1st XV Match Reports

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.