Highland 34 Aberdeen Rugby 27
Highland were supreme at the weekend but the partnership between Aberdeen Grammar and Aberdeenshire got off to the worst possible start, with both crashing out of the Cup in the first round.
Highland rose magnificently to the challenge of playing a side two leagues above them.
They never relented in their quest to get their season off to a flyer and they succeeded with a 34-27 victory against Grammar in Inverness.
Davie Carson, the Highland head coach, said: “We were just tremendous never giving up and coming from behind twice to win what was a great game of rugby.
“We were out on our feet going into the last quarter but rallied to come back from 25-24 down to win the tie.
“We can now concentrate on our league programme with some confidence.”
Ali O’Connor, the Grammar head coach, was disappointed with the defeat and said: “The better side won. Highland had the greater appetite and they were more incisive.
“We’ll have a very different team out next week for our National 1 opener against Gala.”
Tom Aplin, the Grammar captain, and stand off agreed with his coach and said: “We will be a different side next week and will have learned from this.”
Joint captains for Highland, number eight Stuart MacDonald and centre Rory Cross scored two first-half tries, while Cross was an organiser in the midfield, getting his reward in the second half when he scored a splendid try.
Iain Chisholm had a fine debut at stand off, scoring a try of his own and kicking one conversion, giving his side a deserved half-time 17-8 lead. Replacement Calum MacPherson added a second-half try and Scott Fraser kicked on penalty and one conversion.
The Grammar points came from forwards Callum Reddish, Andrew Cook, Drew Whitehead and Greig Ryan. Aplin kicked two conversions and a penalty in what was generally a disjointed performance from the Rubislaw side.
Aberdeenshire suffered a crushing 102-7 loss at home to Hamilton, although coach Craig Parslow said: “We never gave up, making tackle after tackle. Some of the new players will have learnt from the experience.”
© Jack Nixon
Highland: Ruaridh MacDonald; Steven Rutledge, Craig Findlater, Rory Cross (cc), Andrew Cook; Iain Chisholm, Tom Brogan; Lewis Sinclair, Kevin Brown, Lyle Archer; Erem Demirel, Sean Blair; Callum Carson, Gordon Gregor, Stuart MacDonald (cc)
Replacements: Jonny Milton, Oscar Baird, Calum MacPherson, Scott Fraser, Connor Ross.
Aberdeen Rugby: Andrew Ovenstone; Craig Shepherd, Matt Arnold, Calum Ruxton; Tom Aplin (c), Jake Gray; Callum Reddish, Andrew Cook, Ross Anderson; Aaron Robertson, Ewan Stewart; Ethan Murray, Cameron Simpson, Greig Ryan.
Replacements: Colin Neilson, Calum Sangster, Drew Whitehead, Alex Dravitski, Duncan Ruxton.