Ayr Ladies ran in seven tries to beat Watsonians, gain an unassailable lead at the top of the BT Women's League National Division 1 and secure promotion to the Premier League.
It was the visitors from Edinburgh who had the best of the opening exchanges, their speedy backs running round the Ayr defence. But the home team were light on their feet too, flanker Lynsey Turner and number eight Lynda Morgan showing real pace, with winger Erin McSorley displaying a nice side-step.
Hooker Lisa Croniken was on hand to poach the ball whenever possible and steady the scrum with props Gemma Swankie and Louise McLauchlan. It was their good work that allowed Morgan to break away with scrum-half Emily Irving, stand-off Catherine Shennan and outside centre Rachael Mulholland in support.
But Watsonians were eager with ball in hand, and no sooner had they wrestled possession away from the ladies in pink and black than flying back Charlotte Runcie was away for a try. Stand-off Emma Evans couldn't convert. 0-5.
Ayr kept cool heads, even when their line-out went awry, flanker Jackie O'Neil springing on the loose ball. Turner quickly got her hands on it and passed to McSorley, who found Mulholland. But there was a wall of maroon and white jerseys and the centre had to fight her way through for a try. It was a wide-angled conversion attempt for Shennan and she couldn't make the ball curl in. 5-5.
It was getting fast and furious from both teams, with Morgan, Swankie and McLauchlan putting in some hard work in attack. They were then needed in defence when Watsonians turned over. Shennan, McSorley and second row Ashleigh Nelson put in big tackles too.
Their scrum was on song all day, and another solid shove gave the backs the chance to roam, full-back Sammie Morrison blasting over for an unconverted try. 10-5.
Another was on its way when inside centre Lauren McBride intercepted, with winger Lisa Main in support. It was Irving who swerved this way and that and flew over for an unconverted try in the corner. 15-5.
Both sides found themselves getting penalised, as well as throwing a couple of forward passes in their desperation to get to the try-line, and McLauchlan spent ten minutes in the sin bin for a high tackle.
Watsonians were determined to get into Ayr's twenty-two, but some tenacious tackling by Nelson, who just managed to get her fingertips on a shirt and cling on, stopped them.
Morrison was brilliant under the high ball and just as it seemed she would create an attacking opportunity from an excellent catch, Watsonians suddenly had possession and it was the perfectly angled running of Runcie that got them another try, converted by Evans. 15-12.
Moments later, though, Ayr had forced their way into the visitors' half, Croniken unstoppable as she headed for the line. It was another difficult angle for Shennan and the try went unconverted. 20-12.
The second half began at a canter, with Turner rocketing off up the wing, with McSorley taking it on. After another powerful scrum, Ayr's centres combined to send Mulholland over for her second try, which Shennan converted. 27-12.
Both Turner and Irving were live-wires, shooting off at any opportunity, with the latter hacking on but not quite being able to scoop up the ball to score. Moments later, O'Neil pounced and dived over for her debut try. Shennan's conversion attempt was short. 32-12.
Watsonians were back in possession and back in Ayr's half and although their passing was as speedy as their footwork, they knocked on.
Irving and Shennan were away, with replacement back Kelsey Swift dodging her way through the midfield. It was fast and loose, but Mulholland tidied up to run off for her hat-trick. It was unconverted. 37-12.
Ayr brought on the rest of the bench, with Michelle Nelson (who had made a brief cameo earlier to when McLauchlan was on the sidelines), Daryl Paterson, Lindsay Dick and Zoe Montgomerie getting stuck in.
Going in the opposite direction was Morrison, who needed to be seen by club medic Doc Hollins after an accidental elbow to the face left her covered in blood.
The comings and goings didn't disrupt Watsonians, and they bided their time in Ayr's twenty-two before prop Kim Smyth claimed a try, which Evans converted. 37-19.
Great passing by both Nelsons, second row Phoebe McDowall and McBride nearly let Paterson go over for another score.
Shennan chipped for her backs to chase but they were surrounded and Watsonians got a scrum. Attempting to get the ball to the opposition scrum-half, McDowall found referee Darroch Ramsay in the flight path of her little kick and it caught him on the head. Fortunately, he (and everyone in the stand) saw the funny side.
A few more set pieces followed before the visitors had one last shot at getting a try, but a knock-on brought their hopes to an end before the referee blew the whistle for full-time.
Ayr Ladies commiserated with Watsonians before celebrating on the pitch with champagne and receiving the shield for winning the league. It's been a fantastic season for the players, their coaches Stuart Fenwick, Frazier Climo and Robbie Fergusson, but this success stretches right back to the commitment and dedication of all players and coaches who have been with Ayr Ladies for the past four years.
Final score: Ayr Ladies 37 Watsonians 19.
- Elena Hogarth.