Match Reports

  1. Marr 61 Aberdeen Grammar 7

    Aberdeen Grammar suffered a third successive defeat in the Premiership with a 61-7 reverse at Marr.

    The only consolation for the Rubislaw men was that they afterwards they had come up against the unbeaten league leaders on a day when they were at the top of their form.

    Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor said: “Full credit to Marr, they played very well and their execution was electric.

    “It was difficult to stay with them but we really stuck in after half-time.

    “We wanted to chase a try bonus point, which we didn’t get, although I am proud of our effort.

    “We’ll probably be all the better for this because Marr played the game at such high speed, it will give us the chance to learn from that.”

    O’Connor refused to use the injury crisis and non-availability of players as an excuse.

    He added: “The guys who came down are a pretty competitive team but we are probably struggling for balance, while getting used to playing with each other.

    “They stuck in well and, by and large, came away with the credit of never giving up.”

    But despite O’Connor’s brave defence of his charges, it was clear it was going to be almost impossible for Grammar to compete against the by far and away the best team in the league without the services of players of the quality of Chris Jollands, who is now in New Zealand, Robin Cessford and Nathan Brown, who were both injured, as well as their key organiser in the pack Greig Ryan, who was getting married at the weekend.

    There was, however, one moment of light relief for the Grammar bench when after conceding three early tries, centre Tom Aplin scored one of the best tries of the afternoon, rumbling all of 70 yards to score a fine individual try which he converted himself on what was an otherwise first half of one-way traffic to the Aberdeen line.

    Trailing 40-7 at the break, Grammar turned round set on closing the gap, only to find the Troon side equally determined to make their own case for more points, which they did through three more tries, all converted by their excellent stand-off Colin Sturgeon, who kicked eight of his none attempts at goal while successfully keeping his back division in the game and making life difficult for the Grammar line.

    Grammar will be on the road again on Saturday when they start the second half of the season with a game in Edinburgh whom they have already beaten 30-17 at Rubislaw in the first game of the season. The defeat means Grammar have dropped from second to fourth, only a point above a vastly improved Hawick team.

    Edinburgh Accies will go into the match with Grammar also looking to make amends after going down to a 35-17 defeat at Glasgow Hawks.

    © Jack Nixon

    Marr: Greg Montgomery; Scott Bickerstaff, Gregor Paxton, Conor Bickerstaff, Jack Scott; Colin Sturgeon, Jack Preston; William Farquhar, Oliver Rossi, Calvin Henderson; Ewan Hamilton-Bulger, Alexander Fraser; Mackenzie Pearce, Robert brown, Benedict Grant.

    Replacements: Andrew Muir, Brandon Sweet, Cody Cunningham, Gregor Ness, Kenneth Diffental.

    Aberdeen Grammar: Andrew Ovenstone; Calum Ruxton, Sean Mills, Tom Aplin, Doug Russell; Sam Knudson, Patrick Ritchie; Calum Reddish, Matthias Schosser, Ross Anderson; Nat Coe, Aaron Robertson; Dom Wallen, Jonny Spence, Will Alton.

    Replacements: Thomas Ryan, Valentine Ojogwu, Cameron Robertson, Luke Murphy, Mungo Somerville.

  2. Aberdeen Grammar 14 Hawick 31

    Aberdeen Grammar crashed to a second consecutive defeat at home to a Hawick team who produced one of their best performances of the season.

    The 31-14 success was Hawick’s first win in the Premiership since beating GHA on September 14, much to the delight of their head coach George Graham.

    “This is a massive win for us. Rubislaw is a tough place to come and win, as I have come to know in the many years I have been coming up here, although I was surprised at how little Grammar had to offer,” said Graham, a former Scotland and Gala player.

    The words of Graham may have stung, but reflected the reality of the occasion.  The home side turned in a disjointed performance that never matched the verve and the organisation of the Borderers who effectively had the game won after 30 minutes by which time they were 24 points to the good.

    Grammar forwards coach Iain Stanger acknowledged his side had been outplayed, even if they had staged a mini comeback early in the second half. He said: “This was not a good day for us. Our defending was woeful in the first half.

    “Hawick were more focused and well deserved to win, but without making excuses we had key players missing, particularly in the pack where we have lost players of the calibre of Chris Jollands who has gone to New Zealand while Greig Ryan has just got married; at least he will be back soon.

    “Jonny Spence had a stormer in our back row, as did Nat Coe in the unfamiliar role of No 8 but over the piece, we were well beaten, never recovering from our poor start.”

    The Green Machine, as the Hawick pack are known, were early into their stride, setting up their highly organised back division for runs at the hesitant home defence, leading to a try as early three minutes when flanker Jae Linton broke two tackles to plunder the home line, and with stand-off Ali Weir adding the extras, the Mansfield Park men were well and truly on their way to victory.

    Weir then added a penalty, followed by two touchdowns in the space of eight minutes, attributed to full-back Kirk Ford and centre Wiaan Griebenbow. Both were converted by the excellent Weir who was, by this time, running the show in the company of scrum-half Gareth Welsh.

    The half-time whistle could not come quickly enough for the Aberdeen side which gave Stanger, the opportunity to gee up his misfiring charges, as admitted by prop Matthias Schosser who said: “We got a real rollicking.”

    The treatment seemed to have worked as Grammar applied themselves to winning more ball at set pieces, getting their reward with tries from centre Tom Aplin and Coe, both converted by Aplin. But just when the home side looked set to overcome the fading Greens, the Border side rallied, rising to the challenge and scoring a late try, touched down by Linton and converted by Weir.

    That ended the game as a contest, posing head coach Ali O’Connor a few problems to be resolved for the next outing at Marr – the Premiership’s unbeaten league leaders.

    Aberdeen Grammar: Mungo Somerville; Nathan Brown, Sean Mills, Tom Aplin, Doug Russell; Sam Knudson, Jamie Troup; Calum Reddish, Andrew Cook, Matthias Schosser; Aaron Robertson, Robin Cessford,; Ben Inglis, Jonny Spence, Nat Coe.

    Replacements: Dom Wallen, Ross Anderson, Will Alton, Patrick Ritchie, Calum Ruxton.

    Hawick: Kirk Ford; Lewis Ferguson, Wiaan Griebenow, Andrew Mitchell, Logan Gordon-Wooley; Ali Weir, Gareth Welsh; Dale Johnstone, Matty Carryer, Ryan Toogood; Daniel Suddon, Adam Piotrowski; Jae Linton, Stuart graham, Sean Fairbairn.

    Replacements: Callum Renwick, Ruaridh Macleod, Glen Welsh, Mully Bannerman.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.