Currie Chieftains coach Ben Cairns pointed to lessons his men took on board after last month’s agonising BT Cup exit against the same opponents as a crucial factor in Saturday’s 14-12 win at Ayr in one of the few matches to go ahead as the club rugby programme slithered into the seasonal shutdown.
“Our defence in the second half was outstanding and we managed to ride our luck a bit,” said Cairns. “We had most of the pressure in the first half but we didn’t score as many points as we should have. We had been in a similar position three weeks ago and we learned from that.”
The hosts claimed an early try through George Stokes, with Scott Lyle converting, but Chieftains bounced back to square matters when Charlie Shiel, on his return to the team after a spell as cover at Edinburgh Rugby, darted in and Jamie Forbes kicked the conversion.
The visitors went in at half-time with a 14-7 lead after skipper Robbie Nelson showed his strength to force his way over and Forbes again added the extras.
Ayr trimmed the deficit to two points when Robbie Smith dotted down early in the second period for an unconverted score.
That set the scene for a dramatic final half hour as Chieftains clung to their slender advantage and Ayr sought to repeat their last-ditch victory when the teams met on cup duty, having also taken the honours in the reverse league fixture in September.
However, despite opportunities for both sides, neither of them managed to add to their points tally and the visitors were rewarded for their gutsy efforts as they played out the closing minutes in opposition territory to move into third place in the table with six matches to play.
“It’s in our hands,” added Cairns whose men are now looking forward to the next four-week block before the international break, starting with a rescheduled match against Boroughmuir on January 6. However, he is taking nothing for granted. “We have a tough run of matches, but it’s tough for everybody. Hopefully we can get results and will go to Heriot’s on the last day of the season with a chance of finishing in the top two.”