CHAMPAGNE corks were popping at Millbrae on Saturday evening as Ayr celebrated promotion back to the top flight in some style.

Ayr have been the team to beat in the National League Division One all season – a feat no-one had yet managed in the 13 games Grant Anderson’s men had played going into Saturday’s clash with GHK at Millbrae.

And the Glasgow side, likewise, were unable to stop the Ayr juggernaut as the home side ran in 14 tries in a 94-24 rout to secure the championship, and top flight rugby in 2024-25.

Flanker Cam Reece led the way with a hat-trick of tries, while Adam McGowan, Harry Lynch and Jamie Bova each crossed the line twice; Rohan Pottie, Caleb Rae, Angus North, Ben Frame and Ruairidh Airlie also weighed in with tries of their own as Ayr wrapped up the title with four games still to go.

That means there will be two Ayrshire sides in next season’s top flight – though there were rather fewer smiles in the Marr camp on Saturday evening after Kenny Diffenthal’s men tumbled to defeat against a resurgent Kelso side at Poynder Park.

The Troon men had never before visited the ground on Premiership duty – and it may not be a place they’ll be keen to return to any time soon as the Borderers ran in seven tries on their way to a 48-24 win.

Marr’s hopes of taking anything substantial back to Ayrshire had been all but extinguished by half-time as Kelso reached the turn 31-7 in front – though the visitors did at least secure a try bonus point that helped them hold on to second place in the table ahead of Currie, with Connor Bickerstaff, Gregor Paxton and Willie Farquhar crossing the line to add to prop Ali Rogers’ first-half score.

Garnock’s bid for a second successive promotion shows no sign of hitting any stumbling blocks; the Lochshore side ended their year on Saturday with an eleventh successive league win, 43-14 at home to Stewartry.

Captain Matt Shiells led by example with three of the hosts’ six tries, while Ross Brocket weighed in with a double and Jared Reekie also crossed the line.

Ardrossan Accies, too, kept their 100 per cent record intact; their 44-21 win away to Wigtownshire was their 12th in a row and sees the Memorial Field men go into the new year with a 19-point lead at the top of the West 1 table.

Cumnock also ended their year on a high note with a bonus-point 54-32 win at home to Annan, but Kilmarnock remain mired in the relegation dogfight, alongside Strathaven, Annan and Dalziel, after losing 20-12 away to second-top Lenzie.

Carrick’s run of four straight wins in West 2 was brought to an end in Lanarkshire, with the Maybole men forced to settle for a share of the spoils after a 21-21 draw away to Uddingston – but Irvine’s impressive campaign continued with a ninth successive victory in West 3.

Their latest success was a 23-7 win – including two tries from centre Davie Baird – in a top-of-the-table clash away to a Birkmyre side who were the last team to defeat the Marress men, way back at the end of September.

Meanwhile, a triumphant weekend for Ayr RFC was completed on Sunday when the club’s ladies XV secured the West 1 title with a 38-5 win at home to Oban Lorne – and as if that wasn’t enough, Ayr’s U18 team won the final of the National Youth Shield too, beating Hawick 64-27 at The Hive in the shadow of Murrayfield.