Tennent’s Scottish Cup

AYR 27


By Callum Kerr

‘SNATCHING victory from the jaws of defeat’, ‘last-gasp winner,’ ‘staring down the barrel’… pick a cliché to describe the Scottish Cup Final and there is a large chance the shoe will fit.

A script too ridiculous to be fiction - it could only have been true.

On Sunday, Ayr sealed their second ever league and cup double in gut-churning, sickening, empathic fashion. From looking down and out late in the game Ayr managed to conjure two tries before an injury-time Frazier Climo penalty from row A sealed cup glory.

Hot off the historic win, Head Coach Peter Murchie praised the efforts of his men: “We found a way to win. All of the momentum was against us in that second half.” Ayr got the ball rolling after four minutes when Kyle Rowe darted over out wide. An audacious leap into touch looked sketchy but after a second review it was clear Rowe managed to acrobatically ground the ball with one hand before being bundled out by the attempted tackler.

A Heriots penalty narrowed the gap before Robbie Smith bullied his way to the line for Ayr’s second. As the break creeped ever closer Heriots mustered up two scores to go ahead.

For much of the second half Ayr couldn’t keep hold of possession. Pressure was turned to points when Ross Jones stretched the lead from the kicking tee, before Jack Blain finished strongly out wide to bring the scoring to 25-12 after 52 minutes. In the hunt for revival, Ayr turned to their bench. The inclusion of Robbie Nairn, Alfie North and Alex McGuire produced immediate go-forward and with the game now in its later stages Ayr began to march. With 15 minutes left a half break from Nairn proved enough to unleash the supporting Climo.

A dive under the posts was followed by a routine conversion to make it a one-score game. Ten minutes later they crossed again. Ayr’s talisman Grant Anderson broke quickly from the ruck to the find Stafford McDowall on his outside. McDowall weaved to bamboozle the last defender and score in the corner.

A wide conversion to take the lead fell short for Climo and the sea of pink in the west stand which had bellowed for 75 minutes went hush. The stakes couldn’t have been higher. Heriots were in possession at Ayr’s 22 with 10 seconds left before the palms of Blair Macpherson took hold of the ball and forced a penalty. Although now in possession, the clock had turned red and Ayr were the wrong side of a 60-metre charge. Climo found touch and Alex McGuire found his man at the line-out.

A freight train of a rolling maul set its’ sights on glory and pushed down the field. All looked lost when Heriots ushered it to touch but the ref’s hand shot up for an infringement. Poetically from the same spot as Climo’s earlier miss, Ayr’s dreams of a double came down to one last roll of the dice - cue the coolest man in the stadium. As Climo stood over the ball and took aim at the posts a silence subdued the stadium.

The kick split the uprights without hesitation, igniting roars from the fans.