Match Reports

  1. Aberdeen Rugby 46 Jed-Forest 35

    berdeen Grammar’s long-suffering supporters were finally given a treat to take into the close season after their team turned in its most convincing performance of the campaign.

    The Rubislaw men have lost 16 of their 22 league fixtures but came good on Saturday with a 46-35 home victory against Jed-Forest.

    Talk of a possible merger with Aberdeenshire was put on the back burner as Grammar ran in seven tries, three of which were scored by winger Grant Walker.

    The veteran was the most outstanding player on show, inspiring and cajoling his young team-mated who also rose to the occasion in Grammar’s final game of the season.

    Jed-Forest ran in five tries of their own, this despite being 10 players short on duty in a sevens tournament at Langholm.

    Head coach Ali O’Connor was delighted to have finished the season on a high and said: “This was a great way to sign off, even if our defending was not good, there have been lots of positives in a difficult season.

    “Despite some poor performances, this team has stood up to be counted. The players have been a pleasure to work with.  I am proud to have had the privilege of coaching them. The youngsters will have learned from a roller-coaster season. Grant Walker has been a continual source of inspiration for them.”

    Grammar took the lead in two minutes when centre Tom Aplin kicked a penalty, though it took the home side until 18 minutes to score the first try of the afternoon – this despite playing with a strong wind – when Walker raced over. The same player then created chances for fellow winger Calum Ruxton, who jetted over the Jed line twice by which time the Border side had opened its account through centre Monty Mitchell who also scored two tries,  going on to complete his hat-trick in the second half.

    Centre Matt Arnold widened the gap to make it 25-14 for Grammar by half-time.

    The tries continued into the second half with scrum half Jake Gray leading the way to make it 32-14, only for the visitors to rally through tried from Mitchell, Blade Roff and Robbie Yourston, who kicked all five of his side’s conversions to lead 35-32.

    But the day belonged to Grammar, who killed off the game with two converted tries by the irrepressible Walker, making it 46-35.

    “These young players are great to play with, keeping me on my toes,” said the Grammar hat-trick scorer.

    © Jack Nixon

    Aberdeen Rugby: Doug Russell; Grant Walker, Matt Arnold, Tom Aplin, Calum Ruxton; Sam Knudson, Jake Gray; Ross Anderson, Fergus McKenzie, Shane Clark; Aaron Robertson, Matt McCall; Calum Sangster, Dom Wallen, Andy Little.

    Replacements: Yasseen Ahmanache, Tighearnan McLoughlin, Cameron Robertson, Bryn Perrott, Craig Shepherd.


  2. Dundee High Rugby 19 Aberdeen Rugby 12

    Aberdeen Grammar’s inability to take their chances came home to haunt them again on Saturday when they lost 19-12 away to Dundee High despite dominating their derby rivals.

    The strong wind was a major factor, leading to all the points coming from the side playing downwind.

    The home side turned round 19-0 to the good, although Grammar had a couple of opportunities to open their account early in the half.

    Ali O’Connor, the Grammar head coach, said: “Had we scored then, it would have given us a huge boost and almost certainly led to a different outcome. We also missed a couple of tackles which led to two tries but overall we played quite well, including some good performances from our youngsters.”

    Dundee scored two tries in the first 20 minutes and looking like being out of sight by half-time.. Centre Colin Strachan scored the first in 12 minutes and then former Grammar player Ali Mackie bulldozed over the visitors line. Both were converted by centre Fraser McKay.

    Worse was to come in 26 minutes when Mackie plunged over for his second try.

    Grammar then displayed some steel, taking the play to the home side and did not concede any further points before half-time, giving the Rubislaw side every chance after the break.

    A mazy, determined run from winger Calum Ruxton early in the second period deserved better but, despite constant pressure, it took Grammar until the 70th minute to open their account when Doug Russell raced over after a neat kick ahead from the excellent Sam Knudson, though the stand off missed the conversion.

    A stream of second half penalties should have led to more Grammar points as Dundee tried to slow down the game.

    There was time for the Aberdeen side to grab a losing bonus when captain and centre took advantage of hesitancy in the home defence to score under the posts, giving Knudson the easiest of kicks, making it 19-12, but leaving veteran winger Grant Walker frustrated and disappointed.

    “We did enough to win but lacked the necessary composure – the story of our season. We will just have to take it out on Jed-Forest in our last game of the season,” he said.

    © Jack Nixon

    Aberdeen Rugby: Doug Russell; Grant Walker, Alex Ratcliffe (c), Tom Aplin, Calum Ruxton; Sam Knudson, Jake Gray; Rob Ellinson, Fergus McKenzie, Colin Neilson: Aaron Robertson, Shane Clark: Ethan Murray, Robin Cessford, Dom Wallen.

    Replacements: Alex McLeod, Calum Sangster, Ewan Grindlay, Craig Shepherd, Duncan Ruxton, Tommy Morrison.



  3. Edinburgh Accies 60 Aberdeen Rugby 10

    Aberdeen Grammar have set themselves the target of winning their last two remaining fixtures in National 1 in a bid to equal last season’s points total and erase the pain of a 10-try defeat away at Edinburgh Accies on Saturday.

    Head coach Ali O’Connor was disappointed with his team’s display in a one-sided encounter.

    He said: “Not only did we lose badly but on a day when little went right for us we also picked up injuries to three key players but there were positives.

    “Our young players stepped up to the mark, including winger Duncan Ruxton, who made his first start for the club, and prop Shane Clark. We now need to beat Dundee High and Jed-Forest to give our season some gloss.”

    The three players who were injured are flanker Dom Wallen, centre Tom Aplin and number eight Christian Brew. All are doubtful for the final two fixtures of a season which has seen the Rubislaw side struggle to avoid relegation, winning only five of 20 games. The Aberdonians were under the cosh for most of the game, having only a lone first-half penalty from Aplin in answer to six tries from the Raeburn Place side. Accies are now in a play-off with Hawick to decide who claims the last remaining place in the Premiership.

    Grammar fared better in the second half, curtailing the Edinburgh side to four tried, while winger Calum Ruxton scored a fine try, converted by Sam Knudson.

    But the day belonged to Accies, leaving the visitors to lick their wounds as they start preparing for a trip to derby rivals Dundee High on April 15.

    © Jack Nixon




  4. 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.


  5. 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.


  6. 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.






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