Stirling County had to be content with a losing bonus point against RBS Premiership leaders Ayr at a damp and dreich Bridgehaugh on Saturday.
The home side were hoping to build on their success in Wales the previous week and their elite development players Sean Kennedy and Rob McAlpine returned to the starting line-up with Reyner Kennedy and Colin Hutton starting in the front row following strong performances against Bedwas .
Professional Mark Bennett retained his place at outside centre, with his Glasgow Warriors’ team mate Alex Dunbar on the bench.
Ayr were first to score inside four minutes, when a penalty line-out catch and drive led to another penalty, which was tapped quickly by Murray McConnell and off-loaded to Glasgow Warriors’ lock Nick Campbell, who barged his way over the County try-line to touchdown. Former County youngster Finn Russell converted to give Ayr an early 7-0 lead.
County responded and on 20 minutes from an attacking line-out, full-back Ben Addison was on the end of a flowing move involving all the back line, to score in the right corner.
Eight minutes later Danny Gilmour sent a long miss-pass to stretch the visitors’ defensive cover and put Addison clear for his second try in the left corner to give County a 10-7 ahead. Both conversions were missed in difficult kicking conditions with a swirling wind.
In the last play of the first half, from another penalty line-out, Ayr regained the lead after Hayden Wisnewski was driven over to score an un-converted try. And they went further ahead just after the break when Wisnewski went over for a try, converted by Russell.
County tried hard to get back into the game, missing two kicsk at goal but Ayr were always dangerous on the break and the home defence had to remain resolute.
As the clock ran down,Brian Archibald salvaged a losing bonus-point from a late penalty and the final plays of the game were near the Ayr line but the leaders kept their discipline and held out to extend their lead at the top of the Premiership.
County Man of the Match, sponsored by John Graham Metals, was Steve Swindall.