Match Reports

  1. Aberdeen Grammar 57 GHA 47

    Aberdeen Grammar made it five wins in six starts in their first season back in the Premiership since 2013 in an eight-try win in a rollicking game of rugby.

    The visitors from Glasgow managed to score seven touchdowns.

    Ali O’Connor, the Grammar head coach, was appreciative of his side’s free-running performance. But O’Connor was less impressed by the Aberdeen team’s midfield defending.

    He said: “We played some fine attacking rugby but our defending was woeful. We’ll need to improve for our away trip to play second-paced Currie at Malleny Park or else our great start to the season will count for nothing.

    “It was a great game to watch but a nightmare for defence coaches. In fairness, GHA just kept coming back at us. I thought lock Robin Cessford was our standout. He was in the thick of everything, even tackling. His two tries were a just reward for all his effort.”

    Cessford was pleased to be on the winning side, but said: “At 36-12 at half-time the idea was to deny them a score in the second half. Instead we gave away a further 35 points.

    “It’s a win, although I should have had a hat-trick of tries.

    “The referee’s decision to chalk off my third with the last play of the game for a forward pass was a bit harsh, but I’ll settle for two, although we need to address our defending for our trip to Currie.”

    GHA took the lead in three minutes when winger Jackson Baillie took advantage of an exposed right flank to score the first of his three tries, which was unconverted, only for Will Alton to nip over after fine work from his fellow forwards.

    Centre Tom Aplin kicked the first of seven out of eight successful kicks at goal to give his side the lead they never surrendered for the rest of the game. Thereafter the score came thick and fast at the rate of one every five minutes with Grammar’s centre Murray Mitchell leading the way with a hat-trick of his own, including a great run from the halfway line, selling an outrageous dummy on the way to the line.

    Not surprisingly Grammar’s prolific try scorer, winger Nathan Brown, got in the act, adding his eighth and ninth tries of the campaign to the tally.

    Although the Braidholm side got one back before the break, at 36-12 it looked to be curtains for the visitors. But with the chaotic defending continuing, the game was kept alive. Cessford got two tries but they were cancelled out by GHA full back Grant Mollinson with a brace of his own.

    With Aplin kicking like a dream, as well as GHA stand-off Jack Anderson, it was no wonder the final tally edged past the century mark in a thrilling encounter for the spectators.

    But while it was great to watch, there will need to be a different mindset in defence if Grammar are to come away with a win in Currie on Saturday.

    In the meantime, at the top of the league, Marr kept their 100% record intact after a 38-13 win at home to Selkirk. Marr remain six points ahead of the Rubislaw side.

    © Jack Nixon

    Aberdeen Grammar: Sean Mills: Nathan Brown, Murray Mitchell. Tom Aplin; Sam Knudson, Jamie Troup; Calum Reddish, Ben Inglis, Ross Anderson; Nat Coe, Robin Cessford; Chris Jollands, Will Alton, Greig Ryan.

    Replacements: Matthias Schosser, Andre Cook, Jonny Spence, Tommy Morrison, Craig Shepherd.

    GHA: Grant Mollinson; Jordan Craig, Charlie Longeran, Jack Reilly, Jackson Baillie; Jack Anderson, George Baird; Tony Brogan, Hamish Clark, Michael Fox; Adam Barnett, Adam Kerr; Milan Marinkovic, Mike Ryan, Luke McCutcheon.

    Replacements: Luis Barron, Sean Fisher, Elliot Hardie, Andrew Gillman, Andy Scott.

  2. Musselburgh 32 Aberdeen Grammar 38

    Aberdeen Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor paid tribute to his forwards who dominated in the mud and rain at Musselburgh, scoring five of the six tries in the 38-32 win.

    The victory keeps the Rubislaw side in third place in the Premiership, six points behind leaders Marr.

    O’Connor said: “Not for the first time, there were some big performances form the forwards. Robin Cessford was immense.

    “We relied on our pack to get us on to the front foot and in the conditions today that was really important.

    “We put the pressure on Musselburgh, forcing them into making mistakes, earning us a try bonus point, and enabling us to go into next week’s game against GHA with optimism.”

    The Stoneyhill side opened the scoring with a try in nine minutes when winger Sandy Watt nipped over, giving scrum-half Danny Owenson the easiest of kicks.

    Grammar prop Ross Anderson drove over for a try from short range, converted by centre Tom Aplin, to level at 7-7.

    Home winger Gregor Tait outpaced the Aberdeen defence before his opposite number did the same at the other end, giving him his seventh try of the campaign.

    Both were converted, but it was Musselburgh who oved ahead with an Owenson penalty which only served to spark a burst of scoring from the visitors.

    First over was Cessford with two fine dashes to the line, a second from Anderson and a final effort from flanker Chris Jollands, two of which were converted by Aplin.

    In the midst of the Grammar scoring spree, the hosts kept in the game with touchdowns from Tait and lock McKinstry, and a penalty from Owenson.

    Grammar club captain Doug Russell underlined the contribution made by Cessford and No 8 Greig Ryan, saying: “These two were standouts on a day made for forwards.”

    © Jack Nixon

    Musselburgh: James Ferguson; Sandy Watt, Rory Smith, Rory Watt, Gregor Tait; Paul Cunningham, Danny Owenson; Robert Stoss, Paddy Portsmouth, Colin Arthur; Willliam Fleming, Graeme McKinstry; Cameron Pryde,Max Outram.

    Replacements: Euan Bonthron, Jack Haynes, Calum Champion, Aidan Reddick, Tom Foley.

    Aberdeen Grammar: Tommy Morrison; Nathan Brown, Murray Mitchell, Tom Aplin, Doug Russell; Sam Knudson, Jamie Troup; Calum Reddish, Ben Inglis, Ross Anderson; Nat Coe, Robin Cessford; Chris Jollands, Will Alton, Greig Ryan.

    Replacements: Jonny Spence, Andrew Cook, Dominic Wallen, Mungo Somerville, Craig Shepherd.

  3. Glasgow Hawks 35 Aberdeen Grammar 19

    Aberdeen Grammar were brought down to earth with a bump by Glasgow Hawks at Balgray, despite winger Nathan Brown scoring a hat-trick of tries.

    The Rubislaw side were never seriously in the game after losing three key players in the first half of the encounter.Head coach Ali O’Connor conceded injuries to prop Callum Reddish, lock Robin Cessford and No 8 Greig Ryan created major problems for the visitors.

    He said: “Early changes always disrupt but we’ve got to got to have enough faith in players coming in for them to do a better job than they did.

    “We’ve got to be able to adapt and carry on playing our game but the whole of the second half it just wasn’t quite there.

    “Credit to Hawks. They stepped it up and took their chances but we are bitterly disappointed with our lack of composure. “Our error and penalty count were through the roof. Last week was a positive step. This week was two back, so we’ll need to regroup and come back stronger for the trip to Selkirk.”

    Grammar took advantage of the home side being reduced to 14 men after Gary Strain was sin-binned for a high tackle on centre Nat Coe when stand-off and captain Sam Knudson ran back a loose kick, enabling flanker Chris Jollands, Ryan and Cessford to set up winger Brown for his fourth try of the season.

    Hawks tied up the scores through centre Matthew Stewart, only for the Rubislaw side to intercept a loose pass, allowing Brown to race in at the corner for a try that was converted by centre Tom Aplin.

    The home side levelled with another try from Stewart, which was added to by stand-off Liam Brims, a former Caithness player, to make it 12-12 at half-time. Brims kicked an early penalty to give his side the lead for the first time but Grammar surged back, with 19-year-old Brown demonstrating his footballing skills by dribbling past the bemused home defence for his third touchdown of the afternoon and a remarkable six in only three games.

    Aplin kicked the extras, giving the visitors hope of a win at 19-15. However, from that point on it was all Hawks, who cashed in on the reshuffled Grammar pack by running in two more tries, scored by hooker Paul Cairncross, and a last-minute bonus try ran in by full-back Callum Harrison.

    The reliable Brims kicked two more penalties between the touchdown, while converting the two tries, giving him a tally of 15 for the afternoon which belonged to the Hawks who had shrugged off last weekend’s 50-15 defeat at Selkirk where Grammar will be the visitors on Saturday.

    The good news for the Rubislaw side is Selkirk were beaten 34-17 by Currie Chieftains at Malleny Park.

    © Jack Nixon

    Glasgow Hawks: Callum Harrison; Chris McCarron, Matthew Stewart, David Milne, Murray Godsman; Liam Brims, Kristian Kay; Lyall Archer, Paul Cairncross, Gary Strain; Sione Halafihi, Andrew Kirkland; Gavin Armstrong, Struan Dow, Ryan Sweeney.

    Replacements: Paul Henderson, Ewan Rintoul, Sandy Greig, Max Preistly, Nathan Moffat.

    Aberdeen Grammar: Sean Mills; Nathan Brown, Nat Coe, Tom Aplin, Doug Russell; Sam Knudson, Tom Morrison; Calum Reddish, Jonny Spence, Matthias Schosser; Jordan Robertson, Robin Cessford; Chris Jollands, Will Alton, Greig Ryan.

    Replacements: Ross Anderson, Morgan Martin, Cameron Robertson, Patrick Ritchie, Bryn Perrott.

  4. Aberdeen Grammar 30 Edinburgh Accies 17

    Aberdeen Grammar returned to the Premiership after an absence of five years with a four-try flourish to get their campaign off to the best of starts against Edinburgh Accies.

    The visitors looked on course to win for the first hour of the game before the Rubislaw side came good to open the season with a victory.

    Head coach Ali O’Connor was delighted with a first league outing which yielded a try bonus point.

    He said: “We matched their physicality, which was vital to the outcome, but also played some first-class rugby enabling us to score four quality tries.

    “Once again there were some big shifts up front where Robin Cessford was immense and, with Chris Jollands and Greig Ryan dictating in the back row, we ended the game in total control after wrestling back the game in the second half.

    “Once again our new boy Nathan Brown was a star turn, adding two tries to the one he scored in the cup last week.”

    The head coach also had the luxury of being able to introduce two other new faces to the team as the game progressed, including bringing on scrum-half replacement Patrick Ritchie who won the approval of stand-off and captain Sam Knudson who said: “It’s not every game I have two partners.

    “Both Patrick and Tommy Morrison had good games, making for a great day all round”, he said.

    The Edinburgh side started the better, spreading the play wide at every opportunity, although it was the Rubislaw men who took the lead when lock Cessford broke clear, taking the play to the Accies line, and then being able to score in the corner. Centre Tom Aplin missed the difficult kick at goal.

    The Raeburn Place side hit back in the final 10 minutes of the half, scoring out wide twice through winger James Gordon and then flanker Patrick O’Sullivan, both superbly converted by stand-off James Loomes.

    Despite playing into the wind, Accies eased further into the lead two minutes into the second half when Loomes kicked a penalty, only to fade out of the game in the face of incessant pressure from Grammar.

    They added three more tries, first from the new hero of Rubislaw winger Nathan Brown, then centre Nat Coe, both converted by Aplin who also kicked a penalty to give the hosts a 25-17 lead.

    In the dying minutes Brown added his second, and his team’s fourth. That Aplin missed the conversion mattered little to the ecstatic home crowd.

    Grammar now go on the road in the rudest of health to face Glasgow Hawks, who lost 50-15 to Selkirk.

    © Jack Nixon

    Aberdeen Grammar: Sean Mills; Nathan Brown, Nat Coe, Tom Aplin, Doug Russell; Sam Knudson, Tommy Morrison; Calum Reddish, Ben Inglis, Matthias Schosser; Jordan Robertson, Robin Cessford; Chris Jollands, Will Alton, Greig Ryan.

    Replacements: Morgan Martin, Jonny Spence, Cameron Robertson, Patrick Ritchie, Bryn Perrott.

    Edinburgh Accies: Robert Wilson; Josh Pecquer, Neil Armstrong, Richard Mill, James Gordon; Jamie Loomes, Max Love; Shaun Gunn, Sean Crombie, Finlay Richardson; Declan Dinnen, Angus Inwood; Patrick O’Sullivan, Christopher Thomson, Ruairi Campbell.

    Replacements: Nick Hall, Daniel Winning, Jack Bruce, Mark Sinclair, Ruaridh Bonner.

  5. Aberdeen Grammar 15 Marr 32

    Aberdeen Grammar exited the Scottish Cup in the preliminary round thanks to a Marr side that came good in the last quarter of a quality game.

    Despite the 32-15 home defeat, Grammar head coach was delighted with his side’s display.

    He said: “There were so many positives for us to take into our first Premiership game against Edinburgh Accies on Saturday at Rubislaw.

    “Had we not been turned over early in the second half when pushing to increase our slim lead we might just have gone on to win.

    “We had our own standouts, including Nat Coe who normally plays on the wing, but had a great game at flanker. Our pack was outstanding.”

    In driving rain Grammar made the best of a strong wind in the first half to race into a 10-0 lead, scoring through prop Ross Anderson then replacement lock Jordan Robertson in 27 and 35 minutes.

    Grammar’s first half heroics were partially nullified by a late try from Marr hooker Oliver Rossi to make it 10-5 at half time, but against a near-gale force wind the home side looked against it, especially as Marr’s No 8 Benedict Grant tied the scores just after the break.

    Then, in 50 minutes, Greig Ryan broke out of his own 22 to release winger Nathan Brown for a 50-yard run to the line, setting up the possibility of a home win at 15-5.

    But as they pressed for another score, Marr centre Richard Dalgliesh made a length of the field try, Converted by stand-off Colin Sturgeon.

    From then it was all Marr; scoring two more tries through winger Scott Bickerstaff and full back Greg Montgomery, while Sturgeon added a conversion and a penalty to end up worthy winners.

    © Jack Nixon

    Aberdeen Grammar: Sean Mills; Nathan Brown, Doug Russell, Tom Aplin, Luke Murphy; Sam Knudson, Tom Morrison; Ross Anderson, Ben Inglis, Matthias Schosser; Lewis Govenlock, Cameron Robertson; Nat Coe, Will Alton, Greig Ryan.

    Replacements: Yaseen Ahmanache, Jordan Robertson, Paddy Mulholland, Calum Ruxton, Andrew Ovenstone.

    Marr: Greg Montgomery, Scott Bickerstaff, Richard Dalgliesh, Conor Bickerstaff, Jack Scott; Colin Sturgeon, Jack Preston; Brandon Sweet, Oliver Rossi, Calvin Henderson; Ewan Hamilton-Bulger, Cody Cunningham; Mackenzie Pearce, Robert brown, Benedict Grant.

    Replacements: Jamie Drummond, Curran McMillan, Callum Steel, Findlay Hazel, Gregor Paxton.

  6. Aberdeen Rugby 26 Highland 10

    Aberdeen Grammar prevailed in the all Caley encounter in the final of the National League Cup at Bridgehaugh where they had to come back from being 10 points down after 20 minutes to Highland in a full-on game in the blistering heat of Stirling.

    The game was never a classic, but did not lack for excitement and endeavour, spoiled only by a limited performance from referee John Shaw who never demonstrated the authority the highly competitive occasion demanded.

    Even the players were error-prone in the early stages, as both sides battled to end their campaigns with silverware to sit nicely with the promotions gained from in Grammar’s case National League 1 and in Highland’s National League 2

    In the end it was the more experienced and physical Aberdeen side who came through, with centre Tom Aplin proving to be a tour de force in defence and attack, and finally breaking Highland hearts with his side’s fourth and final try in the 65th minute of the game.

    The tone of the afternoon was set in the first minute when Highland’s veteran hooker Kevin Brown was involved in a touchline spat with the Rubislaw pack, but carried on to play a major part in the feisty start made by the Canal Park side.

    Highland were quickly into their stride, cashing in on the many errors made by a hesitant Grammar side who were also giving away a stream of penalties, so it was no surprise when stand off Rory Carson, who was involved in all things good for the Highlanders, stroked over a 26 yard penalty to take the lead in seven minutes.

    Lifted by this early score, the National League 2 side continued to dominate, increasing their lead to 10-0 when full back Rupeni Rokoduguni released flanker Callum Carson under the posts for a try, converted by Rory Carson. Grammar were spurred into action, scoring two tries in the space of three minutes, first when captain and stand off Sam Knudson put his half back partner Tom Morrison over the line, and then full back Bryn Perrott raced over after fine work by his fellow backs.

    With Perrott converting both touchdowns it was 14-10 with only 25 minutes on the clock after as hectic a start as you will see in any game.

    Not surprisingly, the pace of the game dropped, but there was still time before the break for Grammar’s Robin Cessford and Calum MacPherson of Highland to earn yellow cards for falling foul of referee Shaw, making all it to play for going into the second half.

    Grammar took control in the second half, denying their opponents ball, while scoring a penalty try on the back of incessant pressure, and then finally Aplin’s unconverted try, making it a relatively comfortable win, given the early heroics of Highland.

    Highland refused to give up, and in a late flurry were unlucky not to score, but the day and the cup belonged to Grammar.

    Head coach, Ali O’Connor was delighted to have landed the club’s first cup since winning the Integrated Trophy in 2003, but said: “We are really happy to have finished in such dominant style after Highland’s storming first 20 minutes.” Carson was disappointed, but bullish about his side’s performance and said: ”We did National League 2 proud today. It was a fast, but brutal game. In the end we couldn’t get enough ball. We’ve now got to lift the guys for our final league game away to Stewarts Melville.”

    And finally, an enthusiastic, even raucous, crowd made for a great atmosphere on a day which Caley’s best put on a show to be proud of.

    © Jack Nixon