Ayr reached the half-way stage of the BT Premiership season with a comfortable lead at the top of the table, after this win by five tries to two over Hawick at Millbrae.
It was not a case of Ayr winning ugly, more one of winning when not playing consistently well. Their kicking game, particularly in the first half, was poor but, with ball in hand, they were just too slick for a dogged Hawick outfit who matched Ayr at the breakdown but didn’t have the cutting edge behind which, in the end, carried Ayr home.
The first half was a poor advert for the Premiership, with both teams making lots of unforced errors. Ayr were perhaps a wee bit fortunate to reach the break leading 8-3, Peter McCallum touching down after a superb break up the left touchline by skipper Ross Curle, and Frazier Climo adding a penalty.
Hawick, who spent a long time in Ayr territory, finished the half strongly, particularly after Ayr’s Scott Sutherland was, amazingly, the one player pinged following a spot of “handbags” involving both packs, but the home defence stood firm. Indeed, some home fans reckoned they were denied a good try after Haddon McPherson followed up a Climo penalty which came off a post and he seemed to beat the cover to the touchdown.
Barely had Sutherland returned after the break than it was the Greens’ turn to play a man short, Shawn Muir the man on the naughty step. While he was off, Grant Anderson went over for Ayr after scrum ball was moved down the narrow side. Climo converted. Ayr stretched their lead in 51 minutes, man-of-the-match McCallum again supporting a Curle break for his second try, which Climo converted from the touchline. But Hawick quickly replied, replacement Terry Skeet barrelling over between the posts, to give Armstrong an easy conversion, before the stand-off added a penalty.
But Ayr finished in style, full-back Anderson scoring a superb solo try in 77 minutes. Then, almost from the resumption, Hawick’s Keith Davies stormed through for a great solo try, converted by Armstrong to cut the Ayr lead to seven points.
The league leaders would not be denied, however, and, as the match moved into injury time a terrific break by Archie Russell was carried on by skipper Curle, to touch down in the corner and complete the scoring.