Match Reports

  1. Aberdeen Rugby 36 GHA 26

    Aberdeen Grammar produced the goods when it mattered most, putting a poor run of results behind them to beat GHA at Rubislaw and thus save themselves from relegation.

    With three games to go, Grammar’s victory sends Howe of Fife and Hamilton down to National 2.

    Grammar captain and winger Grant Walker scored their fourth try to claim a priceless bonus point.

    He said: “This was a totally committed effort. Even when we got things wrong, we were able to sort them. It’s a great relief to save our season. We really should never have been in this situation.”

    Walker organised his young back division while putting in the big hits to repel a GHA side that never gave up and kept the nervous home supporters on their toes.

    Grammar coach Ali O’Connor said: “Even when we win we make hard work of it. Perhaps one day we will put in an entire 80 minutes. But it was a good, deserved win, full of excellent performances. Our set-pieces were good. We’ll now enjoy our last three games.”

    Grammar set the tone by taking the early plays to GHA. They earned two penalties, kicked by centre Tom Aplin. Stand off Sam Knudson dropped a superb 35-yard goal in 15 minutes. A pushover try was attributed to lock Robin Cessford, converted by Knudson, to make it 16-0 and at that stage it looked like the visitors might be over-run.

    But as has been the Grammar way, they eased off, allowing the Braidholm side back into the game. Full back Grant Mollinson strolled through a poor defence for a try which was converted by Andrew Goudie.

    Before the break, Grammar added unconverted tries by Aplin and flanker Matt McCall.

    But the fragile home defence had been caught out between those two scores when GHA winger Jonathon Hamilton-Potter scored in the corner and Goudie added the extras. The sides turned round at half-time with Grammar leading 26-14.

    The second half belonged to the Rubislaw men, though it took them until the 61st minute to add to their tally when Walker plunged over to give Aplin an easy kick under the posts to make it 33-14.

    GHA hit back with tries from winger Andrew Spowart and replacement Chris Rome, one of which was converted.

    But it was Aplin who had the last word with a late penalty to make the game safe.

    Grammar had heroes all over the pitch. In the front row Ross Anderson was a tireless worker, as was flanker McCall, whilst Knudson had his best game in a Grammar jersey.

    © Jack Nixon

    Aberdeen Rugby; Doug Russell; Grant Walker, Matt Arnold, Tom Aplin, Calum Ruxton; Sam Knudson, Luke Gray; Ross Anderson, Fergus McKenzie, Rob Ellinson; Aaron Robertson, Robin Cessford; Matt McCall, Connal Howard, Chris Jollands.

    Replacements: Shane Clark, Christian Brew, Jordan Robertson, Dom Wallen, Bryn Perrott.

    GHA: Grant Mollinson; Andrew Spowart, Ben Addison, Ross Finlay, Jonathon Hamilton-Potter; Andrew Goudie, Peter Jericevich; Tony Brogan, Seitaro Usada, Michael Scott; Adam Kerr, Adam Barnett; Dario Ewing, Ross Angus, Grant MacDonald.

    Replacements: Gordon Campbell, Calum Braid, Jamie Auld, Chris Rome, Cameron King.


  2. Musselburgh 38 Aberdeen Rugby 30

    Aberdeen Grammar edged another step towards safety after picking up a precious bonus point at Musselburgh on Saturday, but should have had a five-point maximum after letting a 22-15 interval escape.

    There was better news for the relegation-haunted Rubislaw side as Hamilton and Howe, the two sides beneath it, both lost, leaving Grammar needing only one win to escape the drop from their remaining four games, two of which are at home.

    Head coach Ali O’Connor was hugely frustrated and said: “We beat ourselves after failing to consolidate an early lead, including a hat-trick of superb tries from winger Matt Arnold, and then late in the game when we eased in front, only to concede a late penalty.

    It was a disappointing finish to an improved performance, but a win at home to GHA in two weeks will make us safe.”

    Grammar’s players hit the ground running, mainly due to a fine individual showing from Arnold, who twice skinned the home defence to give his side a great start.

    But as is the Grammar way, the Rubislaw side then allowed the Stoneyhill men back into the game, this despite Arnold scoring a third try, and centre Tom Aplin kicking two conversions and a penalty, and should have been more than 22-15 to the good at half-time.

    Musselburgh made the most of the reprieve, running the show in the second half, but were pegged back by Grammar who scored a fourth try through Calum Ruxton, and then regained the lead at 30-28 late on in the second half when Aplin kicked his second penalty. The late effort looked to have won the game for the visitors, but the home side snatched victory with a converted try and a penalty to ake its own position safe, leaving Grammar to rue what might have been.

    O’Connor added: “Once again we failed to handle restarts, and missed a number of vital tackles, but hopefully we will get in right on March 25. Then we have games against Edinburgh Accies, Dundee and Jed-Forest in which to pick the points required to retain our league status and I am confident we will.”

    © Jack Nixon

    Aberdeen Rugby: Doug Russell; Matt Arnold, Alex Ratcliffe, Tom Aplin, Calum Ruxton; Sam Knudson, Jake Gray;  Rob Ellinson, Fergus McKenzie, Colin Neilson; Aaron Robertson, Matt McCall; Chris Jollands, Conall Howard, Robin Cessford.

    Replacements: Shane Clark, Jordan Robertson, Dom Wallen, Christian Brew, Bryn Perrott.


  3. Marr 78 Aberdeen Rugby 7

    Aberdeen Grammar will almost certainly need to rely on others if they are to avoid relegation after a humiliating 12-try defeat in Ayrshire at the hands of leaders Marr.

    This was one of the worst defeats in the 124-history of Grammar. The other clubs that might ease the pain for the Rubislaw side include Howe of Fife and Hamilton, the sides immediately below the Aberdeen team, who both face testing run-ins and are already 13 and six points respectively behind Grammar.

    Head coach Ali O’Connor acknowledged the grim reality of the club’s situation and said: “With five games to play, we have targeted three wins and, of course, we would like to see our fellow strugglers lose.

    “But we can’t be reliant on others failing, we have to do it ourselves. It’s going to be tough, but the games against Musselburgh, GHA, Jed-Forest and Dundee are all winnable, while the Edinburgh Accies away [game] is much tougher.

    “We always knew the Marr game was a huge test, and so it proved. They are a highly organised, physical side who are now all but promoted.

    “It was all about performance. We had one or two players who stood up to be counted, including hooker Fergus McKenzie who turned in a workmanlike showing, as did teenage scrum half Craig Shepherd in his first league start, even managing to score our try.

    “Winger Ben Renton also played well and, despite conceding 12 tries, we didn’t fall off tackles.

    “I’m very optimistic about us staying up.

    “There is a great spirit among the players and we now have two weeks off before we go to Musselburgh.”

    The Rubislaw [side] were never in the hunt, falling behind right from the first whistle, and trailing 38-7 at half-time.

    The home side’s pack were rampant throughout, and in particular in the back row where Mackenzie Pearce grabbed a hat-trick of tries, and Ben Johnston two, as they piled more second-half misery on the beleaguered Aberdeen side.

    Stand off Colin Sturgeon kicked nine conversions in the wild, wet conditions at Fullarton Park.

    © Jack Nixon

    Marr: Craig Kolarik; Scott Bickerstaff, Gregor Paxton, Connor Bickerstaff, Tom Steven; Colin Sturgeon, Grant Baird; Andrew Acton, Ollie Rossi, William Farquhar; Kris Kirk, Daniel Law; Mackenzie Pearce, Angus Johnston, Ben Johnston.

    Replacements: Chris Nisbet, Stephen Adair, Kyle Vallance, Gregor Ness, Andrew Mill.

    Aberdeen Rugby: Doug Russell; Ben Renton, Alex Ratcliffe (c), Tom Aplin, Grant Walker; Sam Knudson, Craig Shepherd; Colin Neilson, Fergus McKenzie, Ross Anderson; Aaron Robertson, Shane Clark; Dom Wallen, Conall Howard, Robin Cessford.

    Replacements: Alex McLeod, Jordan Robertson, Scott Renfrew, Bryn Perrott, Calum Ruxton.






  4. Selkirk 18 Aberdeen Rugby 9

    Aberdeen Grammar’s grim struggle against the threat of relegation continued at Selkirk on Saturday where the Rubislaw men came up two points short of collecting a losing bonus point in an 18-9 defeat. The consolation for the travellers came when news was confirmed Hamilton and Howe of Fife, the two sides beneath them in the table, had also lost. 

    John Stewart, the Grammar tem manager, said: “We really should not be depending on other clubs, but at this stage in our campaign we will settle for anything we can get.

    “We probably deserved to take something out of the game, especially as the conditions were appalling.

    “There were some outstanding performances from our players, including a great debut for teenager Ben Renton, who came on in the second half.

    “Centre Tom Aplin kicked well, knocking over three penalties for us, but we were not helped by picking up two yellow cards. Hooker Fergus McKenzie and Robin Cessford were the pick of our forwards.

    Grammar started brightly on the sodden Philiphaugh pitch, racing into a six-point lead in the first 20 minutes thanks to two well-struck penalties from the boot of Aplin before Selkirk’s scrum half Michael Davies raced over in 25 minutes for the first of their three unconverted tries.

    Craig Whyte, the home side’s left winger, was a continual threat to the Grammar defence, but the Border side had to rely on full back Ciaran Whyte to kick a penalty to turn round 8-6 in the lead at half time.

    The home side continued to dominate in the second period and it was no surprise when they increased their lead through hooker James Bett who crashed over for a try. Grammar rallied, but could only muster another Aplin penalty, and it was flanker Ian Oosthuizen who had the last word, racing through the visitors’ defence for a third try which Whyte again failed to convert.

    Despite Grammar’s desperate attempts they were unable to close the gap, but remain seven points above Hamilton and 12 above bottom club Howe of Fife with six games remaining, including a trip to leaders Marr on Saturday.

    Stewart added: “we don’t have the easiest of run-ins but the players are determined to get themselves out of danger.”

    Selkirk: Ciaran Whyte; Tythan Adams, Daren Clapperton, Ross Nixon, Callum McEwan;

    Gavin Craig, Mikey Davies; Kieran Cooney, James Bett, Bonekeke Siyothula; Robert Cook, Peter Forrest; Ian Oosthuizen, Matt Robertson, Craig MacDougall.

    Replacements: Frazer Anderson, Josh Mackay, Michael Waldron.

    Aberdeen Rugby: Doug Russell; Grant Walker, Alex Ratcliffe, Tom Aplin, Ben Renton; Sam Knudson, Jake Gray; Rob Ellinson, Fergus McKenzie, Colin Neilson; Aaron Robertson, Robin Cessford; Christian Brew, Conall Howard, Chris Jollands.

    Replacements: Ross Anderson, Shane Clark, Dom Wallen, Craig Shepherd, Ethan Murray.


  5. Aberdeen Rugby 12 Ayr 51

    Aberdeen Rugby 12 Ayr 51 

    Aberdeen grammar’s spirited second-half performance against one of the Premiership’s high-fliers has given coach Ali O’Connor hope for the National 1 survival struggle.

    Grammar were beaten but not disgraced in this National Cup tie and O’Connor said: “We didn’t cope with Ayr’s first-half physicality but we adjusted pretty well in the second half and scored two tries while conceding three more, having shipped six in the first half.

    “We had a number of players who stood out, including lock Robin Cessford and number eight Chris Jollands, while Tom Aplin made a great fist of standing in for Sam Knudson. Teenager Craig Shepherd had a day to remember when he came on at full back for his first game.

    “There was a belief from the second-half performance that we can carry into the league games.”

    Ayr coach Calum Forester said: “We were surprised by the force of Grammar’s response. At 32-0 at half-time we looked totally in control but they matched us blow for blow in the second half. On that form there is no way they will be relegated.”

    For all of seven minutes Grammar enjoyed parity only to be shattered by four Ayr tries in the space of 22 minutes, the pick being the first effort from Frazier Climo, who easily outpaced the cover defence. Worse was to come as tries rained in on the home side from winger Jamie Bova, prop Adam Prentice, winger Richard Dalgleish and two from Rob McAlpine.

    Luckily for Grammar, Ayr stand off Paddy Dewhirst was in poor kicking form, managing to convert only one of the six touchdowns.

    The Rubislaw side started the second half with serious intent and to the delight of their supporters Matt Arnold raced in under the posts to open his side’s account.

    Aplin added the conversion but the Millbrae club’s response was immediate, running in converted tries through hooker Robbie Smith and centre Danny McCluskey.

    Late in the game Arnold hit back with an interception try but it was the double-chasing Ayr who had the last word when replacement forward Gregor Henry barged over for an unconverted try to make the final score 51-12 as the west coast side progressed to the fourth round of the competition.

    Grammar’s next game is away to Selkirk on February 11 when they go back to the struggle of attempting to stay in National 1.

    Aberdeen Rugby: Craig Shepherd; Doug Russell, Matthew Arnold, Alex Ratcliffe (c), Calum Ruxton; Tom Aplin, Jake Gray; Ross Anderson, Fergus McKenzie, Colin Neilson; Aaron Robertson, Robin Cessford; Christian Brew, Dom Wallen, Lance Tallet.

    Replacements: Shane Clark, Chris Jollands, Andy Little, Jordan Robertson.

    Ayr: Grant Anderson; Richard Dalgleish, Danny McCluskey, Frazier Climo, Jamie Bova; Paddy Dewhirst, Harry Warr; George Hunter, Robbie Smith, Adam Prentice; Craig Stevenson, Rob McAlpine; Blair McPherson, Lewis Anderson, Peter McCallum (c).

    Replacements: David Young, Steven Longwell, Gregor Henry, Graham Hunter, Ross Curle.


  6. Aberdeen Rugby 26 Falkirk 29

    Aberdeen Grammar were dragged back near the relegation danger zone at Rubislaw on Saturday when a last-gasp Falkirk drop goal condemned the Granite City club to defeat.

    Once again, the Rubislaw men contributed to their demise in failing to defend a 19-point lead built up in a first-half display of domination. But, if the former Caithness player’3 long-range drop goal proved to be a sickener, a thoroughly poor refereeing performance form Steven Turnbull also contributed to the demise of the home side.

    When Turnbull carded home hooker Fergus McKenzie just before the hour mark, it was a game-changing decision. At that point Grammar led 26-11 and looked set for a maximum points win. The Rubislaw club officials were at pains not to criticise Turnbull, though the vociferous home supporters were keen to point out that the whistler had got the new high tackle law wrong.

    The tackle resulted in 10 minutes in the sin bin for the former Garioch player and Falkirk took full advantage of his absence, scoring two tries to come within three points of the home total. They then went on to tie the scores through a Brims penalty and then took the lead with the same player’s sumptuous drop goal.

    Turnbull seemed out of his depth as the match progressed, failing to communicate with his own touch judges on key plays.

    Grammar started so brightly, running in three tries in the opening 30 minutes from Conor Lavery, Sam Knudson and Dominic Wallen to which centre Tom Aplin added two conversions to lead 19-0.

    Fourth-placed Falkirk came to their senses to score an unconverted try, touched down by flanker Andrew McNab just before half-time.

    Immediately after the break, Falkirk stand-off Liam Brims kicked two penalties to close the gap to 19-11 only for the powerful Aplin to make it 26-11 with a try and a conversion.

    Mayhem then ruled after the dismissal of McKenzie, as first Jake Eaglesham and then winger Gary Dempsey breached the Grammar line.

    Brims converted one before closing out the game with his dramatic kicks.

    Grammar captain Alex Ratcliffe said: “We were disappointed to lose but I was proud of the players. Had this been in November we would have folded, but we kept going, and had to settle for two losing bonus points. We” stay up.”

    Grammar have slipped to ninth place but are seven points clear of the relegation places.

    © Jack Nixon

    Aberdeen Rugby: Conor Lavery; Doug Russell, Alex Ratcliffe (c), Tom Aplin, Calum Ruxton; Sam Knudson, Jake Gray; Rob Ellinson, Fergus McKenzie, Colin Neilson; Aaron Robertson, Robin Cessford; Christian Brew, Dominic Wallen, Chris Jollands.

    Replacements: Ross Anderson, Conall Howard, Matt McCall, Lance Tallett, Matt Arnold.

    Falkirk: Glen Faulds; Jacob Adamson, Angus Rennie, Andrew Hamilton, Gary Dempsey; Liam Brims, Harry Russell (c); Kris Burney, Keith Slade, Lewis Skinner; Angus Inwood, Craig Hamilton; Gregor Brodie, Andrew McNab, Jake Eaglesham.

    Replacements: Andrew Gillespie, John McKenna, David Stoddart, Kyle Rowe, Craig Robertson.



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