Ayr Rugby Football Club

At 16.35 on Saturday Ayr were out for the count. Just four minutes remained on the clock and they found themselves on the wrong side of a ten-point deficit. They were to be knocked off the league top-spot and left to rue missed opportunities.

At 16.40, jubilation. In heroic, gut-churning fashion, Ayr had somehow wrangled their way out of the noose and snatched two late tries to steal victory. After 79 minutes of roaring celebration the Bridgehaugh crowd were silent- stunned by an emphatic climax to an otherwise forgettable game. Once again, Scotland's marquee club league had provided a classic. 

The victory was harsh on a well-drilled Stirling outfit, who weren't behind in the contest once until the 80th minute. Straight from the off the home side were on top. A try from Ally Mackie early doors set the tone. Jonny Hope duly converted to make it seven points in as many minutes.

The lead, although deserved, was short lived. Just two minutes later Kyle Rowe broke clear out wide, palming off his Scotland U20s teammate Logan Trotter in the process. He then found the supporting Climo on his inside who cantered in unchallenged. His conversion levelled the scoring.

County regained the lead ten minutes later. After numerous phases deep in enemy territory Stirling were able to make good use of an overlap and Quinton MacGarvie scored out wide. 

Unfortunately for Ayr, County were dealing double-doses and added to their lead straight from the restart. A careless penalty allowed them to push up the field before a destructive rolling maul marched them 20 feet towards the line. Andrew Orr was deemed the man to rise with the ball. The conversion was wide of the mark.

Stirling were in cruise control but with ten minutes left in the half Ayr managed to conjure up as many points from nothing. A loose ball ignited confusion in the home side's ranks and Paddy Dewhirst took full advantage, scraping the ball off the deck and pulling off a looping run around the defenders who hadn't seemed to react. Climo slotted the conversion before adding three more ten seconds later.

Half-time: Stirling County 17-15 Ayr RFC.

Ayr didn't seem to benefit from the intermission and in similar style to the first half County dotted down within minutes of play resuming. A faulty line-out metres from our try line fell to the hands of former Ayr star Peter Jericevich, who darted over before a defender could react. 

For the next fifteen minutes Ayr started to come into a game and enjoyed the lions share of possession. At his glimmering and meticulous best, Frazier Climo's kicking game put them in the right positions on the park and grunt up front from debutant Lars Morrice among others threatened the County line. time and time again they would look to launch an attack but a lack of cutting edge in the final third made way for a multitude of errors. 

After an hour was played Jonny Hope extended his side's lead with three more points. 

As the game ticked towards its' conclusion the intensity of the crowd ramped up with every passing minute. Now in the cover of nightfall, the floodlights lit up the pitch in similar fashion to a stage. Fitting then, that Peter Murchie's men needed a final act fit for Broadway. With ten to play it looked like Ayr had grabbed a score, but the ref called for held-up.

Ayr looked to try again from the resulting scrum and Blair Macpherson launched himself towards the line with the defence at his mercy. Incredibly, County held him up again, and at third attempt managed to usher him out of touch. 

An uproar from the stand celebrated County's meteoric defensive effort, but they weren't out of trouble yet. 

An overthrown Stirling line-out fell into the hands of a stampeding Steven Longwell. The tight-head powered towards the line and dived over with the defenders strapped to his back. Climo's conversion made it a three point game and set up a final shootout fit for a western. 

From staring down the barrel of a gun Ayr had now put themselves in a position to win, and they did just that with seconds to spare. Scott Lyle managed to get a step on his opposite number and rushed through the line unscathed. As the covering full-back headed to close him down he managed to time a beautifully weighted pass to flat-mate Paddy Dewhirst- a monumental task considering the breakneck speed to the game. Dewhirst ran clear to pick up his brace and seal victory.

A feeling of relief rather than celebration flooded the Ayr camp, with Stirling cruelly found wanting.

Full-Time: Stirling County 25-27 Ayr RFC.