To lose a match by one point is hard enough, but to miss out on a first national title for 31 years was totally devastating for both team and supporters, writes Laing Speirs.
Gala have developed a habit of waiting for a second half revival and, on Saturday, the reawakening came just too late to save their title bid in a game where their forwards had the edge, but where some poor first half tackling opened the door to a slick and impressive bunch of runners.
In the most dramatic of finishes Gala missed out with a late flurry of tries all scored by their forwards, while Ayr got a vital break when Gala’s cover of a kick-off went badly wrong.
Coach George Graham, who had brought his side through a good few big second half performances this season, was, in his own words, “heart broken” by the result.
“It was hard to take, but we didn’t earn a win today. We just didn’t play well enough in the first half,” he said.
And yet, even in that first period, Gala were in the lead for long periods. David O’Hagan kicked four good penalties, and hit the post with another from far out.
But this went for little as Ayr’s pacy runners, aided by some indecisive tackling, ran in three tries from Craig and Kerr Gossman, and back row man James Eddie, with Glasgow Warriors stand-off Finn Russell adding a conversion.
In the second half Gala left it late to pick up the game, tries from Rory Sutherland, Tom Weir and Opeta Palepoi, all converted by O’Hagan, building the big finish.
But, by that time, Ayr tries from Ross Curle and Kerr Gossman, with Russell kicking a penalty and two conversion had left Gala short of time and that one vital point.