A FIRST-HALF performance featuring three outstanding tries had Phil Smith, the coach of new BT Premiership table toppers Heriot’s beaming.
“That was absolutely outstanding,” he said in the wake of an impressive victory. “The scores were tremendous – as good as you will see at any level of the game.
“That first half was what we needed to do. It’s easy to say we are disappointed at not taking a bonus point when you are 22-0 up at half-time but remember Ayr were above us at the start of the day.”
That was not evident in the opening 40 minutes as the home side turned on the style to such effect that Ayr were denied sufficient possession to mount any sustained pressure on the hosts. They were less composed with ball in hand and guilty of a higher error count than their opponents.
Even a pack featuring British & Irish Lion Ryan Grant and later bolstered by the introduction of his fellow international Jon Welsh found the going tough at times – Heriot’s had stated their intent with a strike against the head in the first set piece of the day.
That said, the Heriot’s mistakes were so rare in a sparkling display of slick handling that few if any teams in the league could have lived with them. All three first-half tries came on the end of moves that were executed at pace.
The first ended with Glenn Bryce bursting through two tackles to dot down, the second featured Bryce combining with Jason Hill to free Charlie Simpson for the score, and the third saw the home side stretch the defence before the ball was popped up for Jack McLean to power over.
Graham Wilson added the other points with two conversions and a penalty to leave Heriot’s firmly in control. A strong opening to the second half suggested that the bonus point try was inevitable but a solid effort by the Ayr defence restricted the scoring to another penalty from Wilson.
To their credit, Ayr threw everything at the hosts in the final stages. Key to their strong finish was the gutsy contribution of Ross Curle who was rewarded for his persistence with a late self-converted try.
“We maybe didn’t create as much in the second half,” admitted Smith who was not too despondent at missing out on a fourth try. “We just didn’t get into that area to get the score. That would have been the icing.”
Scorers: Heriot’s – Tries: Bryce, Simpson, McLean. Cons: Wilson (2). Pens: Wilson (2). Ayr – Try: Curle. Con: Curle.
Heriot’s: G Bryce; C Simpson, L Steele, M Learmonth, H Boisseau; G McNeish, G Wilson; N Borel, D McGregor, S Cessford, J Turley, B Toolis, J Armstrong, J McLean, J Hill. Subs: B Cooper, G Cameron, J Nayacavou, S Edwards, K Buchan.
Ayr: R Fergusson; R Dalgleish, R Curle, D Kelbrick, K Gossman; D McLuskey, M McConnell; R Grant, J Malcolm, S Fenwick, C Templeton, S Sutherland, G Fisken, B Johnston, B Macpherson. Subs: G Hunter, J Welsh, W Bordill, D Armstrong, C Gossman.
Referee: S Gore-White.