Edinburgh Accies 10
Aberdeen Grammar 20
COLIN RENTON @ Newfield
ABERDEEN GRAMMAR bounced back from a run of disappointing performances with a deserved win in tricky conditions at Edinburgh Accies’ temporary home. The Granite City men adapted better than the hosts, defended well when they were under pressure, and took the few chances that came their way.
Grammar coach Ali O’Connor was delighted with the way his side had mastered the slippery ball and a home side that was also looking to rally from indifferent recent showings. “The defensive effort was huge,” he said. “It’s been below what it’s needed to be for the last few weeks and obviously the work we did during the week has fixed some of the things.
“The attitude from the lads was absolutely superb – difficult conditions and we knew it would be physical, and we really rose to it. I’m proud of the boys. They dug that one out. That was winning ugly.”
His Accies counterpart Iain Berthinussen acknowledged that the visitors had delivered the smarter rugby on a cold, wet day when overambitious rugby was unlikely to prove successful, And he bemoaned the attempts to play a style of game that was too loose. Nevertheless, he saw enough to be convinced that Accies are on the right track.
“We couldn’t fault the effort,” Berthinussen said. “When we looked at the last couple of weeks, we’ve been a bit sluggish. Elements of what we saw out there are a good step forward.
“Ultimately Aberdeen showed us how to play in bad conditions. We’ve got to make sure we have that in our armoury for next week or future weeks, so we’ve got to take lessons from that. The pleasing aspect for me was that we were physical in defence, we went at them, we got some good turnover ball. But we played too much in our own half in the first half and, although we had the elements in the second half, it was too big a lead with the conditions as they were.”
Aberdeen enjoyed territorial advantage in the opening few minutes as both sides struggled with the wet ball, albeit on a pitch that stood up remarkably well. Andrew Cook had come close when he was held up over the Accies line, and the inevitable opening score came with eight minutes on the clock when Nat Coe took a quick penalty and plunged over. Tom Aplin booted the conversion for a seven-point lead that was merited at that stage.
Accies tried to get back into the game but their efforts repeatedly foundered on handling errors. They eventually found a way through – a simple, well-executed handling move that involved Mark Sinclair, Cole Lamberton and Jack Bruce ended with the latter forcing his way over for an unconverted score.
Aplin stretched the Aberdeen lead with a penalty after half an hour, and the visitors struck a crucial blow with the final play of the half when their dominant pack created the platform for Ross Anderson to thunder over between the sticks, with Aplin’s conversion handing them a 17-7 half time lead.
Defensive solidity and a mounting tally of fumbles dominated the second period and it was the 71st minute before the score line changed. Again it was Aplin who did the damage, banging over another penalty that killed off Accies hopes.
To their credit, the hosts raised the pace for a final flourish and were rewarded when Jamie Sole gathered lineout ball after a penalty was despatched into touch. The home pack rumbled ever close to the whitewash and David Anderson found a way through to take the Accies tally into double figures.
While the two scores needed to win the game always looked a tall order, a losing bonus point was within reach and Accies finished the game strongly in pursuit of that goal. However, the Aberdeen defence was equal to the task and held out to ensure the home side ended the afternoon empty-handed.
Edinburgh Accies: W Stephen; J Paterson, R Campbell, N Armstrong, R Wilson; R Mill, M Sinclair; D Anderson, S Crombie, C Lamberton, A Inwood, D Dinnan, P O’Sullivan, J Sole©, J Bruce. Subs: R Gregor, C Lacour, C Bain, M Love, R Bonner.
Aberdeen Grammar: S Mills; C Shepherd, M Mitchell, T Aplin, D Russell; S Knudson©, T Morrison; C Reddish, A Cook, M Schosser, R Cessford, W Alton, B Inglis, J Spence, N Coe. Subs: R Anderson, T Ryan, C Robertson, J Troup, A Ovestone.
Referee: N Muir.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Bruce, Anderson.
Aberdeen Grammar: Tries: Coe, Anderson. Cons: Aplin 2. Pens: Aplin 2.
Scoring sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 0-5; 0-7, 5-7; 5-10; 5-15; 5-17 (h-t) 5-20; 10-20.
Man of the match: The superiority of the Aberdeen pack was a vital factor and the man who shone through the Edinburgh gloom was Nat Coe, who scored a try against his former side and was a key contributor at the lineout and looked lively in open play.
Talking point: The win means Aberdeen remain in what looks like a tense race for the play-off spots. Accies are just desperate for the stability that will come from having a ground to call home early in the new year.