Match Reports

  1. Falkirk 0 Aberdeen Rugby 62

    Aberdeen Grammar moved smoothly into the semi-finals of the National League Cup, easing past National League 2 side Falkirk who, although game, were not able to contain the classy Rubislaw side who breached the home line 10 times.

    Head coach, Ali O’Connor who was realistic enough to recognise his charges would face much sterner opposition in the semi-final on March 30 when they take on National League 1 opponents Kelso in the Borders, but said: ”This was a good, convincing win, while serving as a good workout for our big league game away to Gala on March 2 which, if we win, should go a long way to ensuring we are in the top six, which given there is likely to be a new structure next season is vital to us. We played some great rugby once we got into our stride. In the second row Ewan Stewart’s ball carrying was particularly impressive. Andrew Cook had a great game in the front row, and Sean Mills was a standout at full back, making for a good day for us.”

    Grammar took time to get into their stride, which was not surprising, given the number of changes in personnel, including bringing Byrn Perrott into the stand-off berth to form a new partnership with Tommy Morrison. Once these two clicked, the Grammar line kicked into gear, leading to a first half lead of 19-0.

    Tries from winger Calum Ruxton, No 8 Greig Ryan and hooker Andrew Cook, two of which were converted by Perrott, put the Aberdeen side in easy street.

    The second half was pretty well one-way traffic, as Grammar turned on the style, running in seven tries based on good support play and strong running from in particular Stewart, and centre Nat Coe, and with Ryan directing operations in midfield in harmony with Perrott, the outcome was always going to be a painful one for Falkirk.

    Perrott was always available when not providing, resulting in him nipping over the home line twice in as many minutes before being replaced by Ciaran Wood as O’Connor rang the changes. Further tries for Wood (2), centre Murray Mitchell, Mills, and flanker Alex Dravitski merely underlined Grammar’s overall supremacy.

    The four second half conversions were equally shared by Perrott and Mills.

    Grammar will now play Kelso who were comfortable 40-5 winners at home to Kirkcaldy, although a trip to Poynder Park should hold no fears for O’Connor’s men, having beaten the Border side twice on league business, racking up 112 points in the process, not that the Grammar head coach will be taking anything for granted. 

    © Jack Nixon



  2. Aberdeen Rugby 42 GHA 19

    Aberdeen Grammar moved into the top six of National League 1 after ruthlessly destroying third placed GHA in a second half in which the Glasgow scarcely put a foot in the Aberdeen half, while running in three sumptuous tries of their own in a totally dominating 40 minutes.

    The afternoon had in fact started badly for the home side who seemed to take longer to settle on the secondary pitch at Rubislaw after the two sides agreed the main pitch was unsafe to play on after the recent frost.

    GHA raced into a five-point lead in four minutes when full back John O’Brien raced through a non – existent home defence to touch down in the corner for a try scrum half George Baird was unable to convert.

    Stung into action, Grammar hit back in 10 minutes when after a series of rucks, No 8 Greig Ryan took control, as he was to do for most of the afternoon, plunging over for a try that full back Bryn Perrott was able to convert.

    But despite taking a 7 – 5 lead, Grammar still looked vulnerable against the slick, enterprising visiting backs who regained the lead after winger Aaran Purewal took advantage of poor home tacking to run in under the posts in 14 minutes. The conversion by Baird made it 12 – 7, only for Grammar to retaliate through the excellent Chris Jollands who sliced through the static GHA defence and with Perrott doing the business with the boot a hectic first 20 minutes came to an end with Grammar 14 – 12 to the good.

    Not surprisingly the pace of the game eased going into the break, although both sides managed a try each just before half time, firstly James Sutherland, the GHA No 8 plundered the Grammar line for a converted try, only for Ryan to score his second of the afternoon, right on the stroke of half – time to give his side a 21 – 19 lead after Perrott had stroked over the conversion, but with the strong wind in their faces, there were fears that the Rubislaw side might not cope.

    These fears were quickly allayed, as astonishingly GHA failed to cash in, dropping out of the game as an attacking force, while the Ryan and Jollands show got purposefully under way, although the latter had a ten minute break late in the first half when he fell foul of referee Lee Fish who had a poor afternoon, failing to make allowances for the dreadful conditions which demanded a more sympathetic response from the official.

    But while the two back rowers were the mainstays of the home attack, captain and stand Sam Knudson had a fine game, as did winger Nat Coe who scored two second half tries, but it was the try of centre Tom Aplin which sent the Rubislaw faithful home happy when Ryan picked up the ball on the half way line after a stuttering move in the back division to send Aplin over to round off a fine afternoon. Perrott added the extras to all three tries, making for a 100% record with the boot.

    Jollands played down his major contribution to game, but said: ”This is a good side who are growing in stature as the season progresses. We got it together after a shaky start. We can now go on and capture a high placing in the league, but first we have a break, followed by a National League Cup game at Falkirk on February 16. But it’s our final league position which matters. We’re on the way to achieving a high one after today.”

    Grammar’s next National League 1 game will be at Gala on March 2, followed by games at home to Hamilton and Dundee, and a trip to Glasgow where they meet Cartha Queens Park who are all in the bottom four of the division.

    © Jack Nixon


  3. Marr 33 Aberdeen Rugby 7

    Aberdeen Grammar’s hopes of a high finish in National League 1 were badly dented in Ayrshire where Marr took full advantage of the visitors having a player sin binned midway through the first half leaving the Rubislaw side struggling to get back into the game after conceding three quick tries.

    When Grammar winger Nat Coe was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on, it signalled 10 minutes of misery for the Aberdeen side who did not help themselves with some poor defending, leading to the home side going into the half time break 26 – 7 to the good, and well on their way to victory.

    Head coach Ali O’Connor conceded his side had lost control of the game during the absence of Coe, but said: ”Up until that point we had been competing well, and then again for a 15 minute spell after half time we did everything but score. If we had managed two tries then we would have been right back in the game. Out defending let us down in the first half which is so disappointing after last week’s excellent all-round show against Selkirk. We will just have to get back on track at home to GHA next week.”

    But while Grammar competed well after shipping four tries to trail 26 – 0 on the half hour mark, scoring a fine try through their first-class flanker Chris Jollands, they badly missed the leadership of No 8 Greig Ryan and the ball carrying skills of Ewan Stewart in the second row. With these two missing the normally on fire Grammar pack, lacked the drive required to topple a team of the calibre of league leaders Marr.

    The home touchdowns were generally soft and avoidable, while the lone Grammar try was well worked and was converted by centre Tom Aplin.

    It was generally honours even in the second half with the Rubislaw creating numerous try scoring opportunities but unable to find the composure to breach the home line.

    The Ayrshire side managed one of their own when Liam McLauglin touched down to put the seal on the game, leaving the Grammar coaching team to reflect on wasted chances.

     © Jack Nixon

  4. Aberdeen Rugby 66 Kelso 7

    Aberdeen Grammar ran in 11 tries against a depleted Kelso side, eventually winning 66-7 in a one-sided affair.

    The P&J match report and photos from the game will follow.

  5. Kirkcaldy 25 Aberdeen Rugby 27

    Aberdeen Grammar kept themselves on target for a top four place in National League 1, winning a thriller in which they and their gutsy never say die opponents Kirkcaldy were a credit to the game for the entire 80 minutes.

    The Rubislaw side just shaded it, holding off the determined Fifers who gallantly came back in the last play of the game to earn a losing bonus point against a Grammar side who would almost certainly have lost this kind of game earlier in the season, as acknowledged by head coach Ali O’Connor. “Kirkcaldy played well, pushing us throughout, but we had the edge when it mattered.

    Picking up a maximum five points is always a bonus at Beveridge Park. The opposition were relentless, keeping coming back at us whenever we looked like taking control, but it was good game which went right down to the wire. We had the steel to see it through. We can now look forward to another big challenge next week when we face Kelso who had a good win over Selkirk today. Even with home advantage it is going to be tough,” said O’Connor.

    Grammar’s new found faith in themselves shone through in the shape of stand in full back Sean Mills who had an outstanding game, capping his return to the game with a try, and generally looking the part in after taking the place of Bryn Perrott who was not available, and a hard act to follow. His efforts on the difficult underfoot conditions, earning him the man of the match award.

    But it was Kirkcaldy who hit the ground running in eight minutes with a converted try, only for Grammar to hit back immediately through lock Robin Cessford when he got himself in the right place to get his side off the mark. Centre Tom Aplin missed the conversion, while his opposite number Alex Black made no mistake with his penalty effort two minutes later to give his side a 10 – 5 lead which Aplin reduced with one of his own. Inspired by this success Grammar surged back through winger Craig Shepherd who cleverly set up prop Calum Reddish for an unconverted try, giving the Aberdeen side a narrow 13 – 10 lead at half time.

    Kirkcaldy hit back early in the second half with a penalty and an unconverted try, and at 18 – 13 to the good, looked like taking over the bruising encounter, only for Mills to show his class with a fine run, ending in a touchdown to which Aplin added the extras.

    The tenacious Aplin sealed the game with a try in the 73 minute, adding the conversion to give the visitors a 27 – 18 lead, but it was the Fifers who had the last word in the final minute when flanker

    Dayle Turner raced over for a converted try, giving his side a precious and deserved losing bonus point in a first class game.

    Grammar for their part were good value for the win, picking up their 11th try bonus point in 14 outings, no mean feat for a side lying sixth in the table.

    © Jack Nixon

  6. Aberdeen Rugby 47 Musselburgh 28

    Aberdeen Grammar handed their supporters some early festive cheer, running in seven sumptuous tries against a good Musselburgh side who once they had recovered from being 28 points down after half an hour, made a spirited fight back, scoring four of their own in a highly entertaining match.

    The win extends the Rubislaw side’s unbeaten run to four games, giving the faithful a clear indication that their favourites had put the horror show of a month ago against bottom side Cartha Queens Park well and truly behind them. A situation which puzzled head coach Ali O’Connor who said: ”Once again we have turned in a first-class performance, resembling the 10 try thrashing we gave Jed-Forest on the first day of the season, but the question I shall be asking in training next week is: “Why can’t it be like this every week?” We need to attain a higher level of consistency, if we are to claim a top four place in this league.”

    Centre Tom Aplin, who opened the scoring in six minutes after a fine exchange of passes between backs and forwards, acknowledged the contribution the home pack had made to the game when he said: ”They provided us with the platform to attack Musselburgh right from the start, and although they came back at us, we were never going to lose. We now need to build on this and take getting into the into the top four as a priority. We have two possible five pointers coming up against Kirkcaldy and Kelso before Christmas.”

    Part of the success of the afternoon was due to the return of key players, including No 8 Greig Ryan who had a stormer after shrugging off a calf injury, as did hooker Andrew Cook, although prop Matthew Schosser was the stand-out in the pack, having clearly benefited from being with the German national team in its bid to reach the finals of the World Cup in Japan in 2019. The hard-working German was not only a solid influence in the home scrum, but also managed to pop up in the loose, enabling him to pick up a try in the second half at a time when the East Lothian side were threatening to come back into the 11 try game.

    The first half hour belonged exclusively to Grammar with captain and stand off Sam Knudson, leading the line with authority, enabling Aplin, Ryan, flanker Alec Dravitski and prop Calum Reddish to score tries, all converted by full back Bryn Perrott (2) and Aplin (2).

    Musselburgh hit back with one of their own, scored by flanker Jack Anderson, converted by stand off Danny Owenson to make it 28-7 at half time.

    The honours were pretty well even in the second half with each side scoring three tries, all converted bar the final touchdown of the day which fell to another of the home returners centre Murray Mitchell, back from a spell with the Scottish National Rugby League side. Grammar’s other two were touched down by Schosser and Knudson, while the visitors’ efforts were attributed to centre Ruairidh Young, flanker Cameron Pryde and a second for Anderson, all of which were added to by Owenson.

    Over the piece a game to savour, especially given the fact that neither club yet knows in which structure they will be playing next season thanks to the stunning silence from Murrayfield.

    © Jack Nixon


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