Aberdeen Grammar v GHA: defence an afterthought as hosts edge 15-try thriller

Tackling appeared to be an after-thought for both sides as home team's superior pack and firepower off the bench proves decisive

Chris Jollands and Robin Cessford were involved in a thrilling win for Aberdeen Grammar over GHA.
Chris Jollands and Robin Cessford were involved in a thrilling win for Aberdeen Grammar over GHA. Image: John Williamson

Aberdeen Grammar 57

GHA 47

JACK NIXON @ Rubislaw

WHAT to make of a game which yielded 104 points, the home side out-scoring the visitors by the narrow margin of eight tries to seven, and yet for all that there was something missing from Aberdeen Grammar’s win over GHA in Aberdeen.

The ingredient sadly lacking from this all action affair, fought out under a late burst of autumn sun at Rubislaw, was, of course, defending which most of us thought was part of the game, but apparently no one had told the two protagonists who seemed to think making a tackle was optional,

Certainly, the two opposing head coaches were left confused, although Grammar’s Ali O’Connor was the happier of the two for obvious reasons.

”We played some fine attacking rugby, but our midfield defending was woeful,” he said. “We will need to improve in that area for our trip to Currie next week, but, having said that, this was our fourth win on the trot. It’s been a good run, especially as we only came up last season.”

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Trevor Carmichael of GHA was delighted with his side’s never-say-die attitude, but like his opposite number was unhappy with the number of unforced errors made by his charges.

“We’re disappointed to go away with only a try bonus point, after scoring seven tries,” he reflected. “One penalty or another touchdown would have been enough, and no more than we deserved. I thought in full-back Grant Mollison we had one of the best players on the pitch. His two tries were no more than he deserved, but it was an enjoyable game of rugby in which we were always competitive.”

In truth, despite the closeness of the score line, the Rubislaw side was always the more likely, particularly given the physicality of their abrasive pack in which lock Robin Cessford was a stand-out, capping a great day with two tries, which might have been a hat-trick had referee Ian Kenny not adjudged a late effort to be from a forward pass.

It was, in fact, a day for doubles and indeed hat-tricks, keeping the scoreboard ticking over at the rate of a try every five minutes.

For the homesters, centre Murray Mitchell grabbed three well taken efforts, while winger Nathan Brown took his total to nine touchdowns for the season with two of his own, and with Cessford running rampant in the loose to score a brace it was a field day for the Northerners.

Flanker Will Alton had opened the Rubislaw account, giving centre Tom Aplin his first kick at goal, and the centre went on to convert six more and a penalty for a haul of 17 for the day.

For GHA, winger Jackson Baillie was a willing runner, notching a well deserved hat-trick, as was centre Jack Reilly who nipped through the static Grammar defence. Replacement Adam Scott also breached the home defence.

Stand-off Jack Anderson was also in great form, kicking six of his seven attempts at goal in one of the highest scoring games seen at Rubislaw in recent history.

For those who need to know these things,  GHA opened the scoring through Baillie, only for Alton to tie up the scores, in the first 10 minutes, but once Aplin had kicked the extras, the home side were never headed.

Grammar led 36-12 at half time but were never able to shake off the persistent Glasgow side who, like their opponents, will spend much of the week practicing their tackling.

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Teams –

Aberdeen Grammar: S Mills; N Brown, M Mitchell, T Aplin, D Russell; S Knudson, J Troup; C Reddish, B Inglis, R Anderson, N Coe, R Cessford, C Jollands, W Alton, G Ryan. Subs: M Schosser,  A Cook, T Morrison, C Shepherd.

GHA: G Mollison; J Craig, C Conergan, J Reilly, J Baillie; J. Anderson, G. Baird; T Brogan, H Clark, M Fox, A Barrett, A Kerr, M Markvinkovic, M Ryan, L McCutcheon. Subs: L Barron, E Hardie, A Scott, S  Fisher.

Referee: Ian Kenny


Scorers –

Aberdeen Grammar: Tries: Mitchell 3, Brown 2, Cessford 2, Alton; Cons: Aplin 7; Pen: Aplin.

GHA: Tries: Baillie 3, Mollison 2, Reilly, Scott. Cons :  Anderson 6.

Scoring sequence (Aberdeen first): 0-5; 5-5; 7-5; 12-5; 14-5; 19-5; 21-5; 21-10; 21-12; 26-12; 29-12; 34-12; 36-12 (h-t) 36-17; 36-19; 41-19; 43-19; 43-24; 43-26; 48-26; 50-26; 50-31; 50-33; 50-38; 50-40; 55-40; 55-40; 57-40; 57-45; 57-47.


Yellow cards –

GHA: Fox


Man-of-the-Match: Home second-row Robin Cessford Puy in an all-action performance in the middle of the pack. He also made a number of tackles which were generally in short supply

Talking point: The strength of the Grammar bench which bodes well for the rest of the season for this ambitious club.

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About Jack Nixon 72 Articles
Jack is a Borderer, born in Langholm, and a graduate of Moray House College of Education in Edinburgh. He was a founder member of Livingston Rugby Club in 1968 and has been rugby correspondent for the Aberdeen Press and Journal since 1997. He has been going to Murrayfield man and boy since 1954!