Ayr under-16s capped a successful season with a victory over West of Scotland under-16s in an entertaining West Regional Cup final at Millbrae on Sunday.
In front of a large and enthusiastic crowd, Ayr gained an early penalty when West failed to roll away. They opted for the line-out and the neon ball was kicked into a tree in the Burns Museum garden and remained trapped in the branches like a radioactive egg until some intrepid soul released it.
Shortly after, Ayr got the first points on the board with a penalty by stand-off Matt Davidson. 3-0.
West's speedy backs were causing all sorts of trouble until Ayr left wing Jack Harris clung on to a red and yellow shirt by his fingertips to drag down the attacker.
Ayr got themselves into difficulty in their own twenty-two by infringing at the scrum and straying offside but some tenacious defence prevented the visitors from finding their way to the try-line. It got worse for Ayr when lock David Kerr was yellow carded. West went for the line again but a double movement was called by the referee and no score given.
A couple of solid line-outs from the home team gave them a good attacking platform and outside centre Harry Lynch shot through the defence to score an excellent try. Davidson's conversion attempt hit the post. 8-0.
West again were quick but Ayr scrum-half Cameron Black and second row Logan Richardson put in some good tackles. Ayr regained possession and a chip-and-chase from Davidson and outside centre Calum Gaw pushed them right up to West's try-line but they couldn't quite make it.
It was hooker and captain Stuart Collier's turn to charge for the line, with Davidson, Gaw and inside centre Harry Lynch in support but the ball was knocked on. They didn't have long to wait for another chance though as right wing Rory McMurray flew away with the ball and sped over the line for a try. Davidson converted. 18-0.
West had their first opportunity for points after Ayr were pinged for offside but the kick went wide.
Things got a bit frantic towards the end of the first half with errors from both teams, but full-back James Baird and flankers Euan Hamilton and Robbie Nicol were on the charge. West's defence was good though and they managed to nab the ball only for Gaw to intercept and release Baird to scamper away for an unconverted try. 23-0.
The visitors quickly got on the scoreboard at the start of the second half with a penalty. 23-3.
They then set off on some promising runs, but Nicol and prop Jack McDougall were on hand to stop them. Black poached a pass and number eight Cameron Reece, McDougall and McMurray combined to get into West's half.
West quickly took advantage of Ayr being offside and their right wing took off, batting away the Ayr defenders. Ayr turned over though but their kick was caught and West pressed for the line. They were just short but the ensuing scrum gave them another shot and their right wing sped over for an unconverted try. 23-8.
Ayr's backs got a good run around, with replacement Adam White barging his way through the defence, but West were determined not to let them get anywhere near the line. They were solid at the set pieces too, twice stealing Ayr's line-out.
Gaw had another break when Ayr regained possession but it came to nothing and West fancied their chances of a counter attack. Their cause was helped when Ayr replacement Patrick McCahill was sin-binned and couple of penalties followed. West found the gap and got another try, which was converted. 23-15.
The visitors' tails were up but they gave away a penalty. It was a long shot, but Davidson stepped up to the tee. He had the distance but it was wide. However, several West players moved during his run-up and he was allowed another strike, which went over the crossbar. 26-15.
West had their own shot at goal moments later but it was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, they continued to threaten with ball in hand but a stray pass was pounced on by Davidson and he raced away for a try, which he converted himself. 33-15.
There was just enough time for both sides to attempt to get to each other's try-line but the referee brought the exciting second half to an end to hand the trophy to Ayr.
Final score: Ayr U16s 33 West of Scotland 15.
- Eléna Hogarth.