Rugby

  1. Aberdeen Grammar 16 Currie 27

    Aberdeen Grammar’s chances of reaching the Premiership play-offs next month were dealt a major blow as they suffered a 26-17 home defeat against Currie Chieftains.

    The visitors took advantage of the Rubislaw side’s defence frailties to take the game away in a devastating six-minute spell just after half-time, during which the Edinburgh side scored two tries.

    The home side battled back from being 26-10 down to come within a whisker of grabbing a valuable losing bonus point, only to fail to take the try-scoring opportunities which came their way.

    It was a situation not lost on head coach Ali O’Connor, who said: “The difference between the two sides was Currie took their chances, while we squandered a number of good ones. We deserved at least a bonus point but once again came up short.

    “Overall there were some outstanding performances, including those guys who came on as replacements. Craig Shepherd and Ross Anderson were very good in very difficult conditions.

    “We are not out of it yet, but with Selkirk picking up two points for their draw at Musselburgh, it means we are now out of the top four and must beat Hawick away and Marr at home.”

    After some early probing, Grammar took an early lead with a penalty in five minutes from centre Tom Aplin, giving the home side the confidence and momentum to build up pressure on the Currie try line. It paid off in 15 minutes when prop Matthias Schosser bulldozed over and, with Aplin adding the extras, a shock result looked a possibility.

    But the Malleny Park side are not in second place for nothing, although it took a defensive mix-up for them to close the gap when centre Ryan Southern was given a free run at the Grammar line for a touchdown converted by stand-off Adam Hall, who then went on to add a try of his own on the half-hour mark. His conversion made it 14-10 at the break.

    The start of the second half was nothing less than disastrous for the hosts as, in the space of six minutes, they all but surrendered the game, shipping two soft tries, attributed to scrum-half Gregor Christie and replacement prop Reece Patterson, one of which was converted by Hall, giving Grammar a mountain to climb at 26-10 down.

    The try bonus point gained, Currie visibly relaxed, giving the Rubislaw side the opportunity to come back into the game. This they did in some style in 61 minutes when Aplin ran all of 70 yards to score a magnificent try and then had the breath to add the conversion, taking the score to 26-17, where it remained until the final whistle.

    The atrocious conditions took nothing away from a hard-fought game, especially up front, as acknowledged by Grammar’s forwards coach Iain Stanger, who said: “It was a good old-fashioned game of rugby with the two packs giving their all.

    “It was a close-run thing but Currie deservedly shaded it. They took the chances which came their way.”

    Selkirk are now favourites to claim the fourth play-off place, given they are a point clear and have an easier run-in than Grammar against bottom-side Edinburgh Accies and GHA.

    © Jack Nixon

    Aberdeen Grammar: Fraser Sneddon; Nathan Brown, Murray Mitchell, Tom Aplin, Doug Russell; Sam Knudson, Jamie Troup; Calum Reddish, Andrew Cook, Matthias Schosser; Nat Coe, Jordan Robertson; Dominic Wallen, Ben Inglis, Grieg Ryan.

    Replacements: Scott Renfrew, Ross Anderson, Aaron Robertson, Ali Addy, Craig Shepherd.

    Currie Chieftains: Fraser Sayers; Cameron Meager, Steven Hamilton, Ryan Southern, James McCaig; Adam Hall, Gregor Christie; Graeme Carson, Fergus Scott, Matias Sonzongni Argiro, Matt Poole, Sam Edwards, Mike Vernel, Wallace Nelson, Rhys Davies.

    Replacements: Reece Patterson, Grant Williamson, Josh O’Brien, Hamish Ferguson, Fraser McKay.

  2. Aberdeen Grammar 2XV 27 Highland 2XV 24

    Aberdeen Grammar 2XV – The Bears – won an entertaining, close, fixture against Caledonia rivals Highland.

    Highland went back up the A96 with 2 bonus points for their efforts and remain top of Caley North 2.

    Photos from the match are in the galleries.

  3. GHA 19 Aberdeen Grammar 21

    Aberdeen Grammar kept their play-off hopes alive with a narrow 21-19 victory against GHA in Glasgow.

    The victory takes Grammar into fourth place and, with only three games to play, albeit against the three top sides Marr, Currie and Hawick, head coach Ali O’Connor reckons anything is possible – especially as two of the games are at Rubislaw.

    He said: “We have discovered how to win again after a poor run, and if we can maintain this form we will be there or thereabouts.

    “It’s the first time we have done the double over GHA for a long time, but we deserved it. Our defence and physicality were outstanding, especially in the second half when we didn’t concede a point.”

    Grammar started strongly taking the lead in only three minutes when, from a penalty lineout, centre Murray Mitchell ran in a fine try, which was converted by fellow centre Tom Aplin, confirming that the back is fast becoming the most reliable place-kicker in the league.

    The Braidholm side hit back immediately with a great counter attack, enabling winger Jordan Craig to touch down for a try converted by scrum half George Baird.

    In 15 minutes, the home side repeated the move to go 12-7 ahead. The scorer was prop Erik Cavan, although Baird missed the kick at goal, but only awarded after referee Michael Todd had consulted a touch judge.

    Grammar bounced back to push ahead after spreading the play wide, giving the ultra-speedy Doug Russell a free run from the wing. Aplin added the extras in what had been a frantic, but entertaining, opening 20 minutes.

    After a quiet spell, the Glasgow side upped the pace of the game, getting their reward just after the half-hour mark when lock Adam Burnett charged over from a lineout. With Baird successfully making the kick, GHA were able to go into the break 19-14 to the good.

    The second half was dominated by the hosts but, thanks to some superb Grammar defending, they were unable to add to their tally.

    Instead it was the visitors who, in a rare visit into the GHA half in 58 minutes, scored what proved to be the winning score, touched down by lock Robin Cessford, and converted by the reliable Aplin.

    Grammar survived a torrid last 20 minutes in which every player put their body on the line, but helped by some poor finishing from the home side.

    Selkirk’s home 26-14 defeat against Marr was greeted with joy by players, officials and the small but vociferous Grammar support, resulting in Grammar moving into that precious fourth place, although they will have to wait until February 15 for the next round of games when they host second-placed Currie Chieftains.

    © Jack Nixon

    GHA:

    Replacements:

    Aberdeen Grammar: Sean Mills; Nathan Brown, Murray Mitchell, Tom Aplin, Doug Russell; Sam Knudson, Tommy Morrison; Calum Reddish, Andrew Cook, Matthias Schosser; Robin Cessford, Jordan Robertson; Nat Cole, Ben Inglis, Greig Ryan.

    Replacements: Jonny Spence, Ross Anderson, Aaron Robertson, Patrick Ritchie, Fraser Sneddon.

  4. Aberdeen Grammar 40 Musselburgh 27

    Aberdeen Grammar had lost six of their previous seven Premiership matches but surged back into contention for a play-off spot with a 40-27 win over Musselburgh.

    The six-try win should also mean the Rubislaw men don’t need to worry about the prospect of being embroiled in a relegation dogfight this season.

    Club chairman Gordon Thomson said: “The win keeps us on track for my start-of-season target of a top-six place. We have four more difficult games to play, including Marr, Currie and Hawick, the three top teams, and a more winnable one at GHA next week.

    “The hard work for this game was done in training this week when we had full turnouts.”

    Head coach Ali O’Connor was delighted with his charges’ response, agreeing with Thomson’s assessment of the work done in the paddock. He said: “The players rallied for this one, bringing an intensity and a focus to the game, and were generally accurate in all we did. There were some fine performances, not least from lock Jordan Robertson who was just immense, while Greig Ryan’s return to the back row was perfectly timed.

    “It was a good all-round showing, especially up front, where we were totally dominant. We now need to keep it going in Glasgow next week before our big run into the end of the season.”

    Grammar were on the ascendancy from the off, taking the play to the Edinburgh side who had no answer to the rampaging forward play of the Rubislaw side, led by Robin Cessford, Robertson and prop Matt Schosser, but all orchestrated by the irrepressible Ryan who capped his return to the side with two tries.

    It was stand-off and captain Sam Knudson who opened up the Musselburgh defence to set free centre Tom Aplin to race over in 13 minutes, just after Danny Owenson had kicked a penalty for the visitors. Aplin added the extras, as he did for five of the home touchdowns.

    From then on it was nearly all Grammar, apart from a long-range penalty from Owenson.

    Such was the home supremacy, they were able to add a further three tries before the interval, two converted by Aplin. The scorers were attributed to Ryan (2) and hooker Andrew Cook, whose searing run from a well-chosen angle left the Stoneyhill side’s defence in tatters.

    The home domination continued in the second half, bringing tries for the enterprising Knudson, and winger Doug Russell, both converted by Aplin who ended the day with a personal haul of 15 points. To their credit, Musselburgh never gave up, scoring three touchdowns through Owenson, replacement Sandy Watt, and finally former Grammar captain Callum Champion, all three converted by Owenson, bringing his tally to 17.

    The downside to Grammar’s day was an injury to flanker Will Alton which resulted in him dislocating his elbow in the 70th minute, but overall it was a day to savour for the Rubislaw faithful who were seeing their team win at home for the first time since beating GHA on October 12.

    © Jack Nixon

    Aberdeen Grammar: Sean Mills; Andrew Ovenstone, Murray Mitchell, Tom Aplin, Doug Russell; Sam Knudson, Tommy Morrison; Calum Reddish, Andrew Cook, Matthias Schosser; Robin Cessford, Jordan Robertson; Nat Coe, Ben Inglis, Greig Ryan.

    Replacements: Will Alton, Ross Anderson, Aaron Robertson, Jonny Spence, Fraser Sneddon.

    Musselburgh: James Doig; James Ferguson, Rory Smith, Rory Watt, Gregor Tait; Paul Cunningham, Danny Owenstone; Craig Owenson, Jonathon Crain, Colin Arthur; William Fleming, Jack Haynes; Michael Maltman, Cameron Pryde, Paddy Brown.

    Replacements: Euan Bonthron, Luke Hutson, Max Outram, Ruaridh Young, Sandy Watt.

  5. Scotland Club XV Training Squad

    Congratulations to Nat Coe and Robin Cessford for being selected to take part in the Club XV training squad prior to the games against an Ireland club XV.

    Nat’s selection is all the more remarkable as he has only this season switched from playing in the three-quarters to the scrum.

    Scotland play Ireland at Netherdale on Friday 31 January and at Donnybrook the following Friday.

  6. Jed-Forest 52 Aberdeen Grammar 17

    Aberdeen Grammar fell to a sixth loss from their last seven games away to Jed Forest to slide out of the play-off places.

    The Rubislaw side began their Premiership campaign in great form, winning five of their first six games, but have endured a recent slump to the dismay of head coach Ali O’Connor.

    The 52-17 defeat at Jed was hard to take for O’Connor.

    However, he remained loyal to his misfiring charges, refusing to make the excuse of having an under-strength side out for the testing Borders trip.

    He said: “There are of course things that need to be put right.

    “Defensively we find it difficult against a side like Jed who put pace and width on the ball.

    “We also found it hard to turn them over, given their power. Scoring three tries was good, but we didn’t have enough guile to get over the line for the fourth and a bonus point.

    “We’ll now have a break before attempting to get our act back on track at home to Musselburgh on January 11.”

    Grammar made the best of starts to the game, racing into a 12-point lead in as many minutes thanks to well-taken tries by centre Murray Mitchell and winger Craig Shepherd, one of which was converted by centre Tom Aplin.

    Mitchell’s effort owed much to his ability to retain the ball in the best rugby league tradition, while Shepherd’s kick ahead bamboozled the home defence.

    It proved to be a false dawn, as the Riverside team composed themselves to run in four tries before half- time to lead 26-12.

    Despite clawing an unconverted try back just after the break through number eight Nat Coe, Grammar were always on the back foot as the home side cut loose with pace and purpose, running in four more tries and taking the game away from the northeners.

    The Young brothers Craig and Lewis were particularly effective in the Jed back division, scoring a try apiece, but it was big brother Garry at number eight who was the talk of Riverside and the pick of the trio with an all-action performance which resulted in him scoring two tries and winning the man of the match award.

    Grammar must address some of the defensive issues, while asking why they fell so badly off the pace after their bright start. The return of Greig Ryan and Robin Cessford to the pack in 2020 might solve some of their organisational problems, enabling them to get their play-off aspirations back on track.

    © Jack Nixon

    Jed-Forest: Lewis Young; Callum Young, Robbie Yourston, Monty Mitchell, Rory Marshall; Gary Munro, Niklas Stingl; Thomas Jeffrey, Finlay Campbell, Paulo Alves Ferreira; Diamonde Tjombie, Gregor Law; Brad Saxton, Michael Weekley, Garry Young.

    Replacements: Adam Keeler, Harry Meadows, Dom Buckley, Josh Laing, Jye McGough.

    Aberdeen Grammar: Fraser Sneddon; Craig Shepherd, Murray Mitchell, Tom Aplin, Doug Russell; Sam Knudson, Jamie Troup; Calum Reddish, Liam Buchan, Thomas Ryan; Valentine Ojogwu, Aaron Robertson; Cameron Robertson, Fergus McKenzie, Nat Coe.

    Replacements: Colin Neilson, Morgam Martin, Ryan Larment, Andrew Ovenstone, Patrick Ritchie.