Ayr 25, West of Scotland 27

WEST must neither be accused of stealing this game nor of staging a

comeback which would have made Lazarus look a slouch. It must instead be

Ayr who are left asking a large number of wide-ranging questions about

what went wrong in a second half in which an apparently unassailable

lead was well and truly assailed.

There was a wide range of theories on offer around the Millbrae

clubhouse in the aftermath of this remarkable match. Those came mainly

from the rather disgruntled Ayr followers -- the West folk were just


Having dismissed some of the more technical theories it came down to

the fact that either Ayr were content to sit back, feeling they had done

enough in the first half to win most games, or that their fitness is in

question and they ran out of steam at a disturbingly early stage.

The former can hopefully be sorted out by just not doing it again, but

the latter is more worrying, as perhaps this could be the Millbrae side

suffering from a lack of specialist coaching following the parting of

the ways with John McHarg.

West opened the scoring on a delightful day, given conditions

elsewhere, when Grant Steel was caught by Gerry Hawkes and the swift

following up of David Calderwood and John MacDonald led to a try for the

latter. David Barrett had no trouble with the conversion -- a hint of

what was to come.

Ayr seemed stung into action and proceeded to dominate the game,

building a lead through a Crawford McGuffie penalty goal, a Derek Stark

try from impressive back play, and a Steel penalty goal.

Fergus McDowall had the bulk of the possession from the lineouts, part

of a splendid all-round performance. The forwards scrummaged and mauled

well, and the threequarters did their bit, first when Stark confirmed

his leadership of the Scottish try-scoring table when he made a break,

timed a pass perfectly to Phil Manning and ran in the return.

McGuffie converted, then added his own try when he exploited a gap in

the West defence and raced through. Steel added goal points.

The next 42 minutes were to be a dream sequence for the visitors, a

nightmare for the hosts. Barrett's brace of penalty goals put his side

closer, then he converted after Fraser Stott dived over for a try when

David Millar exploited a rare Ayr lineout weakness.

It seemed all over even when Barrett slotted a penalty goal for 21-25.

The ball should have been thumped dead from the re-start but instead was

swept up by David Ross, who attacked, linked with David McKee and

Barrett, who popped up the ball to Duncan Drummond. His try levelled

matters, and that man Barrett snatched the points in the last second

with a magnificent touchline conversion, taking his points tally to over


Ayr -- G G Steel; D A Stark, R A Gilmour, A C McGuffie, P P Manning; D

V Anderson,

A G J Nicolson; A J S Howat, J S Williamson,

A S T Adair, C M McCallum, A F McDowall,

J C McHarg, D W Brown, C W R McCallum.

West of Scotland -- D N Barrett; G F Hawkes, I Curle, D R McKee, D G

Ross; D H Drummond, F Stott; I A Cochran, D R Livingston, J P MacDonald,

D Jones, H B Richmond, I Jamison, D Millar, D M Calderwood.

Referee -- M S Clayton (Whitecraigs).