It was a night for battling at BT Murrayfield as Ayr-Wellington U18s followed in the footsteps of their U16 club-mates and didn't give up as they took on Stirling County in the National Youth League Cup final.
Ayr had their hands full from the off, County putting them under pressure at the set piece and scampering about in attack. The Bridgehaugh side had an early opportunity to get points on the board but full-back Kieran Gammie missed the penalty kick.
Ayr soon settled down at the scrum, the front row of Logan Richardson, Seth Rae and Craig Miller looking immovable. All three would later make their presence known in attack too.
County tried to get their attack going again but Ayr harried them at every turn, captain Cameron Reece and his fellow back-rowers Mitchell Wyllie and Calum Gaw always at the ready with tackles.
Half-backs Ross McCorkindale and Cameron Black organised the Ayr backs, with centre Harry Lynch selling a dummy to break away, and full-back James Baird, wingers Rory McMurray and Mac MacInnes, Reece and Miller showing their pace too.
It was a case of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do for each team, as they constantly tried to outfox each other in an absorbing yet scoreless first half hour. It was County who eventually got the scoreboard moving, Gammie nailing the penalty. 0-3.
Ayr centre Jack Gaw had the chance to reply after half-time but his kick was just wide.
MacInnes and Baird were busy in attack and defence, as were second rows Euan Hamilton and Declan Bryce, but County number eight Wallace Nelson squeezed through a gap and galloped off up the wing for a try, which Gammie converted. 0-10.
Hamilton and Miller launched Ayr back into the opposition half but some big hits by County kept them at bay, and it wasn't long before they had reclaimed possession and centre Andrew McLean scored. Gammie couldn't convert this time. 0-15.
Ayr hit back quickly, Lynch starting things off before the ball was swiftly moved through the hands to Richardson, who claimed the try. Jack Gaw converted. 7-15.
Rae and replacement back Craig Hunter set off on a couple of exciting runs before Gaw stepped up to the tee again to add a penalty. 10-15.
Gammie then had a kick at goal but missed. His team-mates were soon back up at Ayr's five-metre line but some sterling defence by Rae meant they didn't get over immediately. The Millbrae team were tackling their hearts out but County flanker Cameron Blackmore claimed a try, with Gammie converting. 10-22.
With just a minute remaining, Ayr-Wellington were beaten but unbowed, taking the quick penalty with hopes of more points. County, though, snaffled back possession and it was all over.
Final score: Ayr-Wellington 10 Stirling County 22.
- Elena Hogarth.