Kelso 16 Aberdeen Grammar 10
Aberdeen Grammar’s players came close to winning their first game in nearly 100 days but were badly let down by lack of composure at key moments, leaving them stranded at the foot of the national 1 table after a narrow 16-10 defeat by fellow strugglers Kelso.
Grammar did not have the ideal preparation for the meeting of the basement clubs, having to drive through blizzards for much of the journey south while a number of players suffered from travel sickness.
Grammar coach Stuart Corsar said: “Once again there was plenty of effort from the players, but our decision-making was poor on a number of occasions when we might have scored.
“It was not a day for being critical in the difficult, freezing conditions. There were some great performances. We are not down yet and have six games left in which to save our season, but it is going to be tough.”
After a tense opening start both sides settled to try to play open and expansive rugby in difficult conditions and Kelso made the breakthrough in 20 minutes when stand off Andrew Skeen cashed in on poor Grammar defending to score near the posts, giving himself the easiest of conversions. Grammar kept calm, closing the gap in 24 minutes when stand off and captain Alex Hagart kicked a superb 45-yard penalty.
The Rubislaw side pushed for the lead, so vital to them, particularly as they were playing down-wind, but had to wait until the 39th minute when forwards Ali Mackie and Robin Cessford combined magnificently to send the latter over the Kelso line.
Hagart kicked the conversion to give his side a narrow 10-7 half time lead.
Playing into the breeze Grammar deployed pick and go tactics to come close on a number of occasions, but were never able to bring their back division into the game, although there were occasional flashes from centre Peceli Nacamavuto to keep the Kelso defences on its toes.
Hagart led his line with authority throughout, kicking astutely, but it was the Poynder Park men who did all the scoring in the second half with three long-range penalties, two from Skeen in 42 and 69 minutes and one from replacement centre David Crawford.
Grammar ended the game on the attack, but in a desperate bid to breach the Border side’s line, failed to get in the vital pass which could have won the game.
The beleaguered Aberdeen side now have a week off before taking on Edinburgh Accies followed by a trip to Glasgow, where it meets GHA in a rearranged game.
Grammar’s season is not yet over, although it will take a Herculean effort and much more guile to save the day in the remaining six games.
© Jack Nixon