Aberdeen Grammar 44
ATHOLL INNES @ Philiphaugh
ABERDEEN GRAMMAR made the long journey south for the second week in a row (having played and lost at Glasgow Hawks last week), and for the second successive week, too, a kick-off in the Borders was delayed 15 minutes after the visitors were held up on the Edinburgh bypass (following GHA’s late arrival at Hawick seven days ago). But, on this occasion, the travel difficulties did not affect the away side as they raced into a commanding first-half lead and never looked back.
“We had a very good first half,” said coach Ali O’Conner. “I was delighted with the performance, but all credit to Selkirk who came back at us in the second half and gained a bonus point. I was pleased with the way the boys stuck in.”
With the teams each on five points before the kick-off, there was much to play for on one of the warmest afternoons of the year, but Aberdeen made light of their lengthy trip to take the lead after only five minutes when Doug Russell got on to the end of a Nat Coe chip to score in the left-hand corner, but Tom Aplin missed the conversion.
Aaron McColm failed to close the gap with a penalty from about 30 metres out after Aberdeen were penalised in the scrum.
Selkirk took a second penalty quickly, but Aberdeen got behind the goal-line to save the day. The Souters started to dominate, but when in possession the visitors were equally dangerous.
Aberdeen contained the bigger threat, and after the ball had been swung twice across the field, Sam Knudson added a second try and Aplin converted. It was Aplin again when he kicked a penalty in 26 minutes to stretch the lead.
Selkirk closed the deficit when Josh Welsh broke the defence over 30 metres and sent Ryan Cottrell over the line. But Aberdeen continued to dominate with further tries from Will Alton and Coe, Aplin adding the conversions and a penalty for a comfortable 32-5 interval lead.
On the restart, Knudson added a second try, which Aplin converted as the visitors built their lead further. However, they were reduced to 14 players when Alton was sent to the sin-bin and Selkirk cashed in with two Scott McClymont tries in as many minutes, Aaron McColm converting the first.
It was all-Selkirk now, although their target looked out of reach with 20 minutes left for play as both sides made changes. And Aberdeen added the icing on the cake as Aplin raced into space to score.
Henry Bithray touched down for a consolation try and a bonus point. Aaron McColm converting.
The heat probably took its toll on the players, but the journey back to Aberdeen would be more rewarding than the journey down.
Selkirk: R. Cottrell; F. Anderson, J. Welsh, H. Bithray, J. Henry; C. Anderson, Aaron McColm; L. Pettie, J. Bett, B. Riddell, A. Mackay, P. Forrest, Andrew McColm, S. McClymont, H. Borthwick. Replacements: R. Purves, G. Forrest, D. Alexander, L. Berte, L. Morelle.
Aberdeen Grammar: B. Perrot; N. Brown, N. Coe, T. Aplin, D. Russell; S. Knudson, J. Troup; A. Cooke, B. Inglis, M. Schosser, Jordan Robertson, R. Cessford, C. Jollands, W. Alton, G. Ryan. Replacements: M. Martin, Cameron Robertson, G. Nichol, M. Mitchell, P. Ritchie.
Referee: S. Burns
Selkirk: Tries, Cottrell, McClymont 2, Bithray; Cons: Aaron McColm 2.
Aberdeen Grammar: Tries, Russell, Knudson 2, Alton, Coe, Aplin; Cons: Aplin 4; Pens, Aplin 2.
Scoring sequence (Selkirk first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12; 0-15; 5-15; 5-20; 5-22; 5-27; 5-29; 5-32 (h-t) 5-37; 5-39; 10-39; 12-39; 17-39; 17-44; 22-44; 24-44.
Man of the Match: Aberdeen centre Tom Aplin gets the nod for his kicking and also his power in attack and defence.
Talking point: The ease in which Aberdeen controlled the first half despite their late arrival has got to be a good sign for the Rubislaw men given how many long road trips lie in store this season as the only representative in the Premiership from north of the Forth.