Ayr ran in six tries to beat Glasgow Hawks 39-13 in the BT Premiership at Millbrae on Saturday and climb back to the top of the table.
Possession went back and forth between the two teams before Djustice Sears-Duru, Glasgow Warriors' Canadian international prop on his first appearance for Ayr, showed excellent hands to get the ball to centre Archie Russell, who muscled his way through the defence.
Captain Grant Anderson, second row Scott Sutherland and Curle got Ayr right up into Hawks' twenty-two and scrum-half David Armstrong scrambled for the line. But he didn't make and his opposite number, another Glasgow Warrior, Grayson Hart, found himself in the sin bin.
McAlpine returned just as Ayr got locked into some scrummaging and came out on top, number eight Blair Macpherson picking up the ball at the back and dotting it down for a try. Curle was on kicking duty and got the conversion. 10-3.
The Old Anniesland side could have replied with a try of their own after a chip by Ayr's Anderson came to the hands of Bulumakau but the Scotland 7s cap knocked on.
Again, Ayr dominated the scrum, gained a penalty, took the line-out and rumbled to the line, prop-turned-flanker George Hunter claiming the try. The conversion angle was tight against the touchline, but Curle struck it perfectly. 17-3.
Another Ayr kick ended up in Hawks' hands, those of Murchie, but in taking the ball, his own momentum slid him right into touch.
Ayr's line-out was firing well but they later knocked on, handing possession to Hawks. But they ended up getting it back only to give it away again in a bizarre period of play that ended with Bulumakau almost getting a try.
The visitors got their score moments later when second row Andy Kirkland launched himself over the line in the corner. Horne's conversion went awry as Ayr winger Craig Gossman charged at him. 17-8.
Hawks started the second half at a canter, flanker Grant Stewart barging over for a try. It was another difficult conversion for Horne as this time Ayr winger Richard Dalgleish charged at him and he missed. 17-13.
There was then a major shift in the game when McGroarty was shown a red card for a dangerous tackle on Sutherland. Their misery was compounded when Bulumakau was yellow-carded minutes later.
They did incredibly well to hold Ayr with just thirteen men but it couldn't last. Hunter, prop Steven Longwell, Macpherson, Armstrong and Anderson - in between what seemed like twenty scrums in a row - headed for the line and it was Macpherson who eventually went over for the try. With Curle off with a leg strain (replaced by teenager Paddy Dewhirst on his 1st XV debut), Anderson stepped up to the kicking tee but missed the conversion. 22-13.
Anderson would get some points moments later. Hunter, Russell, Armstrong and Gossman scurried for the line before passing to the captain, who dodged the defenders to score. Dewhirst had a go at the conversion but couldn't get it. 27-13.
Hunter moved to prop with Longwell off and Ruaridh Mackenzie made his debut for Ayr in the back row.
A strong scrum from Ayr let Macpherson loose, and he released Armstrong. The scrum-half dummied and made a leaping pass to Gossman, with the winger making a run for it.
It came to nothing as Hawks got a penalty. Their kick for touch didn't go far enough and Armstrong gathered and cleared. Hawks attacked from the line-out, but Russell, hooker David Young, McAlpine and Mackenzie got stuck into some thumping tackles.
A scrum apiece and Ayr got their hands back on the ball, with almost everyone firing it this way and that. A line-out to Ayr after Hawks failed to roll away was messy but flanker Will Bordill tidied up and Mackenzie capped his debut by spotting a gap and sailing through for a try. Dewhirst converted. 34-13.
Ayr emptied the bench, with Stevenson back on for McAlpine, Robbie Smith for Young and Jamie Bova for Dalgleish.
Tempers flared once again but a stern talking-to from the referee calmed everyone down.
A scrum for Ayr let Gossman rush off, with Stevenson and Mackenzie in support. It was Macpherson who went over for the try, claiming a hat-trick. Dewhirst's conversion was short. 39-13.
It was the final play of the game. Ayr celebrated being back at the top of the table. But Hawks are still only three points behind and Melrose just two, so there is all to play for after eight rounds of fantastic rugby.
Final score: Ayr 39 Glasgow Hawks 13.
Slaters Menswear man of the match: Blair Macpherson.
- Elena Hogarth.