Match Reports

  1. 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

  2. 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

     

  3. Aberdeen Grammar 31 Stewart’s Melville 14

    Aberdeen Grammar kept their trophy ambitions on track with a comfortable 31-14 win in the last 16 of the National League Cup against Stewart’s Melville.

    Ewan Stewart, one of the big successes at the Rubislaw club this season, sees no reason why Grammar can’t go all the way.

    The 22-year-old, who arguably is one of the best second row ball carriers in National League 1, said: “This is a competition we can win and although it doesn’t carry the kudos of the final being at Murrayfield, we should be targeting it as a great opportunity for the club.”

    Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor was also happy to have progressed to the last eight, where they could meet Caley rivals Highland.

    He said: “I’m very pleased with our performance.

    “Despite the heavy going, we were determined to play our own brand of fast attacking rugby.

    “We certainly achieved this objective.

    “I was particularly pleased with our defence as they stepped up to the mark when it mattered in the second half.

    “In particular, I thought our forwards, Alex Dravitski and Chris Jollands, were outstanding.

    “But our real focus must now be in getting a top half finish in National League 1.

    “The Cup can look after itself, although it would be a nice bonus for us.”

    Grammar made an impressive start to the game, effectively putting the tie out of the reach of their Edinburg visitors in the first half.

    They moved into the lead after 10 minutes when, after a line-out near the Stewart;s line, captain and stand-off Sam Knudson nipped over for a try converted by full back Bryn Perrott.

    Despite dictating most of the play, it took the home side another 15 minutes to add to their tally after a pick and drive from the home pack, finished off by lock Dravitski.

    The conversion from Perrott was just short, but at 12-0 the Aberdonians were in command.

    It was no surprise when they pushed further ahead in 32 minutes when Knudson and winger Doug Russell combined beautifully to send hooker Jasper Mowatt in for a try converted by Perrott to make the half-time score 19-0.

    Grammar took advantage of their commanding lead by introducing their replacement bench but before they could properly regroup, the visitors popped up for a converted try.

    Grammar had an immediate response from centre Tom Aplin, who strolled over after fine work from Knudson, to which Perrott added the extras, followed three minutes later by a fifth try from Perrott to end the game as a contest at 31-7.

    The match petered out after that, but the Inverleith men had the last word with their second try of the afternoon, though it is Grammar who are in the hat for this week’s draw.

    O’Connor’s focus now is getting his best team out for this weekend’s home game against Musselbugh, who are in second place and four places above Grammar.

    The Rubislaw head coach added: “We owe them one after losing a game down there that we really should have won.”

    © Jack Nixon

  4. Jed-Forest 24 Aberdeen Grammar 24

    Aberdeen Grammar defied their firmest critics with a fighting comeback to draw their National League 1 game with leaders Jed – Forest, inspiring head coach Ali O’Connor to claim, it had felt more like a famous win on Border soil.

    “Trailing 24 – 3 well into the second half, we dug deep to pull off a remarkable result. Even at two points in arrears, full back Bryn Perrott’s conversion looked in doubt, but some how his kick from the touchline crept over to give us an outstanding outcome. Our defending was just tremendous, considering it has not been one of our main weaknesses in the first half of the season. We scarcely missed a tackle once we got on the front foot. Anyone who writes us off after this performance, does not know the strength of character in the team,” said a delighted O’Connor. 

    But while Perrott was the kicker of the day, it was replacement winger Jack Burnett who was try scoring hero of the Riverside Park win, taking the final pass of Craig Shepherd after a magnificent 20 phase build up in the last minute of pulsating game, which Jed knocked off the top slot of the division.

    In a tightly fought game, the Border side led by a lone Scott Munro penalty at half time after which the home side pushed on for what looked to be a certain victory, given a three burst, taking them into an apparently unassailable 24 – 3 lead.

    Grammar had other ideas, hitting back with two splendid tries from flanker Chris Jollands who underlined his value to the Rubislaw side, storming through with excellent support play from his pack to take the game down to the wire. 

    Perrott played his part, converting both touchdowns, and at 24 – 17 it was game on going into the closing stages, and its dramatic conclusion.

    On this form, it is hard to know what to make of the in and out form of Aberdeen Grammar who will now take a break from the hurly burly of the league, turning their attention instead to the League Cup  on Saturday when they meet Stewart’s Melville of National League 2 who will no doubt have looked at the Jed – Forest result and asked where did that come from. A trip to Rubislaw will now be the last thing the Edinburgh side will now want.

    But Saturday’s result came with a warning Grammar president Jim Rae who said:” This was a great performance, but let’s not get carried away. There’s almost half the season left in which to secure a top half place in the league which must be our first priority. I am, however, delighted to have witnessed such an amazing, controlled fight back. It takes some of the pain of our humiliating defeat at home to Cartha Queens Park two weeks ago out of our system.”

    © Jack Nixon

  5. Dundee High 13 Aberdeen Rugby 33

    Aberdeen Grammar roared back to form in the all Caley derby in Dundee where they held off a spirited Dundee High fight back, earning the praise of head coach Ali O’Connor who described the performance full of ”character” enabling the Rubislaw side to surge back into the top half of National League 1 at the midway point of their campaign.

    ”It was good to get a win after the acute disappointment of last week’s defeat at home to Cartha Queens Park, but it was hard fought as High came back strongly at us just after half time, but thanks to some great tackling, inspired by Chris Jollands and Alex Dravitski, we went on to secure the game. We now have a week to prepare before we meet league leaders Jed – Forest in the Borders,” said O’Connor.

    Captain Sam Knudson was equally relieved to have put behind them the fiasco of losing out last week to one of the league strugglers, and said: ”This was just the response we needed. Our attitude was right just from the start. We even managed to close the door on High when they threatening to take over the game. I thought Jordan Robertson had a great game in our front row.”

    The Grammar captain and stand off was a key player throughout, leading his line with authority, while scoring a try for his side that had seven changes from the one who lost to Cartha.

    The visitors had the best of the early exchanges, racing into a 14 – 0 lead through a penalty try and fine effort from Knudson, both converted by full back Bryn Perrott who went on the slot for of his four out of five conversions, and generally have a solid game in the number 15 jersey.

    Up to half – time, the Aberdeen held sway, taking the game to the homesters when the opportunity presented itself.

    All that was to change when the sides turned around in the unfamiliar setting of Alloway Place, the pitch of Morgan Academy FP’s after Mayfield had been deemed unfit to play on due to repair work. High found their feet, and in a 10-minute spell after the break, scoring a try, touched down by Rory Aitken, and converted by Alan McKay who also kicked two penalties in the home side’s period of dominance, making it game on 14 – 13.

    Grammar weathered the passion of the home side, going on to take command of the game, scoring three more tries, attributed to wingers Craig Shepherd and Nat Coe, but it was the industrious Jollands who ended the game on high for the Rubislaw outfit. Perrott kicked two of the conversions, making a good away day, rewarded with five tries, although they will face a much more severe challenge of a Border side on Saturday who will be keen to avenge the 10 try thrashing handed to them by Grammar on the first day of the season since when have soared to the top of the league, losing only once more at home to Musselburgh.  

    © Jack Nixon

     

     

  6. Aberdeen Rugby 24 Cartha Queens Park 37

    Aberdeen Grammar were “humbled” by lowly Cartha Queens Park according to their number eight Greig Ryan following Saturday’s 37-24 reverse at Rubislaw.

    Ryan was one of the few players in the Grammar team who turned in a decent showing in a dire, depressing and disorganised performance against a Glasgow side who, until Saturday, had won only one of nine fixtures.

    In a scathing assessment of his side’s display, Ryan said: “This was just unacceptable. We were simply not at the races in the first 20 minutes when Cartha ran over us, scoring 27 points while we moved aside to let them through. Our backs were never in the game. What happened to our game plan? All I saw was panic.”

    Iain Stanger former hooker and long-time servant at Rubislaw, now forwards coach, was standing in for head coach Ali O’Connor, who was at the wedding of player Ross Anderson. He endorsed the comments of the frustrated Ryan, adding: “This was the worst first-half performance I have ever seen from a Grammar side in all my years at the club. There were very few positives, although I would give pass marks to forwards Greig, Chris Jollands, Andrew Cook and Ewan Stewart. Granted we had a number of key players missing but we should be able to live with that, especially when playing the bottom side.”

    Cartha lock Michael Robertson said: “We played particularly well in the opening 20 minutes but expected much, much more from them.”

    Playing into the strong wind in the first half was always going to be a big challenge for the home side but no one in the shocked crowd could have predicted the visitors would run in four unanswered tries in the opening 20 minutes.

    First over was scrum-half Thomas Davidson in five minutes when he was allowed the freedom of the home 22 to run in for a try, converted by centre Wayne Burrows.

    Worse was to come in a 10-minute spell during which Cartha winger Jacob Adamson helped himself to a remarkable hat-trick of touchdowns, one of which was converted by Burrows who also found time to kick a penalty in the midst of the mayhem, giving the Dumbreck side a handsome 27-0 lead. Grammar finally woke up but only had a lone, unconverted try from winger Calum Ruxton to show for their efforts, and it was the visitors who had the last word in the half when Burrows slotted a long-range penalty to give Cartha a 30-5 lead at half-time.

    The hosts made a better fist of the second half, scoring two early tries through captain Sam Knudson and prop Colin Neilson, one of which was converted by full back Bryn Perrott, but they never looked likely to overhaul Cartha. The game petered out as a contest when Peter Hollier, the Cartha number eight, rumbled over in 50 minutes for a try to which stand off Gregor Davidson added the extras. The home side scored a fourth try in 70 minutes when prop Cook faced over for a try converted by Perrott but it was too little and far too late for a comeback from the Rubislaw men.

    © Jack Nixon

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