Aberdeen Grammar 30
Edinburgh Accies 17
JACK NIXON @ Rubislaw
NEW boys Aberdeen Grammar made the perfect start to the season with a well-merited try-bonus win, although Edinburgh Accies made a major contribution to a fast-flowing game played in the best of spirit by both teams.
The Raeburn Place side looked the most likely to emerge as winners, running the ball with authority thanks to the quick probing of their half-back pair of captain Max Love and stand-off Jamie Loomes, but totally against the run of play it was Grammar who broke out, enabling lock Robin Cessford to touch down in the corner.
Centre Tom Aplin failed with the difficult conversion, but it was still a blow for the visitors, especially as they were playing with the stiff breeze. To their credit, Accies resumed pressing the home line, getting their rewards with two fine tries in the last ten minutes of the half, scored by winger James Gordon and flanker Patrick O’Sullivan, both superbly converted from the touchline by Loomes.
Grammar had hit back with a straightforward penalty kick from Aplin, sandwiched between those two tries to make it 14-8 at the interval, which quickly became 17-8 shortly after the break when the immaculate Loomes slotted a penalty.
At this point, the clever money was on Accies to run out easy winners, only for the Rubislaw side to dig deep and surge back. Accies looked to have no Plan B, and their cause was not helped by getting a second yellow card of the afternoon for Nick Hall’s high tackle on Nathan Brown. Earlier in the game Daniel Winning had also fallen foul of the referee.
The Aberdeen side had a culprit of their own in lock Jordan Robertson, not that it stopped them from upping the pace and pressure, leading to tries from Brown and centre Nat Coe. Both were converted by Aplin, who just for good measure added a penalty to put the game beyond Accies at 25-17.
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Even then the homesters were not done in their desire to get the try bonus and they pushed forward again. It was no surprise when Sam Knudson’s on-fire team had the last word when who else but Brown, who was once on the books of St Johnstone football club, raced over after fine work from his backs to make it 30-17. Aplin missed the kick, not that it mattered for the delighted Rubislaw faithful.
“We matched their physicality, which was vital, but played some good rugby thanks to our front and back rows, including huge shifts from Robin Cessford in the middle of the pack,” said Grammar head coach Ali O’Connor. “And with Chris Jollands and Greig Ryan dictating in the back row we ended the game in charge after wrestling back control of a very good rugby game. We will travel to Glasgow next to meet Hawks in good heart.”
His opposite number Iain Berthinussen was disappointed but philosophical in defeat. “It’s going to be an interesting season, considering everything that is going on in the game,” he said. “We had nearly a whole new team out there today who played well for most of the game, and I would expect us to take a lot out of this game for our trip to Jed,” he said.
Aberdeen Grammar: S Mills; N Brown, N Coe, T Aplin, D Russell; S Knudson, T Morrison; C Reddish, B Inglis, M Schosser, J Robertson, R Cessford, C Jollands, W Alton, G Ryan. Subs: M Mhartain, J Spence, P Ritchie.
Edinburgh Accies: R Wilson; J Pecquer, N Armstrong R.Mill J.Gordon; J Coomes, M.Love; S. Gunn, S Crombie, F Richardson, D Dinnen, A Inwood, P O’Sullivan, C Thomson, R Campbell. Subs: N Hall, D Winning, J Bruce, M Sinclair, R Bonner.
Referee: S Grove-White.
Aberdeen Grammar: Tries: Cessford, Brown 2, Coe; Con: Aplin 2; Pen: Aplin 2.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Gordon, O’Sullivan; Cons: Loomes: Pen: Loomes.
Scoring sequence (Aberdeen Grammar first): 5-0, 5-5, 5-7, 8-7, 8-12, 8-14 half-time, 8-17, 13-17, 15-17, 20-17, 22-17, 24-17, 30-17.
Yellow cards – Aberdeen:Robertson. Edinburgh Accies: Winning, Hall
Man of the Match: Grammar’s Nathan Brown announced himself on the big stage with his two tries, adding to his first day of the season try in the Scottish Cup last week against Marr. An energetic runner who caused the visitors problems every time he had the ball in hand.
Talking point: Referee Sam Grove-White had a game to be proud of, demonstrating a sensitivity for the game, even acknowledging one error of his own with a humour not usually associated with officials in the game at this level.