By Elena Hogarth.
There was a sense of deja vu as Ayr took to a soggy pitch on a freezing day against the BT Premiership's lowest placed side fighting for their league life and came away with a disappointing loss. Last week, it was Edinburgh Accies who got the win against Ayr and this Saturday it was Boroughmuir.
The match began half an hour late after Boroughmuir's bus broke down en route to Millbrae, but when things did get underway, it was the home team who had the better start.
Scrum-half David Armstrong had a couple of great takes under the high ball and flanker Andrew Dunlop charged down an attempted clearance and chased it like a gazelle, leading to a penalty chance for outside centre Ross Curle, which he unfortunately couldn't get.
Things got worse for the visitors when flanker Mike Entwhistle found himself in the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on winger Craig Gossman and Curle lined up another penalty. It hit the post this time.
A scrum each and a knock-on each followed by a couple of line-outs for Ayr let galloping prop George Hunter away, with number eight Graham Fisken, second row Scott Sutherland and inside centre Dean Kelbrick in support. But Boroughmuir turned it over and cleared.
Boroughmuir tried to mess up Ayr's attack, but Armstrong rescued things and Fisken was let loose, bashing a defender out of the way. Curle displayed lovely handling on such a cold afternoon, clinging on to a wobbly pass and releasing Hunter, who passed on to stand-off Danny McCluskey. But it all got a bit scrappy, with the ball patted about on Boroughmuir's five-metre line until it went flying off the pitch.
Ayr stayed in Boroughmuir's half for a period, with Curle, Kelbrick and Gossman firing the ball about, until Curle had another shot at goal, missing again.
Ayr were dealt a blow when they lost Hunter to injury and soon the visitors were rumbling towards the line. They were shoved out by Ayr's defenders. A few moments later and Ayr were pinged for not rolling away and Carl Bezuidenhout kicked the penalty. 0-3.
A promising Ayr attack was launched by yet another terrific catch by Armstrong. It was taken on by full-back Grant Anderson, passed back to Armstrong and then Dunlop, but Ayr were halted for crossing.
It was Boroughmuir's turn to break, winger Grant McConnell leading the way with an electrifying run. It was brought to an end by a superb tackle from Ayr flanker Callum Templeton which created a turnover. Gossman set off up the wing but his chip ahead went straight out.
After a missed kick for the corner and later a squint line-out from Boroughmuir, McCluskey took the ball from the Ayr scrum and had the crowd cheering with a wonderful run which saw him slip through the Boroughmuir defence. It unfortunately ended with a forward pass.
Gossman took off up the wing again but was closed down by Entwhistle. He was so determined to catch Ayr's diminutive flier that he propelled himself off the pitch and almost took out the mascot.
Armstrong spotted a gap and scurried his way round the defence to release Kelbrick. Dunlop was on hand to move things on, as was Curle. Winger Robbie Fergusson raced off and chipped ahead only for a Boroughmuir defender to ground the ball.
Armstrong was off again but his pass to Gossman was judged forward and the hard-working scrum-half, after thirty-eight excellent minutes, was substituted by Murray McConnell. But it was a brief cameo for the Glasgow Warrior as he was dismayed to be shown a yellow card for a tackle.
With the Ayr McConnell in the bin, his Boroughmuir namesake nipped over for a try, which went unconverted. 0-8.
With Ayr in clean shirts for the second half, they looked to get on the scoreboard but just couldn't. Entwhistle dived on the ball in the corner to get another unconverted try. 0-13.
Soon after, Curle had the chance for three points with a penalty which he easily got. 3-13.
However, Bezuidenhout did the same moments later. 3-16.
A terrible mix-up amongst the Ayr defenders left the ball bobbling about in their twenty-two and Boroughmuir inside centre David Reekie grabbed his side's third try. Bezuidenhout again missed the conversion. 3-21.
Templeton and replacement prop Stuart Fenwick led Ayr's charge and they camped out on Boroughmuir's five-metre line until Murray McConnell took the quick one and sprung over for a much needed try. Curle got the conversion. 10-21.
Boroughmuir were back in it though, with outside centre Sam Beard making for the line, only to be bundled into touch by the home defence.
Ayr snaffled a few Boroughmuir line-outs throughout the afternoon but they couldn't do anything with the steals. The visitors, though, combined lively play with great patience and the likes of Fergusson, Kelbrick and Templeton were kept busy dragging their attackers into the mud.
Fisken was left to roam for Ayr, speeding off again through the defence. The resulting chip went too far and such was Ayr's desperation to get the try that whoever was chasing it slid head-first into an advertising board.
The home team kept up the pressure in Boroughmuir's half, scrumming away doggedly until their opponents infringed one too many times and the referee trotted over to the posts to award the penalty try. Curle quickly converted. 17-21.
With five minutes left, it was Fisken who charged on but he was unfortunately tackled high. The ensuing penalty and line-out got Ayr into an excellent position to get another try but all credit must go to the strong Boroughmuir defence for not letting them through.
As the whistle went to end the match, Boroughmuir deservedly celebrated having lifted themselves off the bottom of the BT Premiership table and Ayr were left to mull over another disappointing afternoon.
Final score: Ayr 17 Boroughmuir 21.