Heriot’s needed a late penalty try to stay in contention for a Premiership play-off place but ultimately they were deserving winners over stubborn Ayr.
The teams squared up to each other with Heriot’s on the slide and hovering just below the play-off places while Ayr were riding high on a winning streak that has seen them rise to second in the table.
The home team knew that, if they were to lose, their season would be likely to end with a whimper but they persisted when all looked lost and got the luck they deserved to claim victory.
The wind-spoiled game had a slow, scrappy start and it was Heriot’s who almost scored in the early stages, held up over the line after a short range pick and go.
But Heriot’s did come away with three points after full back Ross Jones, pictured, kicked an easy penalty, answered by fly-half Scott Lyle’s 25-metre attempt minutes later, just before Jones kicked his second from in front of the posts.
The game stuttered along with little cohesion with the wind more of a hindrance than a help for both sides.
A sudden injection of energy from Ayr got them a lineout deep in the Heriot’s 22 but they made a mess of the throw and the danger passed, if only briefly. From the same field position Ayr went for a scrum but there was no clear winner in the struggle between the packs and, after two resets, Heriot’s won the penalty and were able to clear.
A five metre lineout was the next platform Ayr created but the throw went to a Heriot’s hand, the third time in a row possession was nicked from them, and momentum was killed again.
The second half got under way with the wind at Heriot’s backs. A 40-metre penalty attempt by Jones was blown off course before a linebreak by flanker Iain Wilson took him to within five metres before winger Craig Gossman hunted him down. The offload to his skipper Jack Turley for the touch down behind the posts was ruled forward.
Heriot’s kept up the pressure but it was Ayr who were more effective in carving out territory and when they got into the opposition 22 they made an untidy supply of ball count with Gossman crossing in the corner for the try. Lyle banged over the conversion.
Ayr tighthead Steve Longwell rampaged up the right to reach the 22 and further unsettle Heriot’s but the home side worked their way to the other end of the pitch to earn a penalty try when a lineout maul was pulled down and replacement back row Jonathan Agnew was sent to the sin bin.
Heriot’s winger Charlie Simpson followed him to the sidelines as Ayr battled to the end but in vain.