League leaders Ayr lost in a dramatic finale that saw a never-say-die Watsonians beat the odds and grab a last-minute score that ended a demoralising run of three defeats in a row.
Last time Ayr travelled east to Edinburgh they crashed to their only defeat of the season against Boroughmuir and recent history repeated itself.
The chance of an upset was tantalisingly close all afternoon, but Ayr looked to have done enough before the climax closed out this particular tale of persistence and self belief.
Watsonians simply refused to be subdued as they ran themselves into the ground. At the end it seemed the best they could do was ensure a losing bonus point but, when the opportunity presented itself for the win, they seized it enthusiastically.
Watsonians started the brighter and even thought they had scored in the first few minutes when full-back Max McFarland went over the try line only to be called back for a forward pass in the move that had cut open the visitor’s defence. Keith Young would do much the same thing 80 minutes later and there would be no forward pass.
Ayr heeded the warning. They carried the ball to safety beyond the halfway line but, when they lost it, Watsonians immediately came surging back and, having lived dangerously when the ball was almost intercepted, scrum-half Reiss Cullen broke from behind his own 10 metre line. Hooker Sean Crombie took it on, then flanker Angus Duckett who off-loaded to centre DJ Innes for the try.
Straight from the restart it was Cullen again who made the break, slipping through the tackles in midfield and creating the space for Duckett to touch down in the corner. Both conversion attempts by Andrew Chalmers drifted wide but he was spot on with a 24-metre penalty to stretch his team’s lead.
But Ayr hit back with Craig Gossman gaining ground on the left wing before the ball crossed the pitch and centre Archie Russell gave the scoring pass to right winger Richard Dalgleish for the try. The conversion attempt by full-back Grant Anderson fell short.
A long-range penalty by Chalmers shaved the bar as it went over for another three points for the home side but within minutes Ayr had their second try, No.8 Blair McPherson battering a path to the line beside the posts. Anderson did not miss this time and the deficit was four points at half-time. Watsonians emerged after the break as the livelier team, showing a real sense of determination to hold on to their lead and it was a body blow when Ayr absorbed the pressure and went into the lead for the first time when loosehead prop Djustice Sears-Durat was bundled over the line for a third try. Anderson converted.
Watsonians drew level with another Chalmers penalty but then lost winger Young to the sin bin just before Dalgleish went racing up the right wing, kicked over the defence, collected the bounce and touched down for the bonus-point try. An exchange of penalties kept the scoreboard ticking over and Watsonians stormed back in desperation more than expectation until the running and the passes combined perfectly and Young just managed to ground the ball as he was tackled in the last play of the game.
The try made it all square but replacement Ali Harris still had the chance to win it with a conversion from the touchline. The kick was good, curving a little to stay inside the post and deliver an unlikely victory.