A look at the league before Saturday’s joust could have proved deceptive.
Despite being third from bottom, Boroughmuir are nobody’s patsies and the urge to climb the table, burst Ayr’s home record and topple the leaders were mighty incentives for the capital side so it was no surprise that an enthralling encounter went to the wire.
In a nerve jangling final few minutes, Ayr could have found themselves at the wrong end of the scoreline and no one could have denied the Meggetland crew a bit more than a losing bonus for their endeavours. Yet it should never have come to that with Ayr 12-0 ahead after only nine minutes with two scorching tries, the first by Grant Anderson off a slicing Robbie Fergusson break, the second after a nifty Nick Campbell steal took them upfield for Colin White to dummy then offload to Richard Dalgleish on a great line to score for Peter Jerevich to convert.
Muir upped a gear to force a couple of penalties for Ally Warnock to do what he does so well, slot the kicks. Ayr hit back and if you see a better offload than the extraordinary one from prop George Hunter which put Anderson in for his second try, you will be lucky.
The visitors’ pack were enjoying some superiority, helped by what some observers felt was a tendency by referee Cammy Rudkin to penalise Ayr for offences which ‘Muir committed with impunity.
In the final minutes of the half, their pack again got themselves to the Ayr red zone, had a couple of dips and felt confident enough to take a scrum for a penalty, a decision rewarded by a try from hooker George Turner. Warnock’s conversion took the half time score to 17-13, a margin Ayr could and should have made considerably wider.
Lock Nick Campbell was the first to fall foul of the ref in the second half although his binning looked harsh but Ayr looked comfortable shorthanded, Jerevich hit the post with a penalty, Ayr stayed close to the ‘Muir line and Andy Dunlop emerged from a coruscating drive with the bonus point try.
A poor Ayr clearance fell to Damian Hoyland, a wicked bounce from his kick eluded Cammy Taylor and Jordan Webster pounced for the visitors’ second try and Warnock’s conversion narrowed the lead.
As the clock ran down came what should have been the clincher. A drive with Scott Sutherland and Denford Mutamangira left Ross Doneghan in space, the flanker’s pass set Anderson loose for a beautifully timed offload to put Craig Gossman in for try number five.
Russell kicked arguably the most difficult conversion - two from five is not a great return - but Warnock replied with a penalty and the seemingly interminable two minutes on the clock were nerve wracking until Ayr, pinned in their own 22, scrambled the ball away to secure the win, the bonus and an untarnished home record.
That it should never have been so close could be seen in the looks of relief on the faces of players, coaches and supporters.