games this season we haven’t won when our composure has gone but we held it this time and didn’t do stupid things. We didn’t play brilliantly but we played well enough. I felt we were deserving winners.”
Ayr coach Callum Forrester said: “We just weren’t accurate enough when we had opportunities. We were in there too many times to come away with nothing. They were horrible conditions to play in but we put ourselves in position to win the game but a couple of stupid penalties in the middle of the pitch cost us dearly. It wasn’t the penalty try, it was the build-up to it.”
Heriot’s opened the scoring when full-back Ross Jones kicked a simple penalty. Ayr stand-off Scott Lyle landed one to square before Jones kicked his second from directly in front of the posts. Otherwise, the story of the first half in difficult blustery conditions was a game stuttering along full of handling errors, wayward passes and pointless kicks. Neither team could get beyond a couple of phases before moves broke down,
The forward packs were well matched. Every scrum seemed to have to be reset at least three times. Over the full 80 minutes there was no clear winner in the struggle for dominance, although Ayr were very wasteful with their lineout throwing
It was 6-3 at half-time and anybody’s game but Heriot’s came back out the more determined side. A 40-metre penalty attempt by Jones was blown off course before a sudden linebreak by flanker Iain Wilson took him to within five metres as winger Craig Gossman tracked back to hunt him down. The offload to his skipper Jack Turley as he hit the ground was perfectly timed but judged forward, probably wind assisted.
Ayr took advantage of the let-off to fight their way into the opposition 22 and control the ball until it could go wide and create enough space for Gossman to go over in the corner. Lyle defied the wind to kick the conversion from the touchline.
This was the stage when Heriot’s needed to retain their composure and they did. The ball was carried into the Ayr 22. A lineout was won and a maul rolled towards the line until it was collapsed and the referee had no hesitation in running round behind the posts.
The seven points pushed Heriot’s into a narrow lead that they protected for the final, frantic few minutes.