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.


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