Watsonians head coach Steve Lawrie has tasked his squad with finding another level ahead of their two knock-out matches with Melrose later this month after Saturday’s BT Premiership loss to Ayr.
Ayr battled hard for the 27-17 away victory at Myreside in terrible conditions and, in doing so, clinched third in the table.
As a result the reigning champions will be away to Currie Chieftains in the play-off semi-finals on March 24.
Watsonians finish fourth and will be away to Melrose in their last four tie on the same day.
The Myresiders then host Melrose seven days later in the BT Cup last four.
And Lawrie wants his squad to dust themselves down after this loss and focus fully on the two tough matches against the Borderers.
“Ayr were the more robust, clinical team in this game and they deserved to head away with the victory,” Lawrie said.
“You can’t give a team like that a 14-point lead and be chasing things.
“We did get better, but there is a lot to work on as a squad heading into the play-offs and the BT Cup semi-final.
“Both of those games are against Melrose, the best team in the country, so we know what is needed to try and compete with them.”
Ayr centre Frazier Climo scored a converted try in the seventh minute and the lead was 14-0 soon after when second-row Jonathan Agnew went over for try number two.
Michael Allen’s converted try gave Watsonians points on the board to reduce things to 14-7.
That came in the 16th minute, but they then made it very hard for themselves when both captain Craig Borthwick and Allen were sin-binned.
During the time when they had a numerical advantage Lyle kicked a penalty for Ayr.
And scrum-half Ali Harris then kicked a penalty for the hosts, now back to 15 men, to make it 17-10 to Ayr at half-time.
Watsonians looked a bit more like the team that has been on a great run of late after the interval.
A converted try by hooker Sean Crombie levelled things up in the 48th minute and they were right back in things.
It was Ayr who managed to find an extra gear, prop Steve Longwell credited with their third try in the 56th minute with Lyle adding that conversion and a penalty in the 65th minute to win it for the men from Millbrae.