Ayr-Wellington U16s did themselves and the club proud on a cold Friday night at BT Murrayfield as they battled to the end in their National Youth League Cup final against Hawick Albion.
Both sides were ambitious with ball in hand, Ayr full-back Jake Jacobson, wingers Chris Easton and Jonathan Easton and centre Chris Bain hitting every ball at pace. But Hawick were just as lively, centre and captain Andrew Mitchell making a terrific break early on.
There were plenty of kicks, hacks and chips as each team searched for a way through two tough sets of defenders. They were matching each other at the set piece too, but Ayr just had the upper hand in the loose, scrum-half Craig Doolan and flanker and captain Olly Mossie pushing their troops on into Hawick's twenty-two.
Mossie and second rows Euan Bulloch and Dylan Wilson led from a line-out and after a solid drive, it was hooker Scott Clelland who powered his way over for the opening score. It was a tricky angle for the conversion out on the touchline and Jacobson couldn't make it. 5-0.
Hawick were threatening in attack but a crunching tackle by Ayr flanker Harry Ledgerwood dislodged the ball and the Millbrae team were soon away, Clelland on the charge again. Centre Tom Lanni took it on with Bain and Chris Easton in support but the ball bobbled out of play.
Hawick got their first points on the board thanks to a penalty by their full-back Bailey Donaldson. 5-3.
The Borderers could scent more points, and winger Finnan Gordon Woolley would have been away were it not for a excellent covering tackle by Chris Easton.
Ayr turned the screw at the scrum, the front row of Clelland, Ben Cree and Conlan McLuckie working hard. They managed to push Hawick off the ball, and even when the Mansfield side held firm, Doolan, number eight Stephen McLarty and stand-off Andy Morrison were ready to pounce on anything that wasn't closely guarded.
The Easton brothers got the second half off to a flier, Chris catching a high ball whilst running backwards, turning and shooting off through the defence on one wing, while Jonathan showed tremendous pace to race away along the other.
But Hawick had a sense of purpose at the resumption and despite the defensive efforts of Wilson and his fellow forwards, there was no stopping centre Mully Bannerman from scoring from a charge-down. Donaldson added the conversion. 5-10.
Clelland, Jacobson, both Eastons and replacement back Jason McGuinness continued to stretch their legs but the Hawick defence had gone up a notch.
Donaldson hit another well-struck penalty. 5-13.
The clock was ticking towards full-time, but Ayr-Wellington got stuck into some hard work in both defence and attack, Clelland, McGuinness and Mossie all fending off tacklers to get their team back into Hawick's half.
They stayed strong in the scrum until McLuckie spotted a gap and bulldozed over the line for an unconverted try. 10-13.
There was one final play of the game, but Hawick were awarded a penalty and happily booted the ball off the park to claim the trophy, much to the delight of their enthusiastic travelling support.
Final score: Ayr-Wellington U16s 10 Hawick Albion 13.
- Elena Hogarth.