It’s not so much the way they tell them as they way they do it. Ayr and warm ups that is.
After the disaster at Currie, this time it was Scott Sutherland’s turn to pick up an injury pre-match and with Callum Forrester and Dean Kelbrick departing the fray early on with injuries, Ayr found themselves minus three big players, writes Ron Evans.
Coupled with all that, they had to contend with a downpour of biblical proportions which delayed the kick off by five minutes leaving them to face their first match at Millbrae this season to be played in muddy conditions. Poor dears.
None of the above could be used as an excuse for a display as woeful in the basics as it was bereft of tactical nous and for the Premiership leaders to be looking down the barrel with 14 minutes to go and 8-7 adrift was the consequence of a stinker.
It prompted a highly respected Hills follower to comment “A casual visitor to Millbrae might have concluded that Hills were the Premier One club and Ayr the current arrivistes (they use words like that in Glasgow’s West End!) of National League rugby” and he was right on the money (we use phrases like that in this column!)
So much so that had that 8-7 scoreline lasted till the whistle, no one could have denied Hills what would have been the biggest upset so far this season.
The one thing which redeemed Ayr’s cause was the realisation in the final 15 minutes that a close driving forward game against a tiring pack would produce a result. It was alarming that it took so long to take that sort of control which produced the two late winning tries.
Four former Ayr players, Ryan Holland, Stuart Howie, Blair McPherson and the evergreen AJ McFarlane turned out for Hills and each relished showing the home support what they could do, none more so than AJ in the No 10 shirt who proceeded to give a masterclass in controlling the game, one from which it is to be hoped young Ayr No10 Finn Russell learned a few lessons.
Hills deservedly took the lead with an Andy Leslie penalty which stirred Ayr from their lethargy and a drive on the line saw South African prop Byron Schmidt score the opening try on his debut.
The margin could have been narrowed had Leslie not missed with a penalty but a 7-3 lead was not what Ayr had been looking for at the break.
Things got worse after half time, Ayr’s guddling inside their own twenty two setting up the field position for Hills to mount a series of drives then switch the ball wide for Leslie to slide over in the corner to take the visitors into the lead.
That finally roused Ayr and a pick and drive sequence ended with Graham Fisken crossing for Russell to convert. Ayr started to rumble and despite some excellent close quarter defending from Hills, they turned the screw and Cammy Taylor went over in the corner. Although the kick was missed, only eight minutes remained for Ayr to run down the clock, something they did with no further alarums.
It was a scare and there is no doubt that Kenny Murray will have harsh words before they host GHA in the next round on Saturday (kick-off 12.30pm).